History of Hapkido

Yong-Sool Choi (1904-1986), born in Chung Buk province in Korea, was one of the most influential people in the development of modern Korean martial arts. His parents died when he was very young, and he was taken to Japan from Korea by a Japanese candy maker when he was 8 or 9. Choi became very homesick and was abandoned by the candy maker so he had to wander the streets as a beggar which resulted in him being regularly assaulted by other children.

A Japanese man noticed Choisí situation so he took Choi in and eventually adopted him. Before Choi went to school to get an education, his name was changed to Tatujutu Yoshida.

His education was not a success because he did not speak enough Japanese to understand the teachers. He became disinterested and often wound up fighting with the other school-children, so he was asked if he wanted to get a regular education or learn to fight.

He chose fighting, and went to a Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jutsu dojo with Sokaku Takeda (1860-1943), where he trained for nearly 30 years. He began to make plans to return home to Korea and did so in the winter of 1945. Upon his return, he changed his name back to Yong-Sool Choi.

During the trip home, Choi lost his money and the certificates which were proof of his training with Takeda Sensei. Because of this lack of money, he decided to stay in Tae Gu rather than to return to his home in Chung-Buk. He worked as a bread salesman on the street for a year, and managed to save enough money to begin raising pigs. To feed his pigs, he would travel to the Suh Brewery Company to obtain free leftover grain chaff.

In 1947, Bok-Sub Suh, who was the president of the Suh Brewery Company, witnessed Choi defend himself successfully against several attackers, with little effort. He was very impressed sent someone down to bring this man to his office.

Suh asked Choi what kind of martial arts he practiced. Choi didnít answer, instead he just asked Suh to grab him by the lapel. When Suh grabbed the lapel, Choi easily executed an elbow lock and threw Suh to the floor. Suh grabbed Choi's lapel again, and he was thrown to the floor a second time. After being defeated twice, Suh asked for Choi to teach him, promising him more free chaff, as well as paying him for lessons.

Choi agreed so Suh prepared a Dojang at the brewery where Choi could teach what he had studied for so many years in Japan.

Over the next few years, Choi began to establish himself as an outstanding, well respected martial arts instructor. He called his art Yoo Sool (Korean pronunciation of Ju-Jutsu). He mainly taught what he had learned from Takeda Sensei, slowly adding other techniques, including some kicks and weapon techniques.

Suh suggested to Choi that the name Yoo Sool be changed to Yoo Kwon Sool, to represent the fact that as well as joint locks and throwing techniques, they were also practicing strikes and kicks.

After the end of the Korean war, he opened his own private school and began to teach a few other students. This was in 1953. Some of the students during this period had already founded, or have gone on to found their own martial art styles. These include, Hwang-Kee (Tang-Soo-Do), In-Hyuk Suh (Kuk Sool Won), Dr. Joo-Bang Lee (Hwa Rang Do), and Han-Jae Ji (Hapkido).

Ji, Han-Jae

Han-Jae Ji was born in 1936 in Angong, Korea, and began training in Yoo Sool with Choi in 1949.

When Ji was eighteen, he began to train with a man who he refers to as Taoist Lee. Taoist Lee, trained him primarily in methods of meditation, and in the use of the Jang-Bong (6' staff), the Dan-Bong (short stick), and in Korean Taek-Kyun kicking. As well as this, a lady monk known to him only as "grandma" taught him spiritual power for nearly five years.

Han-Jae Ji opened his first Dojang in Andong, calling it An Moo Kwan and began to teach Yoo Kwon Sool. After nine months in Andong, he decided to relocate to Seoul in September of 1957.

Ji opened a small Dojang at a neck-tie factory where he had a few students. These were mainly from Han Yang University. His skills and teaching became better so he decided to move to a more suitable location. He rented a room from a local boxing instructor, and had access to a regular mat where he could conduct his classes for the first time.

Ji moved his school to Joong Boo Shi Jang in 1958 where he continued teaching until 1960. It was now that he began to piece together the Yoo Sool teachings of Grandmaster Choi, the methods of meditation, the Taek-Kyun kicking techniques, the weapons techniques learned from Taoist Lee, and the spiritual training he received from "grandma," to formulate his own style of martial art. He called this martial art "Hapkido."

Hapkido can be translated as the "way of coordinated power." Where "hap" means to unify or coordinate, "ki" means mental and/or physical energy, and "do" means a way of life.

The actual hapkido curriculum was not finalized until the early 1960's, when Moo-Woong Kim, a fellow student of Grandmaster Choi's, moved to Seoul to visit Han-Jae Ji.

He stayed for about eight months, practicing with Ji, and giving his input and advice about which kicking techniques should be used.
In 1962, Ji was given permission to instruct the Military Supreme Council in Hapkido techniques. Ji then received a government job teaching Hapkido to the Presidential Security. He then moved his school to Suh Dae Moon (West Gate section), to give him greater exposure to the public.

In the early 1960's, Ji came across a book on Japanese Aikido and noticed that the Japanese characters for Aikido were the same as for Hapkido. He didnít like the fact that a Japanese art had the "same name" as Hapkido, so he decided to drop the "Hap" from it's name, calling his art simply, "Kido."

On September 2, 1963, the Korean government granted a Charter to the Korea Kido Association. They were able to supervise the standards of teaching as well as promotion requirements of Black Belts in thirty-one different Korean martial arts. The first chairman of the Korea Kido Association was Yong-Sool Choi

Han-Jae Ji left the Korea Kido Association in 1965 and established the Korea Hapkido Association. The reasons for this were two fold.

First, the Korea Kido Association appointed Jung-Yoon Kim as Secretary-general. Kim dominated the policies of the Association and Ji did not like this situation.

Second, the students that were trained in Hapkido, did not like the new term, "Kido." They still called their martial art Hapkido, and continued to teach it as they learned it. They did not feel that it mattered that a Japanese art had the same name.

And finally, Han-Jae Ji was appointed Chief Hapkido Instructor for the President's Security Forces and had become a powerful person, which allowed him to operate his own organization without help from.

Three dominant Hapkido organizations began to immerge. These included:

The Korea Hapkido Association (founded in 1965 by Han-Jae Ji),
The Korea Hapki Association (founded in 1969 by Jae-Nam Myung), and
The Korean Hapkido Association (founded in 1971 by Moo-Woong Kim).

In 1973, the leaders of these organizations met and agreed to unify their associations into one.

The new association was named Dae Han Min Kuk Hapkido Hyub Hwe (Republic of Korea Hapkido Association).

Grandmaster Han-Jae Ji moved to the United States in 1984 and founded Sin Moo Hapkido, and Grandmaster Moo-Woong Kim resigned from the Republic of Korea Hapkido Association, and founded the International Hapki Federation.

Grandmaster Se-Lim Oh became the president of the Republic of Korea Hapkido Association, renaming it the Korea Hapkido Association (the name Ji had used in the 60's).

There are now still three main Hapkido organizations in Korea. These include:

The Korea Kido Association (In-Sun Seo, Pres.),
The Korea Hapkido Association (Se-Lim Oh, Pres.), and
The International Hapki Federation (Moo-Woong Kim, Pres.).