When Byung Kyu Park Arrived

There was unrest in Korea. The First Republic was overthrown by widespread protests known as the "April Revolution" in April 1960. After its fall, power was briefly held by an interim administration under Heo Jeong. A new parliamentary election was held on 29 July 1960. The Democratic Party, which had been in the opposition during the First Republic, easily gained power and the Second Republic was established

The Second Republic saw the end of the severe curbs on political expression that had been in place under the Rhee regime. As a result, freedom returned, and with it came an increase in political activity. Much of this activity was from leftist and student groups, which had been instrumental in the overthrow of the First Republic. Union membership and activity grew rapidly during the later months of 1960. Around 2,000 demonstrations were held during the eight months of the Second Republic.

Under pressure from the left, the Chang government carried out a series of purges of military and police officials who had been involved in anti-democratic activities or corruption. A Special Law to this effect was passed on 31 October 1960.

In this time of purging, many highly ranked military officers, special forces, and presidential guards fled for their lives and found refuge in the U.S. Some of these became the pillars of Hapkido. These men were Ji Han Jae, Kie-Duk Lee, Bon So Han, Byung Kyu Park, and others. 

After settling in Indianapolis and starting a school, Master Park reached out to other friends and Hapkido teachers in the area. At that time Kie-Duk Lee was teaching in Bloomington IN, just a few miles away. Master park aligned himself with Master Lee and joined the U.S. Hap Ki Do Association. At that time the lineage of Hapkido was virtually unchainged from its Aiki justu roots. The line of teaching went from Sokaku Takeda, the Aiki Justu master, to Young Sul Choi, who took the art to Korea. Choi taught Kie-Duk Lee, who, along with Master Park brought the art to the U.S. In the late 1960's Master Park joined his friend, Kie-Duk Lee and the U.S. Hap Ki Do Association, adding that prestigious lineage to his own. The gup certificate below is provided by Shane Miller from the Hap Ki Do school of Byung Kyu Park and shows Master Lee as the chairman of the association with Master Park's signature as the chief instructor. His was possibly one of the last certifcates awarded before the school closed.

In the past it appears Master Park was trained by Myung, according to In Sun Seo. Before Hapkido came to the U.S. it was common for most of the masters to have trained together, as most were part of the same military arm. The Blue House Division protected the president and his wife. The White Horse Division was one of the highly trained special operations divisions. Although we have no records to confirm it, Master Park was likely part of the Blue House Division, along with other masters of Hap Ki Do. Those masters who were part of the presidential guard fled for their lives during the purge brought about by the April Revolution, after the president they protected was deposed. We base this on the fact that when Mr. Park fled Korea the government tracked down and held his family in an attempt to force him to come back to Korea. The government would not have done this if Mr. Park was not in an important position. 

In the early 1980's Master Park retired due to health issues and moved to Oxnard, CA.

In Sun Seo
Jae Nam Myung

Original Hapkido Masters in Korea

Above are some of the original Hapkido maters from Korea.
From top left to right: Myung Jae-Nam, Unknown, Hwal Bok, Yum Jong-Ho,Kim Jong-Taek, Kim Jong-Jin, Unknown, Unknown, Kim Hung-Su, Unknown. From bottom left to right: ??, Lee Tae-Jun, Myung Kwang-Sik, Han Bong Soo,Choi Yong-Sul,Ji Han-Jae, Song Young-Ki, Kim Deok-In, Kwon Tae-Man, ??

Master Byung Kyu Park taught in the city of Indianapolis from the late 1960's to the early 1980's. His first class consisted of a few men who had black belts in other styles, whom he could instruct in Hapkido, integrating them quickly into the art of Hapkido to assist him in spreading this new art in the U.S. Jim Hiner was chosen and one of these men. 

Master Byung (Byong) Kyu Park 1972

Please note that in attempting to transliterate Korean names phonetic variations occur. The symbols rendered as Byung, Byong, Ryung, and Ryong.

