Hapkido history

As told by grand Master Kimm

In a broad way, all martial arts, including Hapkido originated from Sun Do, the ancient Korean Philosophical Art

Sun Do was a popular movement some 6000 years ago. Through diligent practice, the original Sun Do people developed a very special and advanced understanding of meditation and the nature and the function of bio energy and Universal Energy. As they were training, they discovered that the Universal energy they were experiencing caused natural movements that could be used practically! Thus began the evolution of Martial art including Hapkido. Literally translated, Hapkido means way of harmonising energy.

Owing to Korea’s important Geo-political position in the ancient world, a long period of political turmoil, invasions and wars meant that the practice of Sun Do all but disappeared from the general population. However it was preserved by individual Masters and Buddhist monks who developed secret self defence techniques that they taught to members of the royal family, royal courts and upper classes only. The evolution of Hapkido as a martial art continued.

Martial Arts in the Three Kingdoms Era

The most complete recorded history of the evolution of Hapkido dates back to the Three Kingdoms Era (3AD) referring to the nations of Ko-Ku-Ryo, Baek-Jae, and Shilla.

In the Kingdom of Shilla an organisation referred to as ‘Hwa-Rang-Do’ emerged to train the young men of noble birth. The ‘Hwa- Rang-Do’ trainees endured rigorous physical training, combined with mental discipline, martial arts, traditional scholarship (including art, music, poetry )and Sun Do training.

In the Ko-Ku-Ryo Kingdom, the royals and those with patriotic ideals became students of Jo-Eu-Sun In, which had a similarly extensive curriculum. This training took place at Eun-Mil-Dae in Pyung Yang, North Corea.

In the Kingdom of Baek-Jae, the elite learnt Kung-Joong-Mu-Sool, which translates as Royal Palace martial art. The presence of Sun Do training in all three eras, reminds us of the intimate connection between Hapkido and Sun Do.

The martial arts (including Hapkido ) flourished in the period following the unification of the three kingdoms by Shilla. When the Shilla Kingdom finally collapsed, a powerful new nation called Coryo was born. This is the origin of modern day Corea’s (Korea’s) name

Eventually the Coryo Dynasty gave way to the Li Dynasty. Gradually, under the influence of Confucianism, patriotic thinking and expression of patriotic ideas were quashed and with that shift in culture, the practice of martial art in Corea diminished.

Around the middle of the Li Dynasty, King Jung-Jo made what proved to be a crucial decision for the survival of martial arts when he ordered Duk-Moo-Ye to write a book of martial art techniques. This book was known as ‘Moo-Ye-Do-Bo-Tong-Ji’ and thankfully it captured and preserved the oral teaching of countless years of ancient Corean martial art Masters; many of the written teachings had been destroyed through numerous invasions of the Corean peninsular.

The ‘Moo-Ye-Do-Bo-Tong-Ji’ stands today as an important historical document that recognizes and validates martial art history and provides the base on which martial arts have continued to develop.

Martial art suffered another blow when Japan invaded Corea in 1910 and banned the practise of martial arts. Fortunately a number of dedicated and brave Masters including many Monks, managed to keep the art alive in secret.

Hap Ki Do Post World War II

After the second World War, Grand Master Yong-Sool Choi (1904-1986) began teaching Hapkido to a small number of people in Tae-Ku city in Corea. These people popularised Hapkido techniques during the Corean War (1950-1953). Hapkido has spread rapidly since this time, at a rate unprecedented in its history. This is especially true in Corea, where all government organisations, military academies, police academies and special military units have Hapkido instructors; even small towns have Hapkido schools.

I have given you just a brief review of a very interesting and amazing history. When martial artists can understand and appreciate their origins and the reasons for learning martial arts, they can learn about peace and genuine humility.

— Grand Master Hur Nan Kimm Yong-Sup