By: Ian A. Cyrus
In undertaking the task of writing a historical perspective of Hapkido, I am fully aware of the fact that it is, in all likelihood, an exercise in futility. I say this because with the exception of a few (Choi Yong Sool and Myung Jae Nam and Bong Soo Han), the majority of the personalities who shaped the landscape of Hapkido are still alive. Yet, a single common and consistent version of the history of Hapkido does not exist. One would think that all of the key figures would come together and agree on one version to be promulgated for future generations of practitioners. Instead, they put forward a history based on ethnocentrism, national prejudice, and personal and political agendas all vastly different from the other. They are (were) Choi Yong Sool (Yawara/Dae Dong Ryu Hap Ki Yu Sool), Suh Bok Sup (Yawara/Dae Dong Ryu Hap Ki Yu Sool), Ji Han Jae (Modern Hapkido/Sin Moo Hapkido), Kim Moo Woong (Hapkido Shin Moo Kwan), Suh In Hyuk (Kuk Sool Won – Hapkido), Suh (Seo) In Sun (Kuk Sool Hapkido), Joo Bang Lee (Hwa Rang Do-Hapkido), Kim Jung Yoon (Han Pul) and Won Wha Kwang (Hapkido Moo Sul Kwan), Sea Oh Choi, Kwang Sik Myung and Bong Soo Han. While there are a small number of facts that have been consistent, there are an exponentially greater number of facts that are half truths, lies, and embellishments. Gone are the days when practitioners would simply just practice a martial art without questioning the validity of that art. It was enough just to be given the opportunity to be a part of the Asian mysticism. Our Asian counterparts knew this and capitalized on it. Practitioners are now more curious and discerning, asking questions that were never asked before. As a result, the inconsistencies, half-truths, and lies have become painfully obvious. Therefore, the need for a consistent account of the last sixty years of Korean martial art history is needed. I will not be able to accomplish that here. However, I can certainly begin the process or at least shed some light on this quagmire of varying and often conflicting historical facts. The construction of this history of Hapkido is based on currently available written sources, and on personal interviews conducted by me. I will interject personal commentary where I feel it’s warranted because it may help a discerning mind to separate the fact from fiction. In the end, it is up to each individual to decide what the truth is.
Regardless of its convoluted history and controversy, Hapkido has become one of the most popular martial arts of the 21st Century. This is due to both positive and negative circumstances. Because Hapkido, as some would think, is devoid of signature skills, what often arises are variations that are nothing more than a pastiching of poorly conceived skills. This combined with inflated ranks has led to the art having a less than desirable reputation in the world martial arts community. However, amidst the controversies, key individuals such as Ji Han Jae and others have managed to move the art forward so that it is a force to be reckoned with.
I will limit my discussion to Choi Yong sul, Ji Han Jae, Suh In Huyk, Suh (Seo) In Sun, Joo Bang Lee, Joo Sang Lee but, there were others such as Kin Moo Hyun (Woong), Kim Jong Yun and Woong Wha Kwon who whos contribution to the early development of Hapkido should not be minimized in any way. And therefore, deserves equal air time.
