Not many people, actually know of the origins of H.K.D. and, more importantly, what makes it unique.

Controversy is nothing new to H.K.D. practitioners. As far back as H.K.D. can be recorded,
there have been disputes between masters on origins and the true beginnings of this art.

Three warriors from the korean Silla kingdom around 400 years ago designed a Martial Arts system called "Sam-Rang-Eui-Kwang".

Later, two masters of this system "Wang-Ga" und "Moon-In", moved to Japan to teach their art.

In 1921, professor Sik-Ji-Seong-Pyong renamed the system into "Dol-Gue-Ryu".

Paralell to this evulotion, some martial arts were only tought inside japanese family clans.
(as example the Takeda clan).

The most important persons in the history of Hap-Ki-Do were it´s founder Choi-Yong-Sool,
his first student Suh-Bok-Sup, and Ji-Han-Jae, who is responsible for the worldwide spread of H.K.D.

Master Jung-Moo-Kwon decided to unify the different Hap-Ki-Do groups and created the eagle image.

The first 12 Hap-Ki-Do schools in 1963 were: Yu-Sul, Yu-Kwon-Sul, Bi-Sul, Sung-Moo-Kwan, Kuk-Ki-Do, Kuk-Sool-Hwe, Shin-Moo-Kwan, Kuk-Sool-Kwan, Moo-Sool-Kwan, Kwang-Moo-Kwan, Han-Pool and Ki-Do.

Grandpatriarch Choi-Yong-Sool

The Hap-Ki-Do founder Grandpatriarch Choi-Yong-Sool (July 21,1899 to October 27,1986)
Choi was born in Hwang-gan, Choong-bok province, South Korea, and then lived in Yong-Dong, Choong-Chung province, as the son of a poor farmer.

He was abducted in 1908 by the Morimoto married couple who owned a candy factory, to Japan. They abandoned him in Moji city, from where he travelled alone to Osaka. Later the Police catched him, and put him into a buddhist temple in Kyoto, where he lived for arround 2 years under the custody of monk Kintaro Wadanabi, who was a good friend of the head of the Daito-Ryu-Ai-Ki-Jutsu Clan: Masayoshi Minamoto Sokaku Takeda (1859-1943).

In 1910 Takeda adopted Choi, and so he became his servant. During his time in Japan he used the name Yoshida (Asao) Tatujutu. It is wrong to believe that Choi was treated like an adopted son. He was a slave of Takeda, no more, no less.

Anyway, as time went by, Choi became Takeda´s top student, and presented his art together with him at many demonstrations, including during a trip to Hawai in 1932, together with Jintaro Abida, and two others. Choi studied the art of des "Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jutsu" until the death of his teacher.

Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jutsu, which includes over 6000 tecniques, was developed in 1087 from the
famous master "Yoshimitsu Shinra Saburo" and, until then, just tought inside the "Minamoto" (Seiwa-Gen-Ji) family clan.

In 1946 Soke Choi returned to Korea, but never was accepted from most of the martial artists as a Korean native. On his return to Korea, Choi Yong Sool got off the boat in Pusan City and on the train to Yong Dong, his hometown. From there, he left and moved to Taegae city. At the Younson train station, he got his bag robbed. All the money and certificates he had, were lost.

In 1947 Dojunim Choi was introduced from a master into the kicking art of "Tae-Kyon",
and one year later from another teacher into the buddhist art of "Bulkyo-Mu-Sul".

Then Choi, together with two of his students, eventually had the idea of combining these two styles with the art he had learned: the Yawara techniques from the Takeda-Ryu system.
As the result they wanted to create the most effective self defense system of his time.

So they took 270 basic techniques, and broke them down into three categories:

1. Empty hand vs. empty hand
2. Empty hand vs. weapon
3. Weapon vs. weapon

All kicking techniques Choi ever taught (first six, and later nine kicks only !), and
integrated into this new system, were only applied on low level (groin, knee and ankle joint).

Soke Choi kicks !

