Hapkido: "The Way of Coordinated Power"
Yong-Sool Choi (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, and when he was eight or nine year old he was taken to Japan from Korea by a Japanese candy maker. Choi eventually became very homesick and was ultimately abandoned by the candy maker. He began to wander the streets as a beggar and was regularly assaulted by other children. A Japanese man took notice of Choi because of the unique situation he is in - being so young and having to beg for food and money. This man took Choi in and eventually adopted him. Before the adoptive father send Choi to school to get and education, his name was changed to Tatujutu Yoshida. The attempt at education was not a successful one because Yoshida (Choi) did not speak enough Japanese to understand the teachers. He became disinterested in school work and often wound up in fights with the other school-children. Consequently, he was asked if he wanted to get a regular education or learn to fight. He chose fighting, and was enrolled in a Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jutsu (pronounced Dae-Dong-Ryu Hap-Ki-Sool in Korean) dojo with Sokaku Takeda (1860-1943), where he trained for almost 30 years. Sensing that Japan was loosing WWII, Yoshida (Choi) began to make plans to return home to Korea - and did so in the winder of 1945. Upon his return home, he changed his name back to Yong-Sool Choi.
Somehow during the trip home, Choi lost a piece of his luggage, which unfortunately contained his money and the certificates which were proof of his training with Takeda Sensei. Because of a lack of money, Choi decided to stay in Tae Gu rather than to return to his home in Chung-Buk. After a year of working a s 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, witnesses a fight from his second floor office window, where he watched in amazement as one man defended himself against several attackers, with little effort. He was impressed and curious about what he had observed and sent his office clerk to bring this man to his office. The man turned out to be Yong-Sool 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 he was simply thrown to the floor a second time. After being defeated twice, Suh begged to Choi to teach him, promising him more free chaff, as well as paying him money 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 Yoo Sool (Korean pronunciation of Ju-Jutsu). A few minor modifications were made, but for the most part, he was teaching exactly what he had learned from Takeda Sensei. He did, however, slowly begin to add techniques, including some kicks and weapon techniques.
In 1954, Bok-sub Suh was involved in an accident where he defended 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 arts styles. These included Hwang-Kee (Tang-Soo-Do), In-Hyuk Suh (Kuk Sool Won), Dr. Joo-Bang Lee (Hwa Rang Do), and Han-Jae Ji (Hapkido).
Han-Jae Ji was born in 1936 in Andong, Korea. He began his martial arts training in Yoo Sool with Choi in 1949 at the age of 13. He trained full time with Choi until 1956 when he moved back to his home city of Andong from Seoul. When Ji was just eighteen he began to train with a man who he refers to as Taoist Lee. Taoist Lee, trained Han-Jae Ji primarily in various methods of meditation, and in the use of the Jang-Bong (6' staff), the Dan-Bong (short stick), and in Korean Taek-Kyun kicking. During the same period, a lady monk known to Ji only as "grandma" taught him spiritual power for almost five years.
In Andong, Han-Jae Ji, then a 3rd degree, opened his first dojang which he called An Moo Kwan and began to teach Yoo Kwon Sool. After approximately nine months in Andong, Ji decided to relocate to Seoul in September o f1957. He stayed in a boarding house in Wang Shim Ri. The son of the owner of the boarding house, Duk-Kyu Hwang, became his first disciple at his new dojang, called Sung Moo Kwan.
Ji was also able to open an additional small dojang at a neck-tie factory where he had only a few students. These students were mainly from Han Yang University. Eventually, Ji's skills and teaching became even better and he decided to move to a more suitable location. He rented a room from a man named Bong-Ah Ko, a local boxing instructor, and for the first time has access to a regular mat where he could conduct classes.
In 1958, Ji moved his school to Joong Boo Shi Jang where he continued teaching until April of 1960. It was during the period when Ji began to piece together the Yoo Sool (Yoo Kwon Sool) teachings of Grandmaster Choi, with the methods of meditation, the Taek-Kyun kicking techniques, and the weapons techniques learned from Taoist Lee, along with the spiritual training he received from "grandma" to formulate his own style of martial art, for which he chose the name "Hapkido". He had originally thought of calling it "Hapki-Yoo-Kwon-Sool", but decided against that, feeling it was too long of a name. He thought of other martial arts he had heard of, such as Tae-Kwon-Do, Kong-Soo-Do, Soo-Bak-Do, etc, where the word 'do' was being used instead of 'sool'. He liked this idea because the word 'do' means a path to follow, or a way of life, rather than simply meaning 'technique', as 'sool' implies. The name Hapkido was chosen in 1959, and has been used ever since. The word itself can be translated as the "way of coordinated power". Where "hap" means to unify or coordinate, "ki" means mental and/or physical energy, and "do" means a way of life, or the 'path' or 'way' of coordinating your mental and physical energy into one entity.
The actual Hapkido curriculum was not finalized until the early 1960's after a fellow student of Grandmaster Choi's, Moo-Woong Kim, moved to Seoul to visit and stuffy with this friend Han-Jae Ji. He stayed for approximately eight months, during which he practiced with Ji, and gave his input and advice regarding which kicking techniques should be adopted (Kim also had previous Taek-Kyun training). The only significant difference that evolved from this collaboration was that Ji taught that a low spinning kick be done with only the ball of the supporting foot touching the ground; whereas, Kim teaches that the knee and foot are both on the ground while the kick is executed. In 1984, Grandmaster Han-Jae Ji moved to the United States and founded Sin Moo Hapkido.
In 1990, the name "Combat Hapkido" came about and in 1999, the Combat Hapkido System was officially recognized and accredited as a legitimate "Kwan" of Hapkido. It still has since been modernized and encompasses extremely realistic and versatile discipline of self protection that includes an extensive variety of strikes, kicks, joint locks, pressure points, grappling and disarming techniques. The result is a practical, comprehensive Self Defense system that is enjoyable to learn and that produces effective results in realistic situations.
Our system of Close Combat Hapkido is based on the traditional in addition to scientific principles of anatomy and biokinetics as well as psychology and strategy. It is well suited for men and women of all ages because physical strength and athletic abilities are not essential. The emphasis is on redirecting the assailants' aggression and power back towards them with little effort and minimum force on your part. Coming up with this form of Hapkido did not involve "inventing" any really new techniques. It was a matter of selecting the most realistic, effective, and practical ones, modifying others and then combining and arranging these techniques in a structured system of instruction designed for individuals of all physical abilities living in a modern society. It is the synthesis of dynamic concepts, scientific principles, realistic applications and plain common sense.