This powerful and intense master related to me the story of his service as the bodyguard and agent protecting the Korean president and his wife. He spoke of problems with the Korean government and his separation from his family. Master Park also stated that he was sent to the U.S. by his teacher to spread the art of Hapkido. He taught in Indianapolis, Indiana until his relocation to California where he now teaches acupuncture at a university. My teacher, James Hiner, and I were privileged to have known and learned from Master Park during his years in the U.S. in the 1970's.
As we continued to search for pictures or witnesses to verify Master Park's lineage we had the great privilege of having the input of Grandmaster In Sun Seo. 
Grandmaster Seo writes through his daughter, Sara in the following explaination.
"GM thinks the name is Park, Byong Kyu and when I told him that your style has lots of Japanese influence, GM believes your master is the lineage from GM Myong, Jae Nam(deceased). GM explained that in the early 1970's, GM Myong formed an alliance with Aikido organization in Japan and formed "International Hapkido Federation" and this lineage does the techniques just like the Japanese. GM Seo knew GM Myong very, very well and feels that your Master Park is from this line and therefore is legitimate practitioner." 

A tremendously essential figure in the development of Hapkido as it is practiced within the Shinsei Kwan is Myung, Jae Nam. Myung was born on 31 December 1938. He began training in Hapkdio in 1958, training along side and with influential men. One of these men was Ji, Han Jae. Myung, Jae Nam trained with him at Ji's Joong Boo Si Jang studio in Seoul. He trained next to several other influential Hapkido Masters, including Han, Bong Soo and Choi, Sea Ho. Myung was one of the original Masters on the board of directors of the Korea Hapkido Association and was awarded his 8th Dan in 1972. In 1965, Myung, Jae Nam was the only master of Hapkido to heartily welcome a Japanese Aikido instructor, Hirata Sensei, who was touring Korea. Most of the Korean masters offered a less than warm reception for a visiting Japanese Sensei, primarily due to the Korean's distaste for the Japanese due to Japanese occupation. Myung, realizing that Hapkido originated from a Japanese style, not from the Hwa Rang Warriors as oft times falsely claimed, received this instructor and, for the next several years, Myung exchanged techniques with Hirata Sensei. Myung eventually formed an alliance with Japanese Aikikai. In 1969, when Grandmaster Myung formed his own organization and named it, Han Kuk Hapkisool Hae. The rank certificates he issued had the name of Aikido's founder, Uyeshiba Morihei on them in association with his own. He took hapkido "back to its roots". From 1969 until his death in 1999, Myung, Jae Nam was the Korean representative for Aikikai. In his version of Hapkido there are many Aikido based techniques, and far less kicks, especially the higher ones, than Sin Moo hapkido. Grandmaster Myung trained many hapkido practitioners here in Nam Choson. Park, Byong Kyu, a hapkido practitioner with a strong Aiki influence in his techniques, was influenced greatly by the training and teaching of Grandmaster Myung. Seo, In Sun, a lifelong friend of Grandmaster Myung, highly respected his friend and his style of Hapkido. This is one of the reasons that the Shinsei Kwan of Hapkido, as it was taught by Park, Byong Kyu, who was under Myung, is now aligned with the World Kido Federation, under the Direction of Grandmaster Seo, In Sun. 

Compiled by Dr. Daryl R. Covington Shinse Hapkido Itaewon 2-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The following articles may explain Master Park's place in the history of Hapkido. 
Joseph Lumpkin 

Shinsei Hapkido was developed from the Hapkido taught by Choi, Yong Sul, which was his version of Aiki-Jutsu. Shinsei Hapkido traces its roots through generations from Choi. Those generations are Choi through Ji Han Jea and Myong, Jae Nam to Master Park, then to James Hiner and Joseph Lumpkin. In those few generations little was altered. Shinsei Kwan has only a dozen soft style kicks. As you will read, this could narrow the space of our lineage to only a few years. This is explained in the article below. 

After Choi began his art, kicks were learned from monks in the area. These soft kicks came after Choi first started teaching. Shinsei does not contain the high, aggressive kicks added by Ji Han Jae toward the end of the development of Hapkido, but instead Shinsei adheres more to its Aiki roots. Kicks are simple and low. In Shinsei, grappling, four basic hard kicks, and four hard strikes were added to round out Shinsei Hapkido into a complete art for all circumstances. 

Shinsei Hapkido retains its Aiki-jutsu-like qualities as it was taught by Choi in the earlier form of Hapkido as well as an Aikido like quality as taught by Myung. The Shinsei system is taught by theory and philosophy which are demonstrated through technique. In this way each person must understand and develop the art within themselves. Only after the student shows he or she has internalized the concepts of the art can a black belt be awarded. 
The philosophy is a simple one. It can be summed up in three words.