To realize the new concept, the following principles / concepts were appointed to the system:

Mechanical: Circle, Wave, straight line and triangle.
Physical: Centrifugal force, utilization of the opponents strength, spontaneous powerburst.
Psychological: Passivity, influence and effective humanity.

Later on, some other HKD masters add philosophies to Hap-Ki-Do. These are:
Honesty (Jong - Euye), courtesy (Yea - Euye) and patience (Ien - Nae)

Subsequently, Choi worked as a bodyguard for Suh-Bok-Sup´s father, a member of the parliament.

At this period, grandpatriarch Choi-Yong-Sool called his martial art

In 1953, he used the name "Dae-Dong-Ryu-Yu-Sul" and one year later he called it "Yu-Kwon-Sool.

Another name change was made from him together with his students Kang-Woo-Jin, and Suh-Bok-Sub in 1956: The name "Hap-Ki-Do" was born.

(NOTE: The masters Ji-Han-Jae, and Mu Kim first began using the name Hapkido in 1961 !!!)

In 1960, Choi founded the "Dae-Han Ki-Do Hwe" (Korea Ki-Do Hwe /
Korean Ki-Do Association), and in 1967 he establihed the "Jun-Moo-Kwan".

The "Dae-Han-Hap-Ki-Yu-Kwon-Sul-Kwan" was finally establihed by
Grandpatriarch Choi, Seo-Bok-Sub, Jang-Song-Ho, and Seo-Byong-Dong.
So probable only a handfull of Choi´s private students had learned the higher Dan techniques (as example: prinziples of knife fighting, the two arts of the middle sword and techniques / prinziples of the long sword) he had developed.

Suh-Bok- Sub /Sup (Seo Bok-Seob)

On February 10,1948, Suh-Bok-Sup started to study under Choi, and received his 4. Dan / degree Black Belt, on February 12,1951. Suh was Choi´s first student, and the designer of the arrowhead symbol of H.K.D.

Suh first met grandpatriarch Choi at saturday 21,1948. At this time Suh was 24 years old and held an 1. Dan in Judo.

Suh was the chairman of a brewery and one day, he watched Choi fighting against a group of young men, using techniques Suh never saw before.

Later, Suh asked Choi to demonstrate him some techniques, and so Choi told Suh to throw him.
But he was afraid to throw him realisticly because Choi was much older as he was. So he lightly grabbed him and Choi immediately used a painfull technique on him.
After a while Suh got mad, and attacked Choi with his best techniques, but he found himself always in trouble. Fascinated, he offered Choi a job as a martial arts teacher. Choi-Yong-Sool one day showed Suh a photograph of Takeda, his teacher and pulled out a business card from him. Choi told Suh that the style he practised was Ya-Wa-Ra of the Daito-Ryu-Ai-Ki-Jutsu.

The first school called "Daehan Hapki-Yu-Kwon-Sul-Kwan" was established in Daegue city, by Suh-Bok-Sup, and grandpatriarch Choi on February 12th, 1951.

In an interview at the "Inside Karate Magazine" May 1985, Suh states to be the Grandmaster, and 9th Dan of his own "Hoe-Shin-Mu-Sul" system.

Note: Records found at the Nonsan military archives revealing that a Martial Arts system already exsisted ca. 900 years ago, called "Hoe-Shin-Mu-Sul", which consisted of "Yu-Sool", and "Tae-Kyon". This art disappeared around 300 years ago.

Later Suh was a Professor of sport massage at the Korea National Athletic University, and a frequent lecturer at the Japan Chiropracric Association in Japan.

An revealing interview with GM Suh done by GM Michael Wollmershauser, which also was video taped, you can find here



Born in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea in 1936, Ji studied at Soke Choi's first school between 1953 (and not as he claims from 1949 !) to 1956, and received the 3. Dan in Yu Kwan Sool (cert. number 14).

He then had an argument with Soke Choi, were he complained about all the higher Dan techniques which Doju Choi held back, and refused to tought him. The dispute between the two lasted up to the death of Grandpatriarch Choi. This explains, why all of Ji's students lacked on those techniques, and were stucked on cane, long, and short staff, as their highest methods.

