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History of Hapkido

The history shown below is as passed on to us by our original teacher - Master Instructor Mike Forster (7th Dan Korean Hapkido Federation). There are many different writings on the history of Hapkido, we advise you do your own research.

The roots of the martial arts go back into areas of unrecorded history and the secrecy surrounding them make the exact tracing of their development almost impossible. The most popular of the modern martial arts have histories that can be traced back only a few hundred years before the myths begin to outnumber the facts.

There were two major systems that influenced the development of Hapkido. The first began with the T’ang dynasty in China. The techniques developed at this time quickly spread throughout Asia and were incorporated into the various fighting systems currently in use. By 337 A.D. these techniques had developed into a system in Korea known as T’ang hand.

These techniques evolved into a system known as Tae Kyun which developed during and after the Silla Dynasty in Korea 670-935 A.D. These techniques were taught exclusively to royalty and the nobility of the country and an organisation was formed known as Hwarangdo which comprised of these members of the martial class.

Modern day Hapkido was derived from the techniques taught to the Hwarangdo and until recently was a jealously guarded secret.

The second system influencing the development of Hapkido was from Japan, the Daito-ryu-aiki-ju-jitsu system which is said to have originated with Prince Tei Jun 850-880 A.D. During this period there were more than 750 recognised schools of Ju-jitsu all teaching various combat methods of fighting using kicks, punches, arm locks, etc. Again this style was jealously guarded and handed down from generation to generation through the founders family, in this case the Minamoto family.

Eventually it was handed down to the Takeda family and it was Dr Sogaku Takeda who taught the system to the founder of modern day Hapkido,
Yong Sool Choi. When the Japanese invaded Korea in 1910 all martial arts were prohibited.

Many of the practitioners studied in secrecy while Choi went to Japan to live and to continue his studies of the arts. In 1950 Choi went back to Korea and with his student Ji Han Jae, opened up a school in an old garage in Seoul.

Ji was an exponent of the Korean martial arts which were basically offensive but when the techniques were combined with the basically defensive style of aiki-ju-jitsu a very complete and effective self defence system was formulated.

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