I’ve been asked why I chose a chose a hammerhead shark to represent this art, both in name and symbol.
I’ve always been fascinated by the hammerhead. The great warrior of the sea, it roams vast distances, sometimes crossing entire oceans. It’s a symbol of power, confidence, and fearlessness. In Hawaiian culture it is revered as a protector.
Besides that, the hammerhead shark possesses some unique physical characteristics:
* The placement of the eyes on the end of the head affords the hammerhead a 360 degree range of vision in both the vertical and horizontal planes. In other words, the hammerhead can see everything around it in every direction. In martial arts, scanning one’s full environment is an important habit to develop. In Japanese this is called zanshin.
* The bladed shape of the head and the narrow neck give the hammerhead amazing flexibility. It can twist and turn rapidly – a great advantage when hunting or fighting. For the martial artist as well, flexibility and mobility are vital.
* The hammerhead possesses a unique organ called the ampullae of Lorenzini, which allows it to detect, among other things, the electrical fields created by prey animals. The hammerhead’s increased ampullae sensitivity allows it to find its favorite meal, stingrays. There’s an interesting parallel here to Hapkido, which is based in part on being sensitive to the attacker’s energy and using it against him.
Lastly, the word “hammer” suits this particular style. In Hammerhead Hapkido we use hammerfists (striking with the outside surface of the clenched hand) to smash through the opponents guard, to strike the temple or jaw, and as a finishing strike to the back of the neck. Hammerfist strikes can be very powerful when delivered with body rotation, and they protect the striker from the kind of hand damage that typically results when punching the head with the knuckles.
Oh and – it’s just cool.
Hapki! (harmonious energy)
Wael Abdelgawad, Founder
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