This problem got more visible world-wide, as some of them had their own Dan students, but no further material to teach. This results in a stop of Dan gradings higher then 3rd or 4th Degree for many years.

Jae never took any more grading tests in his life, but received honorary ranks like:

8th Dan when he was 29, 9th Dan when he was 35, and 10th Dan when he was 47 years of age !

After his breakup with Choi, he founded the "Ma-Jan-Dong-Kwan" in 1957.

During this time, he also learned Tae Kyon kicks from Kim, Moo-Hyun.

In 1958, Ji-Han-Jae went to Byung Ock (Edward) Yoon at his Ho Shin Do Headquarters to negotiate a compromise to create an association. The result was an association between Yoon's "Ho Shin Do" and Ji's system, officially named the
"Korea Hap Ki Do Association".

Two years later in 1960, Ji moved to Seoul, to open up his own school.

Ji integrated all known acrobatic, high and jumped kicking techniques in his Hap-Ki-Do style.

In 1962, he was the co-founder of the "Ki-Do-Yae" (Korean Ki-Do Association) and later trained under a monk called Hei-Dong-Seu-Nim.

In 1965, he was the co-founder of the "Korea Hap-Ki-Do Association. (Dae-Han-Hap-Ki-Do-Hyub-Hoe) which was canceled in 1973. This organization was reestablished by Oh-Se-Lim in 1984.

Also in 1984 Kim-Moo-Woong, Jae-Nam-Myung established the "Republic of Korea H.K.D. Association (Dae-Han-Min-Kuk-Hap-Ki-Do Association) and Ji created his own H.K.D. style called "Sin-Moo".

Today, most lineages of the highest ranking Korean H.K.D. practitioners, are going back to Ji-Han-Jae, and his limited, incomplete H.K.D. knowledge.

Dr. Joo Bang Lee

Another version of the foundation of H.K.D. is told by Dr. Joo Bang Lee who took together with his brother Master Joo Sang Lee Dae-Dong-Ryu-Yu-Sool lessons from Soke Choi.

Dr. Joo Bang Lee says that he and some of his friends founded the name Hapkido in 1961, but was used originally in 1959 from Master Moon Kang who opened a school in Daegu.

Additionally he states that in 1961, YuSool masters Han-Jae-Ji and Mu-Kim (Founder ShinMu Kwan in 1961)began using this new Hapkido name. He states that they received master positions of this art in 1956 and still used the name Hapkido while teaching their Hwa Rang Do® skills in the 60´s.

Dr. Joo Bang Lee also says that he and Han-Jae-Ji was certified as a 8. Dan by Soke Choi in 1968. Lee´s brother Joo Sang was a 6th Dan at the time.

Choi Bok Yeol

The second Doju of Hapkiyusul was Choi Bok Yeol, the son of Choi Yong Sul Dojunim.Choi Bok Yeol was born in 1942. As a young man he began to train under his father in Taegu.In 1985 Choi Bok Yeol received the status of 2nd Doju from his father Choi Yong Sul Dojunim. Tragically, Choi Bok Yeol the 2nd Doju of Korean Hapkiyusul died in 1987.


Chang claims to be the official successor of the late Grandpatriarch Yong-Sul-Choi since January 15, 1985 and the only one ever received a 10th degree black belt from Soke Choi.

Kim Yun Sang

In 1984 he received 9.Dan from Choi Yong Sul Dojunim. Then on April 17th 2002 Soke Choi’s family provited him with the rank of 10th Dan, and the status as 3rd Doju of Hap-Ki-Do.

Jong Bae Rim

He began his HKD training in 1964 and received his 1.Dan three years later.
In 1973 he received 6.Dan from Choi Yong Sul Dojunim, and became the chief instructor of his dojang.

Jang In Mok

Grandmaster Jang In Mok(Born 1912) of Taegue city who also trained under Takeda Sokaku and returned, as Grandpatriarch Choi did, to Taegue city in Korea in 1945. Grandmaster Jang is a doctor of oriental medicine and taught his Aikijitsu as Hapkido. His top student was Grandmaster 10th Dan, Choi, Han Young who is the the founder of Chun Ki Hapkido.

