Go to content

Main menu:


Global HKD Won



Not many people, actually know of the origins of Hap-Ki-Do, and, more importantly, what makes it unique. Controversy is nothing new to Hap-Ki-Do 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 HKD 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 HKD 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. In 1916 Choi went to his first "outdoor discipline training” in Mt. Mizkaki, Akeda, Japan, together with Yamamoto, Morimoto, Miyamoto, and Hiyashi The training included sword-, and stick methods, as well as meditation, and physical conditioning. The training was so hard, that only he, and Takeda remained at the last trip in 1922. Eight years later in 1930, Choi resides in Otaru, Kitami City, for a short while, and then moved to Asahikawa (1930-1935).

Over the years, Choi performed many demonstrations together with Takeda, including during a trip to Hawai in 1932, together with Jintaro Abida, and two others.

After receiving the message of the death of Sogaku Takeda (1943), Choi was drafted by the Japanese "Special Forces". He is elected to teach other soldiers but deserts after 6 months, hiding in Tokyo where his age belies his status as a military deserter until the war ends in 1945. Finally, in 1946 he returns to Korea from Japan by ship to Busan.

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

Back in Korea, Choi 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).

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.

Three years later in 1959, Master Moon-Jin-Kang, who opened a school in Daegu, started to use the name HKD.

(NOTE: The masters Joo Bang Lee, Ji-Han-Jae, and Kim-Moo-Woong (aka Kim-Mu-Hong)
first began using the name Hapkido in 1961, even Ji today states that it was in 1957,
which would be still after it was already been used !!!)

About Sin-Mu, the Shin-Mu-Kwan aka Sin-Mu-Kwan aka Sin Moo-Kwan,
Sin-Moo, etc., which uses / use the Korean letters 신 무 :

The founder of the original, first Shin-Mu-Kwan (closed 1970) was Kim-Moo-Woong
(aka Kim-Mu-Hong). He became the Dojunim of Shin-Mu-Hapkido in 1961.
In 1983 Ji-Han-Jae became the second Dojunim of Sin-Moo !

33 years later, in 2016, Kim-Bu-Ki founded the 해신무 Hae-Sin-Moo-Kwan. He was a
student of Lee-Yong-Soo, who learned from Chang-Ge-Do, a student of Ji-Han-Jae.

About Jin-Mu, or the Chin-Mu-Kwan, etc., which uses the Korean letters 진 무 :
The first Chin-Mu-Kwan was a Tae-Kwon-Do school founded in 1959 by
Howard Y. Kang (1931 – 2021), one of the original Tae-Kwon-Do creators.
In 2007 Lim-Chae-Kwan established Jin-Mu-HKD

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 in 1948. At this time Suh (24 years old) 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 that he later establish the Soo-Duk-Kwan, and 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.

Two revealing interviews with Choi, you can find here:


Born in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea in 1936, Ji studied at Soke Choi's first
school between 1953, and 1956, and received the 3. Dan in Yu Kwan Sool (cert. number 14).
It is unclear if he also learned from Soke Choi before, in the years 1949 to 1952.

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:

Two 8th Dan: First in 1965 when he was 29, and 1968 one from Soke Choi

9th Dan in 1981 from the "Sae Ma Eul Hapkido Association"
which was headed by several former students of Ji Han Jae.
Also maybe another 9th Dan already in 1971.

10th Dan in 1983 from his former student Myung Jae-nam
(who received his own 8th Dan 1972 from Ji Han Jae !).

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 HKD Association. (Dae-Han-Hap-Ki-Do-Hyub-Hoe) which was canceled in 1973. This organization was re-established by Oh-Se-Lim in 1984,
the same year when Kim-Moo-Woong, and Jae-Nam-Myung established the
"Republic of Korea H.K.D. Association (Dae-Han-Min-Kuk-H.K.D. Association).