Choi Yong Sul (1904-1986), Father of Hapkido:
From what I can ascertain and what appears to be the most consistent fact is that the genesis of Hapkido is Choi Yong Sool. From all accounts Choi was born in Chung Bok province, South Korea. Supposedly and according to most accounts, Choi’s family was very poor and lived near a candy factory owned and operated by a Japanese couple, the Morimoto’s. Apparently, the couple took a liking to young Choi and since his parents could not afford to raise him, they allowed them to take him to Japan. Choi was around nine years old at that time. It would not have been a problem for the Morimoto’s to take Choi to Japan since after all, they were Japanese nationals and he was a subject. Another account states that Choi was kidnapped by Morimoto’s. At any rate, after arriving in Japan the couple left Choi at a Buddhist temple because they wanted to travel and did not wish to be hampered by him. Other accounts states that Choi was left at the temple in order to receive an education. This little detail does not make much sense. Why would the Japanese couple who supposedly took a liking to Choi take him Japan only to leave him at a Buddhist temple never to be seen again? That seems somewhat extreme. Choi was expelled from the temple because he was not interested in an education, lacked discipline, and was disruptive. It is difficult to imagine that the authorities of the temple would orphan a young Korean boy in a strange land. Other accounts states that the Morimoto’s abandoned Choi shortly after arriving in Moji, Japan because he was difficult to handle. Nevertheless, a monk at the temple, Kintaro Watanabi, gave Choi to his friend,
Sokaku Takeda (1859-1946)
Choi supposedly worked as a house boy and Dojo (Way Place) caretaker before being permitted to study Daito Ryu (Great Eastern School). This anecdote cannot possibly be accurate because Takeda never really owned a Dojo. Further, he spent very little time with his own family because he was too busy traveling around the country teaching and testing his skills. There were periods, usually no more than a one year at a time, when he was housed with his most famous student, Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), founder of Aikido and with his family. It is likely that Choi was an employee or manservant of Takeda given the socio-political circumstance of times but, certainly not his adopted son. Interviews of Tokimune Takeda (1916 – 1993), son of Takeda who inherited his legacy and Kisshomaru Ueshiba (1921 – 1991), son Ueshiba and second Doshu of Aikido conducted by Standly Pranin, Editor of the Aikido Journal yield virtually no corroboration of Choi’s claims. Neither of them remember him specifically. They both stated that they recall Takeda conducting seminars in which a Korean or small group of Koreans participated. There were units of the Sendai army, Sendai, Japan that were made up of Koreans. Choi is known to have conducted seminars for the Sendai army. Takeda was known to maintain meticulous records (Eimeiruku) of everyone he taught even at seminars. According to Stanly Pranin and others, a review of Takeda’s Eimeiruku yielded negative results. There weren’t a single entry of Choi ever having studied with him. Chong Bae Rim of Rim’s Hapkido asserts that some of Takeda’s records were burned in a fire and that to acknowledge him in his Eimeiruku would undermine the Japanese character of Daito Ryu. This assertion by Rim is contradictory given that there was at least one Korean that we know of listed in Takeda’s Eimeiruku. If Choi was a part of Takeda’s life to the extent that Choi purported, someone would have remembered him… Perhaps the biggest factor that refutes Choi’s claims is that Takeda was known as a staunch Japanese nationalist. Takeda had a preference for teaching government and high ranking military officials. Others had to be by formal introduction and recommendation as was the case of Ueshiba who was introduced to Takeda by Kotaro Yoshida (1883 – 1966). Yoshida was somewhat of a controversial figure during his time. He was a journalist and a member of the Black Dragon Society, a right wing political group. He was also considered an intellectual and very liberal in his views. I have found it curious that Choi’s Japanese name was Yoshida. Further, I have speculated that Yoshida was actually Choi’s teacher. In any case, Choi’s Japanese name was supposedly Yoshida Asao (Tatsujutsu/Tatujutu) and even this name is problematic from a Japanese cultural point of view. No one else but Kotaro Yoshida would have accepted a challenge such as this given his views. It was not uncommon for a practitioner like Choi to claim that his teacher was Takeda when it was in fact Yoshida provided they share the same lineage. Another case and point is Jang In Mok (1912 – ), the only Korean, thus far, to have a provable lineage to Daito Ryu. Jang’s teacher was Toshimi (Hosaku) Matsuda, a student of Takeda. Matsuda was known to have several Koreans under his tutelage. Apparently, Jang taught very little and focused more on his profession as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
In an interview Choi gave during his visit to the United States in June, 1982, he stated that Takeda committed suicide by starving himself to death in protest of Japan loosing the war. According to his son, Tokimune, Takeda died unexpectedly of a stroke while teaching in Aomori, Hokkaido in 1943. Choi asserted that Takeda died of a stroke secondary to malnutrition. This was before the war ended so Takeda would not have known of its outcome. Following Takeda death, Choi returned to South Korea sometime in 1945. Popular lore has it that he lost (or it was stolen) his luggage containing personal items and documents of his martial arts training while in Japan at a (Yong Sun) train station in his home town of Yong Dong. This incident may have actually occurred but again, it is unsubstantiated. When one considers the totality of the circumstances with respect to authenticity (or lack thereof) of Choi’s claims, this story is consistent. At any rate, after this incident Choi decided to settle in Daegu City. During a personal interview of Suh Bok Sup in April, 2004, he reiterated this story. Although, I had the feeling that he was repeating what was told to him and not responding from personal knowledge. Upon arriving in South Korea, Choi supported himself by selling rice cakes until he had accumulated enough money to purchase a few pigs.
