Hapkido is a highly eclectic Korean Martial art. It is a form of self defense that employs joint locks, grappling and throwing techniques of other martial arts as well as kicks, punches and other striking attacks. There is also use of traditional weapons including knife, sword, rope, jool bong, cane, short stick & middle length staff which vary in emphasis depending on the particular tradition examined.
The character ‘Hap‘ means co-ordination or joining ‘Ki’ means internal energy, spirit , strength or power and ‘Do’ means the way of doing it. Hapkido contains both long and close range fighting techniques utilizing jumping kicks & hand strikes at longer ranges & pressure point strikes, joint locks or throws at closer fighting distances. It emphasizes circular motion, redirection of force and control of opponent. Practitioners seek to gain advantage through footwork & body position to incorporate the use of beverage, avoiding the use of strength against strength.
The birth of modern Hapkido can be traced to the efforts of a group of Korean Nations in the past Japanese colonials period of Korea, Choi yoong sool(1904-1986). The essence of Hapkido lies in the unification of Chun Ki (heaven’s ki), Ji Ki (earth’s ki), In Ki (man’s ki) in the danjun and cultivation of ki through each respiration. This is coupled with external development of the muscles, joints, bones and skin. Through training, one develops mental and physical fitness and acquires the ability to defend oneself against hostile attack. Specific elements of Hapkido include yoolsool, danjunki bub, kwon bub, joksool, gum bub, bong sool among others and can be categorized into subparts according to given methodology. It is truly comprehensible martial arts that follow the principles of you won wha. It makes it possible for a person with less strength to defeat a much stronger foe.
The history and origin of Hapkido is somewhat controversial so the following just touches on the basics. Part of Hapkido history is traced back to 7th Century Korea during the Silla Dynasty with the formation of the Hwa Rang which pursued the first organized study of martial arts in Korea. Eventually membership dissipated and the secrets of the arts became secluded with the Buddhist monks, who exchanged information with their Chinese brethren. Tae Kyun, the hybrid art, resulted from the original when it was combined with traditional forms of the Hwa Rang together with Chinese influences of low spin kicks as well as circular motion blocks.
Choi Yong Sool, the founder of Hapkido, plays a major role in the origins of Hapkido. Choi was orphaned as a young child and was taken to Japan from Korea when he was eight or nine years old where he was quickly abandoned to the streets. He was soon taken in by Takeda Sokaku, a Daito-Ryu Aki-Jutsu master who trained him for more than thirty years. This is where many of the soft techniques in Hapkido originated. Upon returning to Korea in the mid 1940's, Choi began to teach his art which he named YooSool rather than JuJutsu because at the time Koreans would react negatively to any connection to Japan in any way. It was believed that Choi continued to teach a pure Daito-Ryo Aiki-Jujutsu all his life. During those days, Ji Han Jae was one of Choi Young-Sool's top students.