Evade - Invade - Control

There may be thousands of techniques, but there are only a few theories and philosophies at work. If these are understood the art simply becomes a real-time application of these principles. 
For insight into the early years of Hapkido, we turn to Choi's own words. 

The following is taken from an interview with Hapkido Grandmaster 
Choi, Yong Sul(1904-1986)done in 1982.

Mr. Choi, the founder and Grandmaster of Korean Hapkido, discussed his personal history in an interview given during his visit to the United States in June of 1982. 

Mr. Choi, under what circumstances did you come to live in Japan? 

When I was a child I lived in the village of Yong Dong in Choong Chung Province, Korea. At this time there were many Japanese people in my region because of the Japanese occupation of Korea. I became acquainted with a Mr. Morimoto, who was a Japanese businessman and candy store owner. Morimoto had no sons. When the time came for him to return to Japan he abducted me and took me with him to Japan, intending that I would become his son. I did not like this man and because of my constant protest and crying he abandoned me in the town of Moji soon after we came to Japan. From Moji, I traveled alone to Osaka. I soon gave myself up to despair and while crying and wandering aimlessly, I was picked up by the police. When the authorities found out that I had no family in Japan, they arranged for me to be cared for at a Buddhist temple. I lived there for about two years under the care of the monk Kintaro, Wadanabi. 

How old were you when you were abducted? 

I think about 8 years old. 

What circumstances placed you in the home of Takeda, Sokaku? 

While living in the temple, I was fascinated by murals of battles and paintings of famous martial arts scenes displayed throughout the temple. When the time came, Wadanabi asked me what direction I wanted my life to take. I immediately pointed to a scene on the wall depicting the martial arts and said this is what I want to be. Kintaro, Wadanabi was a close friend of Takeda, Sokaku and arranged my introduction to him. Takeda, Sokaku liked me and feeling great sympathy for my situation, decided to adopt me. Upon my adoption he gave me the Japanese name Asao, Yoshida. I was about 11 years old at this time. 

In what city was the Buddhist temple that was your home? 


In what area was Takeda, Sokaku’s home and dojang (school) located? 

His home and school were located on Shin Su Mountain in the area of Akeda. 

What was the nature of your training under Takeda, Sokaku? 

Takeda, Sokaku was the head of Daito Ryu Aiki-Jutsu. I lived in his home and learned under his personal direction for over 30 years. I was his constant student, and for twenty years of my training, I was secluded in his mountain home. 

Takeda was the teacher of the Japanese royal family. Were you personally involved in teaching the royal family? 

Yes, at that time I was my teachers and assistant in all of his instruction. While in Tokyo, we also taught high ranking government officials within the palace circle. Also, we traveled to various parts of Japan and taught select groups of people. 

Did you ever leave Japan with Master Takeda for any exhibitions or teaching outside of Japan? 

Yes, when I was about 28 years old it was arranged by politicians for my teacher and his most outstanding students to travel to Hawaii in order to give an exhibition tour. 

What was your personal status on this tour? 

I was the leader of the exhibition team under the direction of my teacher. 

How many people were on the exhibition team and can you recall the names of any of the participants? 

At the time of the Hawaiian tour there were five of us; Takeda, Sokaku, myself (Asao, Yoshida), Jintaro, Abida and two others whose names I cannot at this time recall. 

When you returned from Hawaii were there any significant changes in your life? 

No, we continued to tour and teach and at the same time I continued to learn through Master Takeda's instruction. 

How was your life affected by the outbreak of World War II? 

World War II changed things in many ways. My teacher and I worked for the government by capturing military deserters that would hide in the mountains near our home. We would return these men, unharmed, to the authorities. The most significant changes happened toward the end of the war. Japan was losing the war and in a last desperation effort the government instituted a special military draft that called up most of the prominent martial artists of the time. These highly trained people were conscripted into special guerrilla-type units that were dispersed throughout the war zone. All of the inner circle of Daito Ryu Aiki-Jutsu were drafted except Master Takeda and myself. Most were killed in the final fighting of the war. 

Why were you not drafted along with the others? 

I was going to be drafted but Takeda, Sokaku intervened. Through his status and influence, he had me hospitalized for minor surgery. This stopped the process of my conscription and prevented me from being drafted. He prevented me from being put into the war because he felt that if I was killed Daito Ryu Aiki-Jutsu would be lost in its completed form upon his death. 

