Hapkido means "the way of coordinated power".
Hap literally translated means coordination or harmony, Ki is the
essence of power and Do means the art or the way. It is the name
that was given to the traditional Korean art of Yu-Sol, after its
techniques were developed and refined by Choi Yong Shul in the
1930's. He added Aikido elements to Korean methods. All techniques
are used for their practical self defense purposes. Since the style
is predominately defensive, a practitioner generally allows an
attacker to make the first move, thereby committing him or herself.
originally a grappling and throwing art, it now includes a variety
of strikes and kicks. Hapkido was introduced in the United States
in the 1960's and it has grown in popularity
Hapkido incorporates powerful and fluid kicking
techniques; highly effective and flowing throwing techniques; and
precise and sharp hand techniques. This concise and practical martial
art is the result of a 1300 year pursuit of the Way.
Thirteen centuries ago, the land currently occupied
by North and South Korea consisted of 3 kingdoms - Kokuryo, Paikche
and Silla. The people of Kokuryo were known for their military
and intellectual skills (head). The Silla were craftsmen (hands).
The Paikche were agrarian (feet).
During this time it was felt that the security
of many, lay in the strength of a select few. This group
of elite young nobleman developed "a way of life." This "way" was
based upon adherence to a strict code of ethics and disciplined
lifestyle dedicated to living in harmony with the natural laws
of the universe. This group came to be known as Hwarangdo.
Wars and insurrections were a common part of everyday
life. King Chin-Heung of Silla, in concert with the Mongols, succeeded
in overthrowing the rulers of Kokuryo and Paikche. The remaining
royalty of defeated Kokuyro and Paikche Kingdoms fled to the mountains
or to the neighboring islands. One group of people from Kokuyro
sailed to the Island of Hokkaido, while another group sailed from
Paikche to Kyushu and established some of the first ancient settlements
Those that fled to the mountains established monastic
order and carried on their traditions in secret for the next 500
years. During this time devoted Monks practiced and refined their
Martial skills. Many of the monasteries developed their own fighting
styles and concepts. The most effective and devastating style was
known as Tae Kyon, primarily a martial art of kicking.
The Japanese Army invaded and ruled Korea from
1910 through the end of World War II. During that period it was
not uncommon for Korean families and treasures to be relocated
to Japan. During the Japanese occupation a young boy, Yong Sul
Choi, was sent to Japan. By the age of 9, Yong Sul Choi was alone
and living with a group of Monks in a Buddhist temple. Shortly
thereafter, it became apparent to the Monks that Yong Sul Choi
was not suited for monastic life.
At this time many great warriors, in accordance
with ancient traditions, undertook annual pilgrimages throughout
Japan to improve their martial arts skills. During their travels
they visited local temples to offer prayers and donations. One
such warrior, Master Shokaku Takeda, paid regular visits to the
monastery where Yong Sul Choi resided. During one of Master Takeda's
visits, the resident Monks, seeing an opportunity, beseeched Master
Takeda to take the young Choi as a disciple.
Master Takeda was taught the art of swordsmanship
by his Father and Grandfather. Master Takeda taught a weaponless
martial art known as Daito-Ryu Aiki Jujitsu. This
art emphasized the use of joint locks, strikes and nerve attacks
to neutralize an opponent.
The young Choi served as Master Takeda's assistant
and student. Consistent with the training methods of those
days, Master Takeda's training methods with the young Choi was
both tough and rigorous.
Yong Sul Choi remained in Japan for 35 years training
under Master Takeda. Near the end of World War II, Grand Master
Choi returned to Korea and opened a small school in Taegu, the
third largest city in Korea. He began training a small group of
students informally. Yong Sul Choi is credited with the founding
of modern day Hapkido.
Grand Master Bong Soo Han met and began training
with Yong Sul Choi shortly after the end of the Korean War. In
the ensuing years, Grand Master Han established a close and devoted
association with Yong Sul Choi, founder of Hapkido.