The rise of Kung Fu movies in the 1960's and 1970's exposed Westerners to martial arts. Today with mixed martial arts leagues and countless bouts, most people are quite familiar with arts such as Brazilian Jujitsu and Muay Thai. These arts have risen in popularity of the excellent fighting skills they offer in the ring.
Other arts such as Hapkido remain somewhat obscure when compared to Jujitsu and Muay Thai despite the wide range of techniques taught. Hapkido for example teaches more kicks than Tae Kwon Do. To a large extent, the reason for this lies in the fact that styles such as Hapkido are not competition arts. It certainly includes grappling, kicking, and striking elements. But like Jujitsu it places a tremendous amount of emphasis on joint locks, small joint manipulation, and a variety of chokes. It does so not as add on to its core curriculum but as central to its style and philosophy.
This emphasis on these types of techniques makes it largely impractical and unrealistic for a mixed martial arts bout. What the art does offer however, is a realistic and practical self-defense oriented martial art. The goal of Hapkido is not sportsmanship but like Krav Maga or traditional Jujitsu, a quick response to real attacks from one or multiple attackers.
The benefit of Hapkido in comparison to Krav Maga is found in the range of responses that its arsenal has. Krav Maga tends to emphasis very hard responses such as attacking the eyes and throat and inflicting permanent damage. The former, offers the student the same capabilities, but a much broader range of submission techniques which are perfect for polices forces as well as those needed for military training. Korean policeman for example, are required to reach the level of black belt to serve.
One thing to consider in choosing this art is the area of physical fitness. Because it focuses on joint locks and wrist twists as well as throws, the stress on joints and muscles can be significant. The answer is to follow a regular regimen of stretching and warm up. This can be a greater challenge as we age, but as long as a routine is maintained, can help to prevent serious injury. Because of the muscle strain it is not geared for children. Most instructors require students to be in their late teens to start training.