Choi was illiterate and from everything I have learned from those who trained directly under him, rough around the edges so to speak. There is also a general perception and sentiment that he was driven by money. He charged exorbitant fees for instruction and demanded a lot from his students. Therefore, only a few were afforded the privilege of his time and energy. This was confirmed in the course of personal conversations with Ji Han Jae, Doju.
Choi made a historic visit to the United States in 1982 in an effort to bring together all of the Hapkido factions. Choi appointed Chin Il Chang as his successor and hoped that he would be able to fulfill his hope. However, Chang was not at all interested in such a responsibility and so Choi’s plan failed. Choi died in 1986 at the age of 82 and was buried in Taegu, South Korea.
Suh Bok Sup(1906 – Present), First Hapkido Dan Holder
Approximately three years after arriving in Daegu, South Korea, on February 21, 1948, Choi met his first Korean student, Suh Bok Sup. At the time of their meeting Suh was an attorney, a Judo 1st Dan, a student of Yong Ho Choi, and manager of a Makju (Korean wine) brewery owned by his father, Suh Dong Jin. On the day in question, Choi came to the brewery to secure chaff (grain) left over from the brewing process. When a group of people who there for the same purpose tried to take his place in line, a fight ensued. Choi was able to manage his attackers with relative ease. This incident was witnessed by Suh who was observing from the second floor office loft of the brewery. Suh hurried down to intercept Choi before he left because he was impressed by the unusual martial arts skill displayed by him. Suh brought Choi back to his office at the brewery where he had Judo Tatami’s (mats) arranged for practice. When Suh inquired about what kind of martial art Choi was doing, he invited him to attack him. When he did, he was deftly defeated. In return for instruction, Suh provided Choi with free chaff and payment for his lessons. Suh first lesson was supposedly the next day. Suh became the first Korean to achieve dan ranking in what Choi was calling Yawara which can be roughly translated as wrestling. What Choi taught went through several name changes such as Dae Dong Ryu Hapki Yu Kwon Sool, Yu Kwon Sool, Yu Sool, and eventually, Hapkido. The name Dae Dong Ryu Hapki Yu Sool is a transliteration of Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu (Great Eastern School/Style of Harmonious Energy Soft Skills). This was what Choi supposedly learned from his mentor, Takeda. On February 12, 1951, three years after their initial meeting, Suh now a 1st Dan and Choi opened their first public school naming it Dae Han Yu Kwon Sool Hapki Dojang (Korean Soft Fist Style Coordinating Energy School). Suh’s influence on the development of Hapkido can be seen in the wide variety of clothing seizures and defenses against throws. Some of Choi’s early and most influential students includes, Ji Han Jae (began in 1949), Mu Hyun (Woong) Kim, Joo Bang Lee, Joo Sang Lee, Suh, In Hyuk, Seo, Kim Jong Yong, Won Wha Kwang and others. There are other anecdotal events that took place involving Suh but, in my opinion, they are not historically relevant.
In a personal interview with Suh during a trip sponsored by Grandmaster Suh (Seo) In Sun, World Kido Federation, in April 2000, he stated that the name “Hapkido” was first used by he and Choi in 1958. When questioned about the validity of Ji Han Jae’s claim that he was the first to use the name, he simply stated that that is how he remembered it. Much of my conversations with Suh Bok Sup was about Oriental Medicine and Chiropractic. He seemed more interested in these two subjects than he was about the early history of Hapkido. Nevertheless, I found Suh Bok Sup to be engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with him.