How many separate techniques had Takeda, Sokaku developed and mastered in his system? 


How many of these techniques have you personally mastered? 

Shortly before he died, my teacher informed me that I was the only student that he had schooled in all of his secrets and techniques. 

Do you know the circumstances of Takeda, Sokaku's death? 

Yes, he ended his life by refusing to eat. 

Why did he do that? 

Japan had never before been defeated in war. Takeda, Sokaku felt that a great shame and loss of face had been perpetrated on his ancestors by Japan's defeat at the hands of the Allies. Being a man of leadership, he felt a strong personal responsibility in this defeat. Because of this strong feeling, he decided that his only honorable path was to end his life. 

Did Master Takeda make any final statements to you before his death? 

He said goodbye to me and spoke of my long time desire to return to Korea. He bid me to do so. He was concerned that because of my position in his household and because of my Korean heritage, that I would be assassinated if I remained in Japan. Had I remained after his death to succeed him, it would have been dangerous. 

When did you return to Korea? 

I returned, with my household, shortly after Takeda, Sokaku's death. 

Where in Korea did you settle? 

We settled in Taegu Kyung Buk Province. Here I established my first Korean dojang, and have made my home here ever since. After returning I changed my name back to Choi, Yong Sul and the name of my art to Hapkido. 

End of Interview 

Although I believe the statements given directly by Chio, it is good to glimpse historical and social situations at the time of the birth of Hapkido. For comment on the above interview we turn to an article published on the website of Scott Shaw. 

Yong Shul Choi, the founder of Hapkido, was born in the town of Yong Dong, Choong Chung Province, relatively near Taegue, South Korea in 1904. In 1909 Korea came under Japanese occupation. It is believed that Japanese troops took Young Shul Choi from his homeland at the age of seven to be assigned work in Japan. It was a very common practice, at this period of history, for the Japanese occupying forces to relocate young male Korean children to Japan for various types of labor. 

Hapkido's Founder, Yong Shul Choi, stated in an interview conducted shortly before his death in 1982 that he had been abducted by a candy store owner, Mr. Morimoto, and taken to Japan to be his son. As he did not like the man, he eventually escaped. 

The actual causation for his transport to Japan may never be proven. If a Mr. Morimoto had been the causation, it would have sadly been for him to be a laborer and not a son. 

As fate would have it, Choi eventually came to work for, Sokaku Takeda (1860-1943), the 32nd patriarch of Daito Ryu Aikijitsu. Takeda was forty-four years old at the time Choi, a seven year old boy, came to his service. Choi was given the Japanese name Yoshida, Asao. The first or given name Tatjuttsu which is propagated as being the name Choi used in Japan is not a valid Japanese name. Therefore, it is historically inaccurate to believe he went by this name, though this is the name that Choi, himself, told people he went by while in Japan. 

Takeda and Choi 

Choi, now living under the employee of Takeda in Hokkaido, was not treated as an adopted son by Takeda, as legend has led many Hapkido practitioners to believe. Choi, in fact, was simply an employee of Takeda. 

We must place this association into historical perspective to understand the relationship between Takeda and Choi. At this juncture of history, the Japanese viewed themselves as the "Divine race." Koreans were simply thought of as a conquered people. Takeda, perhaps came to be fond of Choi, but due to his cultural programming, he would never have accepted him as a son. 

Certainly, there were affluent individuals, of Korean descent, who lived in Japan during this period and were more readily assimilated in Japanese martial culture. Unfortunately, Choi did not possess this status and was forced to live a life supported by labor. 

Though it is impossible to say where this myth that Choi was the adopted child of Takeda was originally born, all of those who propagate this falsehood in the west base their knowledge upon one interview conducted with Choi in 1982. It may simply be that Choi's statements were misinterpreted or mistranslated in this interview, as the statement of him being the adopted son of Takeda was never mentioned in any media report in Korea. It must be emphasized that it is factually inaccurate to perpetuate the belief that Choi was the adopted son of Takeda. 

Takeda's own son, Tokimune Takeda, stated that he never knew Choi, Yong Shul. This may be explained by the fact that Takeda possessed two distinct households. Only one of which housed his family. Or, that Tokimune Takeda simply wanted to disavow Hapkido link to Daito Ryu due to cultural reasons. In any case, Japanese immigration records, of the late 1930's and early 1940's, list Choi, under his Japanese name, as an employee of Takeda. 

