Point & Circle



          Every so often a belief system takes hold of a culture and permeates nearly every facet of that culture. In American culture, there is a pervasive belief in the use of confrontation to address problems.  The American language pays homage to individuals who “take the bull by the horns," “take things straight-on”, and “go toe-to-toe” with their problems. In turn, this straight-line belief invites the idea that “bigger is better” and gradually evolves into other straight-line beliefs such as “power rules” which finally equates punishment and control with success and winning.

          In Hapkido, training is organized to produce an individual who fights smarter, not harder. Rather than use the energy necessary to stop or absorb the opponent’s power, a person training in Hapkido learns to deflect, and redirect that energy. The result is a collection of techniques and beliefs that are characteristically circular or elliptical rather than straight and angular. Are there straight and angular techniques in Hapkido? Certainly, however, the challenge is to use motions that guide force not to penetrate but to glance-off; to move around energy rather than absorb it. A practical example of this is the difference between a boxer who takes a punch, versus a boxer who slips a punch. Further, the Point-And Circle Principle addresses not only circularity in shape but the cyclical nature of events as well. Examined in this aspect, the Point-and-Circle Principle also reveals the importance of developing a skill at not merely executing a technique but being able to re-cycle one action into an alternative action.

          So, how does the Point-and-Circle Principle appear in action?  On a physical level a Hapkido practitioner may produce an odd effect in the observer. At the same time that hands and feet are a flurry of motion, the trunk, shoulders, neck and head seem inordinately quiet, reminiscent of a top. A spinning child’s top is a flurry of activity at its surface. The axis of the top, however, is quiet and stable. Not seen is the ducking, bobbing, dodging and weaving sometimes characteristic of more concussive arts like kick-boxing. On an emotional or social level a Hapkido practitioner readily acknowledges situations without allowing them to control his options. The comportment of Hapkido suggests grace under pressure, a level-headedness in the face of chaos, and, perhaps, a success of mind over muscle.