Ji Han Jae (1936 - ), Founder of Modern Hapkido
Ji Han Jae was born in Andong Province, South Korea. He began training under Choi in 1949 at age 13 in Seoul, South Korea. Ji studied continuously (for 7 years) with Choi until 1956 and was one his most talented students. Ji also supposedly trained with a Taoist master named Lee from whom he studied Taek Kyun, long and short staff and meditation practices. He concurrently trained with a Buddhist nun who he refers to as “Grandma” from whom he learned meditation and other spiritual development practices. The actual existence of Taoist Lee and “Grandma” as of this writing has not been independently verified. In private conversations Ji, he spoke of also studying Sam Nang Do (Supposedly a group similar to the Hwa Rang of Silla). He would talk of the fact that he was the first to use the name Hapkido to represent his version of what Choi taught and what he had learned from other sources. Further, he has also been emphatic about being the one to add kicking, the Dan Bong (Short Stick), Jang Bong (Long Staff), Ji Pang Ee Sool (Walking Cane Skills) and Po Bak Sool (Rope Skills) to the Hapkido Curriculum. He made specific reference to the spin kick which in his view, should only be executed with the right leg (foot) with the contra-lateral palm touching the floor. Not once has he
ever mentioned Kim Moo Hyun (Woong), a fellow student of Choi and good friend of Ji’s, who most believe to be the true innovator of kicking in Hapkido. Hyun (Woong) apparently studied Taek Kyun extensively. Most likely this was due to the fact that Hyun (Woong) spent approximately nine months at Ji’s dojang (Song Mu Kwan) in Seoul.
Ji, at the rank of 3rd Dan, opened his first school, the An Moo Kwan, in home town, Andong in 1957 at which he taught Yu Kwon Sool. Nine months later, he relocated to Seoul where he founded the Song Mu Kwan. Apparently Ji began organize all he had learned into a rational curriculum and first called it Hapki Yu Kwon Sool. However, in retrospect, he thought the name was too long. In 1959, he changed the name to Hapkido. This curriculum devised by Ji is, for the most part, the same one with variations promulgated by most Hapkido schools and organizations. There is controversy as to who coined and adopted the use of the name, Hapkido. Some say it was Choi while others say it was Ji. Regardless of who it was, Ji is credited with being the founder of modern Hapkido. Ji and his students almost single-handedly spread the art worldwide. Ji and his Hapkido Song Mu Kwan rose to prominence in the Korean Martial Arts community. Ji was able to secure a teaching position instructing the military supreme council and as instructor to the President’s (Park Jung Hee) security forces. He held this position until Park’s death in 1979.
In 1963, Ji, along with his teacher Choi Yong Sul, and classmates, Suh Bok Sup, Joo Bang Lee, Joo Sang Lee Woo Tak Kim, Jong Yun Kim, Kwang Hwa Won and possibly Suh In Hyuk and Suh (Seo) held a meeting at Jong Yun Kim’s (Han Pul) dojang and decided to adopt the name “Kido” to represent what was previously called Hapkido, Yu Sool, Yu Kwon Sool, Hapki Yu Sool, and Dae Dong Ryu Hapki Yu Sool. Their rationale for this change was that the name “Hapkido” was too similar to the martial art founded by Moreihi Ueshiba and therefore, chose a name (Kido) to distinguish it. They formed the Han Kuk Kido Hae to serve as the public face of this newly formed alliance. On September 2, 19963, Han Kuk Kido Hae received a charter from the Korean Ministry of Education. This charter granted Han Kuk Kido Hae the authority to regulate standards and promotion requirements for Hapkido and thirty-one other martial art styles that were not subsumed under the Taekwondo movement. Lee Kyu Jin (Kim Kyung Dong) was elected as it’s president and Kim Jong Yun was appointed as secretary general. Lee served for two terms and was replaced by Kim Kyung Dong who served for several terms. On January 26, 1978, at the eighth election, Choi Byung Rin was elected presient. On April 5, 1981, at the ninth election, Pyo Si Chan was elected president. On June 1, 1983 at the tenth election, Suh (Seo) In Hyuk was elected president. Suh (Seo) was the first martial arts master to be elected as president, all previous elected presidents were “politicians”.
