Disclaimer – The exact history of Hapkido is contested.
The father of Hapkido is Doju Choi Yong Sul (1904-1986), who was born in the Chingbuk province near Taegue, in a village named Yong Dong. A Japanese candy merchant named Morinoto, took Choi Yong Sul to Moji, Japan when he was around 8 years old. Shortly after arriving in Japan, Choi Yong Sul survived by begging and after being picked up by the police, was sent to a Buddhist temple with a monk named Kintaro Wadanabi. After 2 years of living in the temple, he was sent to the monk’s friend, Takeda Sokaku, the 32nd patriarch of Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu. Choi Yong Sul was given the Japanese name Yoshida. It is disputed as to whether Takeda Sokaku treated him as an adopted son, although Choi Yong Sul did consider Takeda Sokaku his father. We do know that Choi Yong Sul was originally assigned to be Takeda’s houseboy and later became a personal manservant. Ueshiba Morihei who founded the Japanese martial art of Aikido was an older contemporary of Choi Yong Sul and studied under Takeda Sokaku briefly while Choi Yong Sul was in Takeda Sokaku’s service. Although Korean Hapkido and Japanese Aikido have similar origins and even some similar techniques, there is a difference in the philosophy of the two martial arts.
Upon the death of Takeda in April 25, 1943 Choi Yong Sul returned to Taegue, Korea. Choi Yong Sul’s unique skills became well known and many martial artists came to learn from him. Hapkido went through many names before being called Hapkido. The names were, Yusul, Yu Kwon Sul, Daedong Hap Ki Yu Kwon Sul and Hap Ki Yu Kwon Sul. Hap Ki Yu Kwon Sul became Hapkido in 1958. In 1963, Choi Yong Sul became the chairman of the newly founded Korea Kido Association, an umbrella organization of all Korean martial arts and acknowledged by the Korean government. Choi Yong Sul died in August of 1986 at the age of 82 and was buried in Taegu.
The Growth of Hapkido
Hapkido developed slowly and others influenced its development. Many of the techniques that are part of the Hapkido we practice were not part of the original system taught by Choi Yong Sul upon his return to Korea from Japan. This type of maturity is common for martial arts after the original development. Of primary influence in Hapkido’s development was Ji Han Jae. Ji was a student of Choi and after attaining 3rd Dan in what was then called Yu Kwon Sool he was appointed head of Yu Kwon Sool in the Seoul district. He changed the name to Hapkido. He also gave the name to his instructor Choi. Ji added the many kicking skills to Hapkido.
Daito Ryu Aiki JuJutsu
Daitoryu Aiki Jujutsu is one of the oldest recorded forms of Japanese aiki jujutsu. According to the Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu Honbu Dojo, the art was founded in 1087. The first historic documentation of Aiki Jujutsu’s existence, however, attributes the style’s development to Shinra Saburo Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (1045-1127 AD), the third son of Minamoto no Yoriyoshi who was the 5th generation descendant of Emperor Seiwa and lived in a castle known as Daito (great eastern). The Minamoto family was one of the major ruling clans of Japan during the Heian Period (794-1185 AD). Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-1199 AD) led Japan into the Kamakura Period (1192-1333 AD) by establishing the Kamakura Shogunate. This was a period of Japanese history when the samurai aristocrats governed the country with military rule. The eldest son of Minamoto no Yoshimitsu, Yoshikiyo moved away from the central clan to an area known as Kai. He then founded a new branch of the Minamoto clan, known as Kaigengitakeda. Kai from the region, Gengi the original Chinese root of their family name and Takeda the new chosen family name. From this came the birth of the Takeda family. Daito Ryu was then passed down through the Takeda family until Takeda Sokaku (1858-1943 AD) received the martial art and opened a Daito Ryu school in Hokkaido, Japan. Japan emerged from isolation into the Meiji period of 1868 and Takeda Sokaku was the first person to open a Daito Ryu school in which the general public could attend.
Hapkido has evolved into a dynamic and exciting art that encompasses all aspects of martial arts. From Hapkido’s roots in Aiki Jujutsu we have the highly evolved joint locking and throwing skills so effective in self-defense. Hapkido has spectacular Korean kicking skills. Hapkido uses both ancient and modern techniques honed over time and proven throughout history. And Hapkido has practical and realistic weapons skills an defenses. A modern art with ancient roots Hapkido is alive and growing, relevant and responsive to the needs of today. Hapkido- At the pinnacle of a thousand years of martial arts progress.
Info taken in large part from Master Longton’s Precision Martial Arts