Yu Shin Hapkido

Willow Spirit Way of Coordinating Energy

Hapkido Yu Shin Kwan was founded by Ian A. Cyrus in 1989 after 20 years of studying and teaching various forms of Yu Sool (Soft/pliable Arts) such as Don Jitsu Ryu Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Hapkido, Kuk Sool (Hapkido), Yamate Ryu Aiki Jutsu, Itto Tenshin Ryu Kenjitsu, Chen Tai Ji Chuan, and Yin Fu Ba Gua Zhang. He spent the past 13 years organizing this school’s curriculum. The Hapkido taught and studied at the Yu Shin Kwan is not a style as most interpret it, but Hapikdo as taught by the Yu Shin Kwan’s founder. Cyrus, Kwan Jang currently holds the rank of 8th Dan in Hapkido.

The Prefix “Yu Shin” embodies the likeness and attributes of the Willow Tree. The two most relevant attributes are “Yu (flexibility/fluidity)” and “root/ stability”. The principle of “Yu” is central to the study and practice of Hapkido.

The literal translation of Shin is “Heart/Mind”. “Shin” is used in this context to capture the qualities, image and likeness of the Willow tree. However, Asian philosophy and medicine espouses that the “Heart” generates the mind/spirit which in turn generates matter (the body), the “Heart”, “Spirit”, “Mind” and “Body” are inextricably tied to each other and therefore, one and the same. It is difficult or impossible to determine where one aspect end and the other begin.

Hapkido Yu Shin Kwan is represented by a Willow Tree (Soo Yang Bo Dul). Bo Dul refers to the Willow tree as a general type of tree, while Soo Yang refers to a type of Willow tree that grows primarily near water and draws its name from the Soo Yang mountains of China. The Willow tree stands firm and rooted while being able to withstand a gale force wind. It is flexible yet resilient. When resistance is applied to its branches, it will yield until the force is absorbed and/or redirected then snap back with great force. The philosophy, concepts, principles, and skills taught and studied at the Yu Shin Kwan are embodied in this image and likeness. A sample of the principles and concepts follows:

  • Flexibility of mind and body
  • Seek the path of least resistance
  • Yielding
  • Fluidity
  • Root/Stability
  • Leverage
  • Push – Pull
  • S.A.I.D
  • Pendulum/Balance Wheel Principle
  • Sequential Rotation
  • Triangulation
  • Decreasing Radius
  • Triangulation
  • Position of Advantage

The Yu Shin Hapkido experience is based of three main aspects:

  1. Spirit: Gi Gong, Meditation
  2. Mind: Concepts, Principles, Philosophy
  3. Body: Physical skills of Hapkido

The medical (Shin Shim Bup [Mind-Body Method]) aspect of Yu Shin Hapkido bridges its three main aspects.

The physical aspects of Hapkido consist of the following skills:

  • Thrusting
  • Striking
  • Blocking
  • Kicking
  • Bodyshifting, evasion, and dodging
  • Immobilizing/Throwing
  • Pinning

The IKMAF accepts all Hapkido practitioners of Hapkido regardless of style to share the breath and depth of this phenomenal martial art.

Recently, Hapkido has been experiencing immense popularity. With this popularity comes change and evolution. Some good and some bad. As I travel in and out of the country, I have encountered individuals who truly embody the true spirit of Hapkido and those that clearly don’t. The former is the exception and the later the rule. What I often see are a pastiche of poor skills that are devoid of the principles, concepts, and the flavor that makes Hapkido distinct from any other martial art. This in all likelihood due to the misguided perception that Hapkido is not clearly defined with identifiable signature skills. It is no secret that the history of Hapkido is clouded in national prejudice, half truths, lies, and unsubstantiated claims which contributes to the questionable status of the art.

I have had the distinct honor and pleasure of having a face to face conversation with the very first student of the progenitor of Hapkido, Choi Yong Sul, Suh Bok Sup during my last visit to South Korea. He told me that no one ever questioned Choi’s ability. It was never an issue until now and he left it at that. The fact is, Choi was the genesis of what we now know today as Hapkido. On a personal note, Grand Master Suh was more interested in my skill and ability as a doctor of Oriental Medicine than he was in my Hapkido skills. In his words, “healing is more important”. Having Trained (and still training) under such Hapkido notables, Master Jung Won Byun, Grandmaster Seo, In Sun, and Doju Han Jae Ji, I can say without a doubt that Hapkido is much more than joint manipulation, throwing, and percussion. It definitely has a feel, a flavor if you will, that is unique unto itself. One can only know this if you have had the benefit of competent instruction. It takes time to infuse that “flavor” into your being. So, when you do Hapkido it looks and feels right.

Although Hapkido Yu Shin Kwan and Yu Shin Hapkido may be used interchangeably it IS NOT a style (as most would interpret style) but, a school of Hapkido under the umbrella of the International Korean Martial Arts Federation (IKMAF). Although, there are concepts, principles, and skills that are unique to this school. The Yu Shin Kwan will promulgate a curriculum that is reflective of the true spirit of Hapkido. The symbol and spirit of the “Willow Tree” was Chosen because it, in my opinion, embodies the concepts, principles, and practice of Hapkido.

The Uniqueness of Hapkido As Taught at Yu Shin Kwan:


Hapkido as taught at the Yu Shin Kwan is unique in that the representative skills and methods of are given actual names that best describes them, as opposed to the current system of learning skills/methods by number. This reduces the need for rote memorization of skills which leads to negative transfer. Hapkido practitioners often take pride in knowing 1500 to 2000 skills/methods when in reality there only about fifteen (15) skills/methods with possible variations. While rote memorization of 2000 skills/methods may be an impressive mental feat, it has little to do with being able to respond reflectively and intuitively in the face of an attack. The skills/methods are directed at embodying the concepts and principles (e.g. Yu [Flow/Pliability]), Won [Circularity], Wha [Harmony]) of Hapkido. When the concepts and principles in and of themselves are applied to movement, skills without boundaries or nomenclature are created. That, in my opinion, is the epitome of martial arts. The following is a brief list of some of the aforementioned representative skills:

Wrist Turn Out Immobilization/Throw

  • Elbow Pressure (Arm Bar) Immobilization
  • Wrist Spin Immobilization
  • Wrist Turn In Immobilization/Throw
  • Wrist Pressure Immobilization
  • Four-Corner Immobilization/Throw
  • Heaven and Earth Throw
  • Rear Drop
  • Three Level Throw
  • Entering Throw
  • Leg Reaping Throw
  • Hip Throw
  • Shoulder Throw
  • Floating Drop

The IKMAF’s Hapkido program is supported by the Korea Kido Hae, the World Kido Federation (WKF) and Han Min Jok Hapkido Hae. The ICF is also affiliated with the World Sin Moo Hapkido Association led by Ji Han Jae, Doju, an acknowledged founder of Hapkido as it is practiced today. This establishes a direct lineage to the source of Hapkido. Therefore, our Hapkido Program offers internationally recognized and legitimate and gup, dan and instructor certifications. This is due to top notch affiliations and the impeccable reputation of its founder, Grandmaster Ian A. Cyrus. The IKMAF is a non-political entity. We do not impose unreasonable mandates on our members and affiliates. We exist to provide support in quality martial arts instruction and business guidance to those who require it. We invite you to share and grow with us.

The foundation concepts, principles, and skills of Hapkido Yu Shin Kwan are available in written form and on DVD. Please feel free to contact me for further information on Yu Shin Kwan.