In 1965, Ji and his group of masters (Song Mu Kwan) did not agree with the direction the Han Kuk Kido Hae was taking and withdrew. He formed the Dae Han Hapkido Hae (Korea Hapkido Association). This association was formed with the blessing of the then South Korean President, Park Jung Hee. In 1973, Ji resigned from the Dae Han Hapkido Hae along with Kim Moo Hyun (Woong) and Myung Jae Nam and formed the Dae Han Hapkido Hyub Hae (The Republic of Korea Hapkido Federation). Ji was the first to leave the federation followed by Myung Jae Nam who eventually left this organization. When Ji left the KHF he reclaimed use of the name, The Korea Hapkido Association. (KHA) The remaining members of the original KHF had also adopted use of the name, KHA so there was conflict. In 1988 a new organization, the Korea Hapkido Federation (KHF) emerged out of this tumultuous time. A student of Ji, Oh Se Lim was elected as president. Lim has remained president since its inception. The KHF is the largest governing body for Hapkido in the world.
On May 27, 1968 Ji at age 32, 11 years after his promotion to 3rd dan, along with Joo Bang Lee, was promoted to the 8th dan by Choi Yong Sul. I mention this to make a very obvious point. I hope the reader have some clue where I am going with this…
Ji, due to his political connections was appointed as Chief Hapkido instructor for the President’s Security forces and had become influential. His influence allowed him to operate his own Hapkido organization (Korea Hapkido Association) without interference. Ji’s influence came to an end when President Park Jung Hee regime came to an end in 1984 when he was assassinated. Ji spent one year in jail as a political prisoner due to his association with President Park’s assassin, Kim Chae Kyu. Kim was the head of the South Korean CIA and a student of Ji. During his time in jail, Ji formulated the concepts and principles which were to become Sin Moo Hapkido. Sin Moo Hapkido focuses more on spiritual development and quality of life practices. In 1984, he migrated to Germany and then to United States where he founded Sin Moo Hapkido (Higher Mind Martial Art Way of Harmonizing Energy). Ji currently heads the loosely organized World Sin Moo Hapkido Association (WSMHA). Membership in the WSMHA is by dan holdership. Other than dan certification fees and fees generated from workshops and seminars there is no other stream of income to maintain association activities. This is mostly due to Ji’s reluctance have a more formal organizational structure.
Ji had a huge influence in martial arts movie industry. He appeared as a lead in the movie Hapkido aka, Lady Kung Fu with Angela Mao Ying, Cater Wong, Samo Hung, and Hwang In Shik. These individuals were also his students. He appeared in the Game of Death with Bruce Lee.
Ji had number of students who themselves had a tremendous impact on the spread of Hapkido worldwide. They include Kwang Sik Myung, current president of the World Hapkido Federation, the late Bong Soo Han, president of the International Hapkido Federation, Oh Se Lim, current president of the Korea Hapkido Federation, the late Myung Jae Nam, president of the International Hapkido Federation , and Sea Oh Choi (status unknown), who formally introduced Hapkido to the United States. Most of the current senior practitioners of Hapkido are former students of Ji. However, many of them do not acknowledge him as their teacher because they feel that he was in some way responsible for President Park’s assassination and therefore, claim Choi as their teacher or completely fabricate their Hapkido histories.
In my opinion Ji should be considered the “founder” of Hapkido as we know it today. Choi on the other hand should be considered the “father” of Hapkido. Ji transformed what he learned from Choi. He (with Kim Moo Hyun (Woong) added the extensive kicking arsenal, striking, and a variety of weapons (short stick, long staff, cane, rope etc,). Ji also organized Hapkido skills into a comprehensive curriculum which is observed by eighty percent of Hapkido practitioners worldwide with variations. Seventy to eighty percent of the main schools of Hapkido can be traced back to Ji. Choi actually directly taught very few people because he charged very high tuition fees and the training was severe. As of this writing, I have spent numerous hours with Doju Ji. Some of this time is spent helping him handle personal business and others were spent in deep discussion about the true nature of Hapkido. He feels that the physical and technical aspect of Hapkido represents only twenty percent of the art. The remaining eighty percent is on spiritual and mental development and on productive lifestyle practices.