In 1983 Ji created his own Hapkido system, which he called "Sin-Moo".
As the Korean letters for "Sin-Moo" are the same as for Kim-Moo-Woong´s "Shin-Mu"
from 1961, it is unclear if Ji sees his system as an enhancement of Woong´s ? Fact is, that there is no permission from Woong known to public, which allows Ji the use of the term "Shin-Mu", especially in Korea ! In any way, this is how Ji became the second Dojunim of Sin-Mu !

Today, most lineages of the highest Grandmasters, are going back to Ji-Han-Jae.

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.

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
Choi Bok Yeol (1942-1987) was the son of Choi Yong Sul, and began to
train under his father in Taegu, as a young man. Together with Chin-Il-Chang,
he was also awarded the status of the 2nd Doju from his father in 1985.

After paying huge amounts of money over a period of minimum 30 years, Chang finally
received one of two (the second one was given at the same day to Choi Bok Yeol) Doju scrolls
from the late Grandpatriarch Yong-Sul-Choi on January 15, 1985. This made Bok Yeol, and
him the only official successors of Soke Choi´s HKD system. Additionally Soke Yong-Sul-Choi
issued him the only 10th Dan certificate on April 5, 1985. He died on Feb. 23, 2018,
at the age of 77, and left the world without an official successor of the original Doju title !!!

Kim Yun Sang
Kim (1934-2021) began his Hapkido training in the early 1960s under Chang Gedo,
and first met with Choi Yong Sul in 1972. Later, he established the Yong-Sool Kwan in 1980.
In 1984 he received the 9th Dan from Choi Yong Sul Dojunim. Grandmaster Kim began using the term Hapkiyusul in 1987. Then on April 17th 2002 Soke Choi Yong Sul's daughter in law provited him with the rank of 10th Dan in Hap-Ki-Yu-Sul, and the status as 3rd Dojunim of Hap-Ki-Do. Shortly after his death in 2021, the Australian Master Jarrod Taylor received an honorary 9th Dan, and the title of 4th Dojunim of Hap-Ki-Do / Hap-Ki-Yu-Sul, and the Yong-Sul Kwan.

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, 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 Korea, as Grandpatriarch Choi did, 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 Ji Han Jae and, later, his 10th Dan through the KIDOHAE by Grandmaster Hwang Duk Kyu.

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. (Also Ko-Myong, a Germany based HKD student of Park-Hyun-Soo, was forced to stop using the name Kung Jung Mu Sul, after 10 years in 1993, and renamed his system "Shinson Hapkido".) (FYI: Before 1960's, Hae-Taek-Park, Jang-Yong, and Hee-Dong-Park were the successors of Kung Jung Mu Sul. They taught Mahn-Dong-Park from 1960 to 1970.)

Morihei Ueshiba
In 1915, Takeda´s student Yoshida Kotaro, introduced Morihei (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. All together, Morihei had seventy days practice as a student.
Latest research results indicate, that he only learned a small part of the Daito-ryu
curriculum, but which he trained very hard. Ueshiba left Hokkaido in December 1919.
The next three years, he started teaching without credentials, but in 1922, after paying a high amount of money, Morihei received a "kyoju dairi" ~ instructor certificate from Takeda.

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 !

Myung Jae Nam
Myung Jae Nam was born 1938, and his introduction to martial arts began under his grandfather, Myung Jung Min, who taught him wrestling, and stick fighting. He started HKD under Grandmaster Ji Han Jae at the Joong Bu Si Jang dojang (Ji´s 3rd school in Seoul) in 1959. Later he exchanged techniques with a Japanese-American Aikido practitioner Sensei Hirata. In 1972 he was the 8th person to receive an 8th Dan from Ji Han Jae. Two years later he changed the name of his organization to “Kukje Yong Meng Hapki Hwe” (AKA: International Hapkido Federation).

Home | About | Titles | Global HKD Won | Countries | Dan Members | Membership | Laws & Statutes | Education | Our systems | History & Infos | Gallery | Legal issues | News | Martial Arts Links | Non-MA topics | Contact | | General Site Map
Back to content | Back to main menu