Choi remained in the employ of Takeda for thirty years until April 25, 1943 when Takeda died. At that point he took his leave from the house of Takeda and shortly thereafter returned to Taegue, Korea. 

It must be noted that there is no historic record of Choi ever being certified as a student or teacher of Daito Ryu. The myth that Choi lost his certificates while returning to Korea is a falsehood as there are in depth records of every Daito Ryu Aikijitsu student kept in Japan. Choi, by his Korean or Japanese name, was never listed as a student. This fact substantiates the relationship between Choi and Takeda. Choi, however, for decades was under the direct influence of the art. He obviously mastered its techniques. 

The Birth of Hapkido

As stated, Choi remained with Takeda for thirty years until Takeda's death. Relieved of his duties, Choi returned to Korea. 

Choi's first student was a successful brewery manager named, Suh, Bok Sup. Prior to his study with Choi he had been awarded a 1st Dan Black Belt in Judo, under the direction of Korean Judo instructor, Choi, Yong Ho. In February of 1948, the twenty-four year old Suh witnessed Choi, who was then in his forties, get into a fight with several men. Choi rapidly devastated his opponents. Impressed with his technique, Suh summoned Choi to his office and inquired as to his style. This meeting eventually lead to Suh hiring Choi, who had previously been a poor rice cake seller and hog farmer since his return to Korea. Choi would teach Suh for several years privately, eventually also became a bodyguard for Suh's father, Suh, Dong Jin. 

Suh, Bok Sup became instrumental in helping Choi open his first school of self defense, which was established in February of 1951. He also became his first Black Belt. Due to Suh's advanced understanding of Judo, Suh lent some of this knowledge to the system which later became known as Hapkido. Many of the basic sleeve grabs, shoulder grabs, and throws, used in Hapkido, can trace their origin to Judo. 

The initial name of the system of self defense Choi taught was, Dae Dong Ryu Yu Sool. This is the Korean translation for Daito Ryu Jujitsu. 

Initially, Choi taught his students a very pure form of Daito Ryu Aikijitsu. Many of the later students of Hapkido attempt to falsely date the origin of Hapkido to some ancient Korean art. This is historically inaccurate. Choi, himself, never made this claim. 

As time progressed and other Korean martial art pioneers, such as General Hong Hi Choi (Taekwondo) and Hwang Kee (Tang Soo Do) were rediscovering and expanding upon the offensive nature of Tae Kyon, their discoveries influenced some of the advanced students of Choi, such as Ji, Han Jae, who slowly began to incorporate the very aggressive punching and kicking techniques into the overall understanding of Hapkido. Choi, himself, never taught kicking in association with Hapkido, however. 

Hapkido's final criteria came through a slow testing period, as did the other martial art systems born on the newly independent Korean Peninsula. Even the name Hapkido went through various changes, including: Yu Kwon Sul, Yu Sool, Ho Shin Mu Do, and Bi Sool. 

End of article 

Comparison - AikiJutsu and Hapkido by Eric Stieg (PDF with Video links embedded)
Pictures of Choi


A Letter From One of Master Park's Earliest Students in the USA


I recently stumbled across your article on Master Byung Kyu Park.

My name is Raul Sarmiento and I was a student of Master Park for six years. I am the student sitting on Master Park's left (on the right as you look at the photo). I wondered what happened to him after I left, I had moved to Puerto Rico where I went to college.

I could not find another true Hap-ki-do dojang until I moved to Washington State, where I studied under Chae Um Kim. While Master Park's style used the open hand more, Master Kim's used the closed fist.

Master Kim was also a smaller man (as I was the smallest in Master Park's class) and he taught me how to bring the twisting techniques closer to the body to make them more powerful.

I am grateful to both of these men and I will like to say that I'm glad Master Park is being recognized for the great teacher he was. and if was you that wrote the article then thank you for bringing him to light.

I came into Mr. Park's Hap-Ki-Do school  in late 1968 (if my memory serves me) as a brown belt from Dave Green's Indiana School of Jiujitsu (though towards the end, the instructor was Joe Fraser - you can correct me on the spelling).

