History of Hapkido
The information below is from the International Hapkido Federation. AIMHI and MASH are not represented by the IHF.
Hapkido is a Korean Martial Art familiar to most people knowledgeable in the Martial Arts field. Not many people, however, actually know of its origins and more importantly, what makes it unique. Hapkido was derived from Daito-ryu-Aikijutsu, combined with a blend of Korean TaeKyeon. Aikijujutsu was brought over from Japan to Korea in 1946 after World War II by Young-Sool Choi, the founder of Hapkiyoosool. Choi studied with the same Master of Aikijujutsu (Sokaku Takeda) as did Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. People often ask, "Why did they not just call it Aikijujutsu then?" Hapkiyoosool is how the Korean Language pronounces the same Kanji (Hanmoon) as the Japanese Language pronounces it Aikijujutsu. So in reality, it was the same thing by a different name at that time. Choi, Young-Sool taught a man named Ji, Han-Jae. Ji, Han-Jae started his own school and added kicks and strikes from the art of TaeKyeon creating a new form of martial art. In that school, our current president Chang, Young-Shil learned Hapkiyoosool being taught under the names of Hapkisool or Hapkiyoosool. "Sool" means "technique". "Do" means "way". Hapkido is a way of life, Hapkiyoosool are the techniques.
Our federation uses the name Hapkido because our roots are from Choi, Yong-Sul through Ji Han-Jae and then Chang, Young-Shil. Ji Han-Jae (as history shows) was the person who coined the name Hapkido and many followed this name. Ji Han-Jae had changed the name to Hapkido because it became a way of life for him as well as many others, not just technique. Hapkido greats like Han Bong-Soo, Lim Hyun-Soo, Suh In-Seo, Suh In-Hyuk, Lee Joo-Bang and many others. The founder of our organization's instructor was Ji Han-Jae while it was still Hapkiyoosool under Choi, Yong-Sul's direction. We were also affiliated with Han, Bong-Soo and Myung, Jae-Nam during those times. Many instructors worked together to create a new way of defense. There was no Tae-Kyeon in Japan so they had to create a system of defense against those types of attacks. To know your enemy is to know victory. We became the "International Hapkido Federation" after Chang, Young-Shil started his own school in 1968. The techniques are still refered to as Hapkiyoosool, the art is Hapkido.
To understand the unique nature of Hapkido, it is perhaps best to become more acquainted with its above mentioned predecessors.
Choi, Young Sool (1904-1986), one of the most influential people in the development of modern Korean martial arts, was born in Chung Buk province in Korea. Choi's parents died when he was very young. In 1913 he was taken to Japan from Korea by a Japanese candy maker. Choi was eight or nine years old at the time. The candy maker ultimately abandoned Choi due to his uncontrolable energy. He began to wander the streets as a beggar and was regularly assaulted by other children. As is tradition in Japan, non-Japanese are literally looked upon as literally non-humans; thus Choi's life in Japan was filled mostly with hardship and discrimination. He was given over to the BUddhist temple for disciplline. While visited that temple, a friend of the priest named Takeda Sokaku took notice of Choi because of his unique situation. Takeda took Choi into his home to serve as his houseboy.
Choi was given the Japanese name of Tatujutu Yoshida. Choi's Japanese name has also been given as Asao, Yoshida by some sources. An attempt at education was not successful because Choi was disinterested in schoolwork and often wound up in fights with other school children. Consequently, he was unable to get a formal education. Unable to attend school, Choi spent his days doing work around the home and dojo of his master, Sokaku Takeda (1860-1943). Takeda taught a style called Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu. Somehow during his exposure to the dojo over the next 30 years, Choi acquired the techniques of Aiki-Jujutsu. Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, was also a student of Takeda for 5 years. The fact that Choi knew what he was doing is proof enough. Some claim that Choi's Daito-Ryu training was limited to attending seminars but, we all know that you can't learn as much as he knew by merely attending seminars. Hapkido's significant similarities to Daito-Ryu-Aikijujutsu gives proof that Hapkido's link to it is real.
Choi returned to Korea after Takeda's death and began studying the kicking techniques of TaeKyeon(after all; how can you defend against something you don't understand). He eventually called his style "HapkiYooKwonSool" or "Hapkiyoosool". Korean sources tend to emphasize the Korean arts lineage of Hapkido over the Aikijujutsu lineage, with some even omitting the Aikijujutsu connection. However, as noted above, the connection can be seen in the techniques. It is doubtful, as has been suggested, that Choi was adopted by Takeda. This not the custom in Japan, neither then or now, for Japanese families (especially prominent Japanese families) to adopt Korean children. Supporting the scenario that Choi was merely a houseboy is the lack of any listing of his name, either Korean or Japanese, in any of the official records of Daito-Ryu Aki Jujitsu. Nonetheless, it must be recognized and understood that Choi did in fact learn this art and bring it to Korea after the death of Takeda at the end of World War II. Upon his return to Korea in the winter of 1945, Choi changed his name back to Choi, Young-Sool.
Choi lost a piece of his luggage during his return home, which contained his money and the certificates which were proof of his training with Takeda Sensei. Bok-Sub Suh verifies that fact. Because of the lack of money, Choi decided to stay in Taegu rather than return to his home in Chung-Buk. After a year of working as a bread salesman on the street, Choi managed to save enough money to begin raising pigs. In order to feed his pigs, he would get up early every morning and travel to the Suh Brewery Company to obtain free leftover grain chaff.
In 1947, Bok-Sub Suh, who was a black belt in Yudo and the president of the Suh Brewery company, witnessed a fight from his second floor office window. He watched in amazement as a man defended himself against several attackers, with little effort. Suh was very impressed with, and curious about, what he had observed. He sent his office clerk to bring this man to his office. The man turned out to be Choi. Suh asked Choi what kind of martial arts he practiced. Without really answering the question, he 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 immediately grabbed Choi's lapel again, and was simply thrown to the floor a second time. After being defeated twice, Suh begged for Choi to teach him, promising him more free chaff, as well as payment for lessons. When Choi agreed, Suh prepared a dojang at the brewery where Choi then had the opportunity to teach what he had studied for so many years in Japan.
It was during the next few years that Choi would begin to establish himself as an outstanding and well-respected martial arts instructor. He called his art Hapki Yoo Sool (Korean pronunciation of Aiki ju-jutsu). He was teaching exactly what he had learned from Takeda Sensei. He did, however, slowly begin to add kicks. You must understand how the enemy attacks in order to defend against them.
In 1954, Bok-Sub Suh was involved in an incident where he had to defend his father, Dong-Jin Suh, who was up for election to the National Assembly. A fight ensued against a few gangsters, and using kicks learned through his training in Yoo Sool, Suh defeated the gangsters. After some thought, Suh decided to suggest to Choi that the name Yoo Sool be changed to Yoo Kwon Sool, to represent the fact that besides joint locks and throwing techniques, they were also practicing strikes and kicks.
After the end of the Korean War while Choi was still teaching Bok-Sub Suh, he opened his own private school at his house 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. They include, In-Hyuk Suh (Kuk Sool Won), Dr. Joo-Bang Lee (Hwa Rang Do), Bong-Soo Han (Hapkido), and Han-Jae Ji (Hapkido).
Choi, Yong-Sul visited America in 1982 to attempt a unity of Hapkido in the USA.