Suh In Hyuk, Suh (Seo) In Sun and Kuk Sool Won- Hapkido:
Suh In Hyuk and Suh (Seo) In Sun was front and center during the formative years of Hapkido. Both were students of Choi Yong Sul. Seo In Sun was granted the 1st dan in 1958. It is unknown at this time exactly Suh In Hyuk was granted dan status but it is safe to assume that it was at the same time Seo In Sun. I have had a personal relationship with Seo In Sun for fifteen years and he has always been forthcoming with the fact that Choi Yong Sul was his teacher. His older brother, Suh In Sun who I also had a very close relationship with during 1980s, was not as forthcoming. He does not acknowledge being a student of Choi. Further, he does not acknowledge monks Tae Eiu Wang and Dong Hae as his teachers. Instead he promulgates a martial arts history that talks about him beginning training under his Grandfather, Suh, Myung Duk, Royal Court Martial Arts instructor. I don’t see how this would have been possible because according to his brother, According Seo In Sun, Suh Myung Duk died when Suh In Hyuk was around six years old. Seo In Sun intimated to me that he personally never saw any training going between Suh Myung Duk and Suh In Hyuk.
It is common knowledge that the Suh brothers also studied Southern Praying Mantis and what is referred to as Ship Pal Gi (18 Weapon skill). Both of these disciplines are Chinese influenced. They studied under monks Tae Eui Wang and Dong Hae. In my opinion, the Suh brothers took what they learned from Choi, Ji Han Jae and others and combined it with their Chinese influenced arts to create what was known as Kuk Sool Hapkido. Suh In Hyuk claim to have founded Kuk Sool Won in 1958. That would make him twenty years old at that time. Regardless, it is well known that Suh In Hyuk had relationship with Choi Yong Sul, Ji Han Jae, Moo Hyun (Woong) Kim, Joo Bang Lee. Moreover, the skills that comprise the Kuk Sool Won curriculum are identical to the ones shared by Hapkido practitioners worldwide. Enough said.
Suh (Seo) In Sun is currently diligently working to create an environment of cooperation with all of the major Hapkido organizations and to correct the fractured history of Hapkido.
Joo Bang Lee, Joo Sang Lee and Hwa Rang Do (Hapkido):
Joo Bang Lee (1936 – ) and his brother, Joo Sang Lee (1937 – ) were both early students of Choi Yong Sul. They were also known to have studied with Kim Moo Hyun (Woong), Suh In Hyuk, and Ji Han Jae. Joo Bang Lee maintains that he was trained from age 4 by Suam Dosa, the 57th lineage holder of the Hwa Rang tradition. Joo Bang Lee further maintains that the aforementioned individuals were not his teachers in any capacity but were colleagues with whom he collaborated. None of this is plausible for many reasons. Not the least of which that Suam Dosa could not have represented the ancient Hwa Rang. Any evidence, not withstanding historical references and artifacts are scarce and practically nonexistent, much less, an intact martial discipline. Joo Bang Lee founded the Hwarang Kwan, a school of Hapkido in 1962. This Kwan later became “Hwa Rang Do” in 1972 shortly after his arrival in the United States. The Kuk Sool Won (Hapkido) and the Hwa Rang Do (Hapkido) curriculum bare a striking resemblance. So it’s either Suh In Hyuk studied under Joo Bang Lee or vice versa. Regardless, it is obvious that they both share similar training experience. I was told directly by Suh In Hyuk during one of his visits to my school in the mid-eighties that Joo Bang Lee was his student. Regarding who was the first to use the name “Hapkido” Joo Bang Lee stated on the World Hwarando Association official website that. “originally, in 1959, one of his friends, Master Moon Kang opened a school in Taegu with the name Hapkido for the first time. However, six months later, master Choi ordered that the school be closed down because he did not want the “Yu Sool” name to be switched to the Hpakido name. Master Kang then moved the school to Seoul to work for the DEA and Dr. Lee got the idea of this new martial name from master Kang. Also, in 1961, Yu Sool masters Han –Jae Ji and Mu (Woong) Kim began using this Hapkido name as well. Because of the circumstances surrounding the Japanese Occupuation, the Korean Public Hated to use Japanese language during this time. So master Choi’s first masters did not want to use the “Yawara (Yu Sool)” name for their dojangs.” According to Bob Duggan an early student of Joo Sang Lee and then Joo Bang Lee, Joo Bang Lee once intimated to him that he did study hand (striking) skills from Suh In Hyuk for a short time (see Bob Duggan’s website at www. hwarangdo.org). I encourage readers to visit Duggan’s website. He gives a first-hand personal account of his experiences with Joo Sang Lee, Joo Bang Lee and what eventually became Hwa Rang Do.
