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Hap Ki Do is a traditional Korean martial art. It is a dynamic method of self defense. It is not used for sport. Hap Ki Do is based on the Japanese art, Daito-Ryu AkiJujitsu. It is referred to as a soft system, in that a hard attack is met with a soft response. The opponentís own force is used against him first to control, and then subdue if necessary. The system is made up of beautiful flowing movements and circular motions. Hap Ki Do is practiced in close to the opponent, and is a perfect compliment to Tae Kwon Do. The system consists of blocks, strikes, breaks, locks, kicks, throws, and defensive weapons. It also includes sword forms and Kumdo (similar to fencing). Since H.K.D. requires a higher degree of skill development than T.K.D. it is offered to adults (16 and older) only. H.K.D. is a non-aggressive self defense system that does not require a great deal of strength. It can be practiced well into the senior years, and is perfect for men, women and people of slight build. It is one of the fastest growing martial art in the world today.
The history of HapKiDo is one that is full of controversy, and debate. It is said that HapKiDo can be traced back as far as the 7th century. There is not a detailed record of HapKiDoís development through the years, due to a shroud of secrecy, and the occupation of Korea by foreign armies.
A modern version, and one that is shared with the most prominent HapKiDo masters in the world, start with the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1910. At the time all Korean Martial arts where outlawed. The Japanese did allow the study of Japanese Judo and Kendo. Korean martial arts where only studied in secrecy in remote mountain monasteries.
Early in the Japanese occupation, a young boy about eight or nine, born in Chung Buk province in South Korea was taken to Japan by a candymaker. This boy was Yong Sool, Choi (1904-1986). He was a troubled youth, being in a country where he did not fit in, trouble always followed him. A Japanese man took notice of Choi and tried to help him. He adopted a Japanese name Tatujutu, Yoshida. He was said to be adopted by a named Sokaku Takeda. Takeda was a very famous and feared martial artist in Japan. The martial art was Daito-Ryu Aiki Jutsu, and Choi studied with his adopted father for almost 30 years. After the death of his father, and the end of the Japanese occupation in Korea, Choi decided to return home. In the winter of 1945, Choi returned to Korea. It was during this trip that Choi lost a piece of his luggage, which unfortunately contained money, and his certification of studying with the great Takeda Sensie. Lacking money he stayed in Dague, where he worked selling bread on the street. When he saved enough money, he began to raise pigs. In order to feed the pigs, he would travel to Suh Brewery, to obtain free leftover grain chaff. One day a fight erupted about placement in the grain line, the president of the brewery witnessed the fight, and seen a man performing phenomenal feats. The president sent his office clerk to retrieve this man. Choi was brought to his office, where Suh questioned him about his training. Without answering him, Choi asked Suh a black belt in Yudo to attack him. After two failed attempts, Suh begged Choi to teach him the art. Suh agreed to provide him with all free grain and pay for his classes, if he would only teach him the art. Suh prepared a room in the brewery for the training. Suh became Choiís first student.
It was during the next few years Choi would begin to establish himself as an outstanding and well respected martial arts instructor. Choi acquired some devoted disciples and spent a long time polishing his system into a highly effective means of self defense, specifically designed for the street or battlefield. This art was so devastating that it became known to the Koreans as HapKiDo (the way of coordinated power). Choi and one if his students, Ji Han Jae, brought HapKiDo to Seoul, which over 75% of the population lived, and made for a logical choice for expansion efforts. In Seoul, HapKiDo become very popular, along with Ji Han Jae. Due to its popularity and effectiveness, the Government became involved. The government took Ji Han Jae and made him the founder of HapKiDo. While in Dague, Choi continued to teach and spread the knowledge of his art.
In 1979, an American traveled to Korea, just to try and meet the founder of an art he had been studying in America. This man was Michael J. Wollmershauser. After extensive searching, he finally met Choi, and was able to speak with him. Choi grew a liking to the American, and invited him to his house. It was there that Mike viewed pictures of Choi and was able to recognize and name many of Choiís students. Choi was very impressed with the Americanís knowledge and desire for HapKiDo, and accepted him as a student, the only American to ever study with Choi. After several months, Mike needed to return to America, but he brought with him a great knowledge of HapKiDo from the man who is the true founder of HapKiDo, Choi Yong sool.
In 1981 Choi Yong Sool traveled to America, for the first time, invited by Mike Wollmershauser. This was a turning point in the world of martial arts. Choi Yong Sool passed on the level of Do Jin Nim (President) to one of his students in America, Chang Chan II. It was also during this time that Choi requested that Mike Wollmershauser organize an association for all Americans to follow, and have legitimate lineage with Choi Yong Sool. Choi retuned to Korea and continued to teach. In Korea he gave his school to his only high ranking student, Master Rim 9th Dan and he currently heads the Korean HapKiDo Association.
While in America, Mike Wollmershauser developed one of the largest and strongest HapKiDo Associations known as the American HapKiDo Association (AHA). Choi Yong Sool passed away in 1986, which left the HapKiDo world in turmoil, and from there many associations and false masters have appeared. Current day, HapKiDo is still thriving and growing with many associations and masters. Master Chang Chin II is not currently doing anything with his position, while Master Rim in Korea is challenging and stimulating the growth of HapKiDo in America and Korea.
The American HapKiDo Association and Korean HapKiDo Association are working hand in hand to bring HapKiDo to new highs and assure that proper credit is given to Choi, Yong Sool.