Kim Mu Jin

Grandmaster Jin was another student of grandpatriarch Choi, who in 1964 also studied under Sensei Yokuyama at the "Hwang Do Ip Gwang Ryu" (Japanese: Godo Hakko Ryu) school. Kim first called his teachings "Yawara", but changed the name to "Yoo Sool" in 1975. The Korean Education Ministry recognized "Yoo Sool" in 1983.

Myung Kwang-Sik

Grandmaster Myung (1941 - 2009) began his study of Hapkido under Grandmaster Ji-Han-Jae in Seoul at the Ma Jang Dong school in 1957, and later also learned from Grandpatriarch Choi. One of his strange claimes was: "From 1954 to 1959, I worked closely with Soke Choi to develop Hapkido forms (Hyung), which I started to teach after". In 1967 the "Sung Mu Kwan" of the "Korean Hapkido Association" sent Grandmaster Myung, as well as 14 other Black Belts to Vietnam to demonstrate, and teach Korean, US, and Vietnamese troops as well as Special Forces. He established the Korea Hapkido Yon Moo Kwan Association in 1968, and also published a Korean-language book, “Hapkido,” in the same year. In 1973 he immigrated to the USA, and formed the "World Hapkido Association" the same year. The name of this organization was changed to "World Hapkido Federation" in 1985. In 1986 he received his 9th dan from Grandmaster Ji Han Jae and, later, his 10th Dan through the KIDOHAE by Grandmaster Hwang Duk Kyu.

Lim (Im) Hyun Soo (Suh)

He studied under Soke Choi from 1965 until his death, of which the last 9 years he received special private lessons.
In 1983 he received a 9th degree black belt from him. For his 1st dan test he only had to perform 26 techniques !
He founded the Jungkikwan in 1974.

In Sun Seo

Even strangly most people stating that he is a Kuk-Sool Master, and never received any formal higher rank in HKD
(1st Dan in 1958 from Soke Choi, and only 3 years later 3rd Dan from someone unknown !), he found the "Han Min Jok Hapkido Association" in 2003. He is the brother of "In Hyuk Suh", who claimes to found the "Kuk-Sool-Won", what is very questionable, but read this, and make up your own opinion !

Byung Ock (Edward) Yoon

In 1947 he began his training, at the age of 7. In 1953, Byung started to study "Ho-Shin-Sul" under Lee Dong Gu, who brought this system to South Korea in the same year. "Ho-Shin-Sul" was developed in the Korean Goguryeo Kingdom (37 BC to 668 AD), in what is now Southern Manchuria. Until today this system remained intact, and active in North Korea. In 1963, Byung opened his Hoshindo school, the "Kuk Chae Kwan" in Seoul.

From 1965 he called his Hoshindo "Kung Jung Mu Sul = Traditional Royal Court Martial Arts", but changed it back in 1975, because Soon-Tae-Yang (an early Kuk-Sool-Won student of In-Hyuk Suh), registered this term.

Morihei Ueshiba

In 1915 Yoshida Kotaro, a student of Takeda, introduced Morihei Ueshiba (the founder of Ai-Ki-Do / 1883-1969), to his teacher at the Hisada Inn, in the town of Engaru, Hokkaido. There, Ueshiba trained with Takeda for 30 days, and three other seminars at the following year in 1916. Ueshiba left Hokkaido in December 1919.



A picture is worth a thousand words !

Here two of many pictures, were straighten out the facts !

As the highest ranking, and most Senior Grandmaster, Jae-Nam-Myung sits 3rd from left of the row.
Next to his left, (and so also Junior to the Grandmaster on Myung`s right side !) sits Ji Han Jae!

At this picture, Ji Han Jae sits in the front row (4th from left). To his right in the middle,
and so equally in rank sits Hwang Deok Kyu, and then Kwang Shik Myung.

At both pictures on the upper back wall, amazingly Soke Choi-Yong-Sool is displayed,
respected, and recognized by all of this group, as the one, and only founder of Hapkido !!!