On a personal note, I am perplexed as to why talented masters like Suh In Hyuk and Joo Bang Lee who obviously contributed to so much to the development of Korean Martial Arts, Hapkido specifically, deny their teacher(s) and fabricate a history that is obviously suspect.
My Personal Experience with Hapkido:
My martial training began in July 1970 under the tutelage of Prof. Don A. Jacob, founder , Don Jitsu Ryu at the Purple Dragon Karate – Jit Jitsu School, 14A Westbury Lane, Belmont, Trinidad, W.I. I migrated to Philadelphia, PA in January 1973 and began training in Taekwondo under Master Jong Sae Lee. I became an active duty Marine in October 1974. At that time I held a 1st Dan, Jiu Jitsu and 2nd dan Taekwondo.
My personal experience with Hapkido began when I was stationed on Okinawa, Japan as a U.S. Marine. I began studying Hapkido in 1976 under Sgt Johnny Pak, a U.S. Marine of Korean descent. I studied with Sgt. Pak for one year then I was transferred to Pusan, South Korea in 1977 and continued studying under Major Chung Soo Ko, a Korean Marine and student of Ji Han Jae. I studied with Major Ko for one and one half years. I returned back to the U.S. in July 1979 and was discharged in October 1979. I had earned 2nd dan in that time. My certificate was from the Korea Hapkido Association and bore Ji Han Jae signature. In 1981, I began building a Taekwondo program at the Abington YMCA, Abington, PA and then in my own school, The Abington Taekwondo Academy, 1907 Susquehanna Road, Abington, PA. In 1984 I decided to introduce Hapkido as a separate curriculum in my school. I joined the World Kuk Sool Association (WKSA) and began training under Ma, Byung Sup of Chicago, Ill. I chose the WKSA because during my tour of duty in South Korea what is now know as Kuk Sool Won was then known as school of Hapkido. My training under Ma Byung Sup was short lived due to ethical issues and began training under Byun Won Jung, 8th dan of Glen Cove, NY a senior ranking Kuk Sool Master. I continued to train under Master Byun until I resigned from the WKSA due to internal politics. In 1990, I joined the Korean Hapkido Federation led by Sang Foon (Kook) Kim and James Garrison of Portland, Oregan. I held the rank of 6th Dan at that time. I resigned from the WHF again to due internal politics in 1992. Also in 1992, I joined the World Kido Federation (WKF) – Korea Kido Hae led by Suh (Seo) In Sun, 10th dan and Chairman. GM Seo has since resigned from the Korea Kido Hae and formed the Han Min Jook Hapkido Association (HMJHA). I remain with the WKF and HMJHA to the present. In 2000 I began a relationship with Doju Ji Han Jae, Founder of modern Hapkido and Sin Moo Hapkido and leader of the World Sin Moo Hapkido Association. I have been training under him as well since . In 1989 I formalized my own Hapkido curriculum and named it Hapkido Yu Shin Kwan (Willow Tree/Spirit School of Hapkido). I continue to fine-tune and proliferate this school of Hapkido. The curriculum of the Yu Shin Kwan departs from mainstream Hapkido in that it does not boast in excess of 3,000 skills (techniques). I have identified fifteen skills that are studied in-depth with every possible variation based on circumstance. Emphasis is placed on the sword’s relationship to Hapkido skills and the skills of breaking an opponent’s balance at the instant contact is made. It is concept and principle rather than content oriented.
The history of Hapkido presented is by no means definitive. It is a work in progress. Therefore it will be updated as more information becomes available.