I recalled becoming enamored with the art after reading an article (probably Black Belt Magazine) and later going to a demonstration in the southern part of Indianapolis, too far for my commute at the time. About a year or so later a school opened in my part of town and I left Jiujitsu for Hap-Ki-Do.

I do recall the BB class very well. You may have seen me there, but my role was that of Uke. I did attend two classes per session (Approx. 4 sessions per week), the second was as a crash dummy. I believed that I could improve on my techniques if I would go and keep my eyes and ears open during the BB class. If my mind serves me correctly Bill Wallace attended a few of those classes before he became well known.

Once or twice a month we would receive a visit by David San Bok Kim. He would teach us or expand on the philosophy behind Hap-Ki-Do. This was mainly a sit down class with very little physical participation.

Before each class we would go through Dan Jun breathing, something that was sorely missing in Seattle when Master Chae Um Kim retired and another BB (reluctant to give out names)  took over. Later the BB incorporated the breathing back into the class when he noticed a lack of focus on some of the students.

I know he had a bad back and was careful during stretching and kicking. He said that he had worked in some sort of mine (a big hole in the ground). The platform his group was on collapsed and he fell 60 feet. He was able to break his fall by rolling, but the rocks on the bottom were rather unforgiving and he was left with the back injury.

He once told a story of when he first arrived (I believe he said that it was in New York) he was walking down the street with all the money he owned in his coat pocket. A group of thugs stopped him and told him to empty his pockets. He didn't understand English very well back then, but he got the gist of what was going on. He refused (it was all he had) and they attacked. He couldn't recall what or how it happened, but when it was over they were on the ground and none of them were moving. He didn't wait around to see what would happen next so he left the scene.

Master Park seemed very concerned when senior black belts would visit us from Korea and tried to add strikes to techniques that Master Park had shown us. Master Park follow the other black belt (while they were not looking), shake his head, and show us the technique without the strikes. he believed the technique was perfectly fine and did not need the overkill. perhaps his experience on the streets of New York were influencing him.

One of his favorite sayings, when he had someone in an arm lock was that the technique would "very hard time give." (stress on the word very). Sometimes he would make a motion as if grabbing and ripping someone's groin and say "take out potatoes".

He was a very creative driver, so no one would let him drive when we went to demos.

I do recall him being extremely tired during his classes towards the end, but it didn't seem to effect the way he taught.

Some one at one time mentioned that he was a 7th degree Black Belt, but I have no way of proving that either way. I sorry to say that I had a whole collection of photos from the class which disappeared when I moved from Puerto Rico back to the United States, along with several boxes of personal belongings. Any photos from the class will be greatly appreciated.

The photo on your website is now the only proof I have of the class (outside of my Black Belt Certificate). I also remember Steve (the one next to James wearing the headband in the photo)  I believe he was also into yoga. Kenny, sitting on the other side of Master Park, walked with a limp. He was a drywall applicator who had a scaffold fall on him and crush his ankle. I believe they had fused what was left of it to his leg so he really didn't have an ankle per say.

The original class size, when I started was around 63 students. With maybe two or three other exceptions, the group photo reflects the ones who made it to Black Belt. I believe there was also a Bob Roller (who was also a BB in Ishin Ryu) and a Bobby Rowe (the youngest in the group) (its been 34 years so correct me again on the names if needed). I got my Black Belt in 1974, had a going away party at my house (the whole class was invited) and left for Puerto Rico that summer. I returned a year later and visited and one or two years after wards. that was the last time I saw Master Park. The third time I returned I found a Golf store where the dojang was.

I stopped practicing Hap-Ki-Do about eight years ago when I tore both kneecaps in a work related accident. I never got past my first degree black belt. When I started to take Hap-Ki-Do in Seattle I told Master Kim that I was interested in learning and did not want the distractions wearing a black belt would bring into his class. So I kept the white belt for the seven years I studied under him. Besides, his techniques were very different from that of Master Park's. When asked what type of Hap-Ki-Do he taught he said that it was "Flying Eagle". He had extremely powerful punching techniques which were executed from a high (like a boxer) position, never from the hip. Master Kim was small (I am 5'6" and he was shorter than me), but he could whip us around like we were rag dolls.


Raul Sarmiento

Document taken from

Early affiliation between Hapkido, Kuk Sool Won and Hwa Rang, Cir. Mid-1960's

by Bob Dugan.

This article has been supplimented with additional information.

