This article is from the Martial Arts FAQ, by Matthew Weigel firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
(Contributors: Randy Pals - email@example.com,
Ray Terry - firstname.lastname@example.org,
Dakin Burdick - email@example.com)
This Korean art is sometimes confused with Aikido, since the Korean
and Japanese translation of the names is the same.
Hapkido history is the subject of some controversy.
Some sources say that the founder of Hapkido, Choi, Yong Sul was a
houseboy/servant (some even say "the adopted son") of Japanese Daito
Ryu Aikijujutsu GrandMaster Takeda, Sokaku. In Japan, Choi used the
Japanese name Yoshida, Tatsujutsu since all immigrants to Japan took
Japanese names at that time. Choi's Japanese name has also been given
as Asao, Yoshida by some sources. According to this view, Choi
studied under Takeda in Japan from 1913, when he was aged 9, until
Takeda died in 1943. However, Daito Ryu records do not reflect this,
so hard confirmation has not been available. Some claim that Choi's
Daito Ryu training was limited to attending seminars.
Ueshiba, Morihei, the founder of Aikido, was also a student of Takeda
(this is not disputed). Hapkido and Aikido both have significant
similarities to Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, so it would seem that Hapkido's
link to it is real, regardless of how and where Choi was trained.
Choi returned to Korea after Takeda's death and began studying Korean
arts and teaching Yu Sool or Yawara (other names for jujutsu),
eventually calling his kwan ("school") the Hapki Kwan. Ji, Han Jae,
began studying under Choi and eventually started his own school, where
he taught what he called Hapkido, after the grandmaster's school.
Along the way, Hapkido adopted various techniques from Tang Soo Do,
Tae Kyon, and other Korean kwans (schools).
Korean sources may 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.
Ji now calls his system Sin Moo Hapkido. He currently lives and
teaches in California, as does another former Choi student, Myung,
Kwang Sik, who is GrandMaster of the World Hapkido Federation.
Some other Choi Hapkido students are still living. Chang, Chun Il
currently teaches in New York City, and Im, Hyon Soo lives and teaches
in Korea. Both of these men were promoted to 9th dan by Choi. One of
the first Hapkido masters to bring the art to the western culture was
Han, Bong Soo.
In the 1970's and 80's Hapkido was taught as the style of choice to
elite South Korean armed forces units.
Hapkido combines joint locks, pressure points, throws, kicks, and
strikes for practical self-defense. More soft than hard and more
internal than external, but elements of each are included. Emphasizes
circular motion, non-resistive movements, and control of the opponent.
Although Hapkido contains both outfighting and infighting techniques,
the goal in most situations is to get inside for a close-in strike,
lock, or throw. When striking, deriving power from hip rotation is
Varies with organization and instructor. As a general rule, beginners
concentrate on basic strikes and kicks, along with a few joint locks
and throws. Some of the striking and kicking practice is form-like,
that is, with no partner, however, most is done with a partner who is
holding heavy pads that the student strikes and kicks full power.
Advanced students add a few more strikes and kicks as well as many
more throws, locks, and pressure points. There is also some weapons
training for advanced students - primarily belt, kubatan, cane, and
Some schools do forms, some do not. Some do sparring and some do not,
although at the advanced levels, most schools do at least some
sparring. Many Hapkido techniques are unsuitable for use in sparring,
as their use would result in injury, even when protective gear is
used. Thus, sparring typically uses only a limited subset of
There is generally an emphasis on physical conditioning and excercise,
including "ki" exercises.