June 12, 2024



The Incredible Health Benefits of Hapkido Breathing Techniques by Instructor Ma

The Incredible Health Benefits of Hapkido Breathing Techniques by Instructor Ma

Hapkido, the Korean martial art renowned for its flowing techniques and joint locks, offers a treasure trove of benefits beyond self-defense. One such gem lies in its breathing exercises, often practiced alongside physical techniques. These exercises, though seemingly simple, hold immense potential for improving overall health and well-being, even promoting a reversal of some age-related effects.

Let’s delve into the science behind Hapkido breathing and explore how it can enhance your life:

The Power of Deep, Diaphragmatic Breathing:

Hapkido breathing emphasizes deep, diaphragmatic breaths. Unlike shallow chest breathing, which uses the intercostal muscles for limited air intake, diaphragmatic breathing engages the diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle below the lungs. As you inhale, the diaphragm contracts, pushing the lungs downward and increasing lung capacity. This deeper breath brings in more oxygen, the fuel for our cells, and promotes the release of carbon dioxide, a waste product of cellular respiration.

Benefits for Body and Mind:

The practice of deep, diaphragmatic breathing in Hapkido unlocks a multitude of health advantages:

  • Enhanced Oxygen Delivery: Increased oxygen intake through deep breaths fuels cellular processes, leading to improved energy levels, better cognitive function, and a stronger immune system.
  • Stress Reduction: Hapkido breathing exercises activate the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for our “rest and digest” response. This counteracts the “fight-or-flight” stress response triggered by shallow breathing, lowering heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol (stress hormone) levels, promoting relaxation and emotional well-being.
  • Improved Circulation: Deep breaths create a gentle pumping action in the abdomen, promoting better blood circulation throughout the body. This enhanced circulation delivers vital nutrients and oxygen to organs and tissues, improving overall health and potentially aiding in faster recovery from injuries.
  • Detoxification: Efficient breathing facilitates the body’s natural detoxification process. Deeper breaths allow for the release of more carbon dioxide, a waste product, and can even help remove other toxins from the body.

Combating the Effects of Aging:

As we age, our bodies naturally experience a decline in lung capacity and diaphragmatic function. This decrease in efficient breathing can contribute to fatigue, decreased energy levels, and even a weakened immune system. Hapkido breathing exercises can help combat these effects by:

  • Strengthening the Diaphragm: Regular practice of deep breaths strengthens the diaphragm muscle, leading to more efficient oxygen intake and improved lung function over time.
  • Stress Management: Chronic stress is a major contributor to the aging process. Hapkido breathing’s stress-reducing effects can help slow down the negative impacts of stress on the body and mind.
  • Improved Sleep Quality: Deep, diaphragmatic breathing promotes relaxation and can significantly improve sleep quality. Better sleep allows the body to repair and rejuvenate itself, leading to increased energy levels and a more youthful appearance.

Getting Started with Hapkido Breathing:

Here’s a simple Hapkido breathing exercise you can incorporate into your daily routine:

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  2. Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, feeling your abdomen expand as the diaphragm contracts.
  4. Hold your breath for a brief moment (2-3 seconds) at the peak of your inhale.
  5. Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth, gently pulling your navel inwards as you release the air.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for several minutes, focusing on a smooth and rhythmic breathing pattern.

Remember: Consistency is key. Aim for at least 10-15 minutes of daily practice to reap the long-term benefits of Hapkido breathing.

Beyond the Breath:

While Hapkido breathing offers a wealth of health benefits, it’s important to remember that it’s just one facet of the art. Combining breathing exercises with regular Hapkido training can further enhance the positive effects:

  • Improved Physical Fitness: Hapkido’s physical techniques, when combined with proper breathing, enhance stamina, cardiovascular health, and overall fitness.
  • Mind-Body Connection: The focus and control required for both breathing exercises and physical techniques in Hapkido foster a strong mind-body connection, leading to greater self-awareness and mental clarity.
  • Stress Management in Daily Life: The stress-reducing techniques learned through Hapkido breathing can be applied to everyday situations, promoting emotional well-being and a calmer approach to life’s challenges.


Hapkido breathing is more than just an air intake technique; it’s a gateway to a healthier, more balanced you. By incorporating these simple yet powerful exercises into your routine, you can unlock a plethora of health enriching benefits.

If you are considering learning Hapkido, I encourage you visit our directory page to find a school near you.

About the author: Instructor Ma is a 3rd Degree Black Belt in the Korean self-defense art of Hapkido and a 2nd Dan in Traditional Taekwondo. She is a professional sports and fitness model and full-time Nursing student. She is the Language, Culture and Leadership Development Teacher for the USA Hapkido Union, Inc.

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