The decade of the 60's was a period of great assimilation and re-organization for the Korean martial arts. At the end of the Second World War, Choi, Yong Sool (Sul) returned from Japan and in 1947 met Suh, Bok Sub . Choi agreed to teach Bok Suh Yu Sool, the Korean version of Daito Ryu Aiki Ju Jitsu. In this early period, certain Korean kicking and punching techniques were combined in the system and the name was expanded to indicate the broaden art form called Korean Hapki Yu Kwon Sool, or the shorten term, Korean Hapkido. The new name suggested that the art was a total or combined martial art. In 1951, Yong Sul Choi opened a small school at his home to teach to the public this new art. He had nine disciples who spread out across the country and the globe to teach Hapki Yu Kwon Sool. Kim, Moo Woong and Ji, Han Jae were two notable students of Choi.

Kim started with Master Choi in 1953. In 1961, Kim formed Shin Moo Kwan Hapkido and taught such notable martial artists as Won, Kwang-wha (founder of Moo Sool Kwan Hapkido) - Lee, Han Chul (now teaching in South America) - Kim Woo Tak (immigrated to Canada) - Huh Il Woong - Lee, Joo Bang (founder of the World Hwa Rang Do Association).
According to Grand Master Suh, Bok Sub, it was Kim, Moo Woong (some times spelled Kim Moo Hyun) that went to the Buddhist temple to study ancient Korean kicking techniques from the Monks, and upon his return, introduced these kicks to the new art, Hap Ki Yu Kwon Sool. These are the kicks that Shinsei Hapkido retained. There were ten kicks brought back from the monks. Many are low kicks that attack the shin and knee. Others are circular or "straight legged" in nature such as crescent kicks. Later Shinsei Hapkido added the more traditional front, side, roundhouse, and back kicks to its arsenal.
In his archival book on the history of Hapkido, He Young Kimm says that Ji, Han Jae and Kim, Moo Woong developed the kicking techniques that are now associated with Hapkido, Kuk Sool Won, Hwa Rang Do and Shin Moo Kwan Hapkido and many other derivative art forms.
Ji, Han Jae is considered by some to be the founder of modern Hapkido. Ji, began studying under Yong Sul Choi in 1953 while a teenager at Tae Gu Technical High School. A year later, he opened his first Yu Kwon Sool Hap Ki school, under an agreed affiliation with Yong Sul Choi. Choi, Yong Sool, is remembered by his critics as a person mostly concerned with money and getting his "cut". from his disciples. Lessons with Choi, Yong Sool were really expensive, something like a 100 pound bag of rice/month, which was ten times the cost of comparable Taekwondo lessons. Also, Choi was thought to be very mean. He would whip his students if they didn't do things exactly as he said. Ji, Han Jae still bears the whip scars on his back from Choi, Yong Sool. There was definitely a love/hate relationship between them.
In 1956, Ji left Choi to form his own organization. He tired of the long name and shortened it to just one word, Hapkido. Some of his most notable students were Kang, Jong Soo - Hwang, Duk Kyu - Myung, Kwang Shik - Kim, Yong Jin - Kim, Yong Whan - Lee, Tae Joon - Myung, Jae Nam - Choi, Seo Oh - Han, Bong Soo (During the late 60's, it was Bong Soo Han who popularized Hapkido in the U.S. in the movie Billy Jack). Following his study with Ji, Bong trained with Yong Sool Choi and considers Choi to be his teacher to whom he owes the greatest debt of gratitude.
One of points of historical interest here is the powerful political position that Ji Han Jae attained in the early 1960's when he became President Park's personal bodyguard. Park's dictatorship provided Ji with ennormous political influence. After the assasination attempt of President Park which resulted in the death of the President's wife, Ji's political fortunes changed. He resigned as did all Presidential Security Guards, but joined the ruling political party. As political events changed, Ji was recruited to serve in Blue House protection unit once again. He urged the systematic training of presidential guards, but was accused of a conspiracy to overthrow the President and was sent to jail for one year. Ji eventually left Korea and immigrated to the United States where he continues to teach Hapkido.
But the decade of the 60's spawned other organizations that shared the same pool of techniques: In 1962, Suh, In Hyuk formed Kuk Sool Won; in 1962, another of Choi's original students, Won, Kwang Wha opened his own school and called it Moo Sool Kwan Hapkido. In 1969, after the death of his mentor, Buddhist Priest, Suh Am Dosa, Lee, Joo Bang formed the World Hwa Rang Do Association and introduced it to the United States in 1972, although his brother, Lee, Joo Sang who preceded him in the U. S. with a Hapkido school in 1968, only remained active in the new Hwa Rang Do Association for about three years.

Grandmaster Myung Jae Nam is a Korean Hapkido practitioner who later founded two new martial styles, hankido and hankumdo. He started his martial arts training in 1948, and his hapkido training with Grandmaster Ji Han Jae along with Bong Soo Han and Grandmaster Choi Sea Oh. In 1972, Grandmaster Myung was the 8th person to receive an 8th degree black belt from Grandmaster JI Han Jae and was one of the original members of the Korean Hapkido Association, which was formed in 1965 at the request of the South Korean President Park Chung Hee. Si Jang location in 1958 or 1959, which was the third location GM JI Han Jae had in Seoul.
Joining Grandmaster Myung at that time was also Grandmaster Bong Soo Han and Grandmaster Choi Sea Oh.
The Korean Hapkido Association was formed with the assistance of Mr. Park Jong Kyu, who was the head of the Presidential Protective Forces and one of the most powerful men in Korea at the time.

In 1967 the Korean president Park, Jung Hee became interested in our founder, Dr. Joo Bang Lee's Kuk Sool Hwae . So the chief of the secret agents, Park, Jong Kyu sent master HanJae Ji to meet with our founder Dr. Lee at his headquarters in Seoul. Then they discussed the President's request to unify the Korean martial arts under one name and one governing organization like what had happened in 1965 when Kong Soo Do (SongMu Kwan, ChongDo Kwan, ChangMu Kwan, JiDo Kwan, HanMu Kwan), Tang Soo Do (MuDuk Kwan), and Tae Kwon Do (military ODo Kwan) unified as a Korean martial sport under the one name of Tae Kwon Do and the one governing organization of the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association. So, Grandmaster Lee and Grandmaster Ji handed together to try and unify the Korean martial arts. Then our founder disbanded his Kuk Sool Hwae Organization, and began to focus on this new task.

So in 1967, at the request of the Korean President Park, our Hwa Rang Do® Founder Dr. Joo Bang Lee and Joo Sang Lee organized the Korean Martial Arts Association (Dae Han Mu Do Hwae ) with SungMu Kwan Hapkido founder Han Jae Ji, Kihapdo founder Dae Hoon Choi who held a high position in the KCIA, Jong Kyu Park the chief secret agent, and Ji Chul Cha a congressman who later was the chief secret agent that was assassinated with President Park. Dae Hoon Choi became president of the Association, Jong Kyu Park was the chairman, and there were many government administrators and congressman that were board members. Our founder Dr. Lee, his brother, and other Hwa Rang Do® masters directed the unification of all the Korean martial arts and promotions, while other martial art founders supported their efforts.

The Unified Korean Martial Arts Exposition was held on May 27, 1968 at the Jang Chung Sports Arena in Seoul under promotion done by our founder Dr. Lee and his brother. All the martial arts that were included in this unification were Hwa Rang Do® , KukSool Kwan Hapkido , BiSool , SungMu Kwan Hapkido , ShinMu Kwan Hapkido , , KiHapDo , Kido , Kukkido , YuSool , and YuKwanSool . Presently all of these other martial art names have been disbanded and are no longer used in the public except for Hwa Rang Do® and Hapkido . Also, at the time of this Exposition and Unification, Grandmaster Yong Sul Choi who was the founder of Yu Sool changed to the Hapkido name. Now his title became the owner of Hapkido (Hapkido DoJoo Nim) and he no longer used the YuSool name. At this time, Grandmaster Choi also conferred to our Founder Dr. Joo Bang Lee and Han Jae Ji the rank of 8th Dan Degree Black Belt Grandmaster, the highest position in Hapkido 1968.

Since it was difficult for all martial art leaders to agree on a name (Hwa Rang Do® or Hapkido) and on methods of administration, the Hankuk Mu Do Hwae (Korean Martial Art Association) was divided into two major arts shortly after the martial arts unified exposition. One, Hwa Rang Do® and the Korean Hwa Rang Do® Association (June 1968) which was lead by Dr. Joo Bang Lee and his brother and the other Hapkido and the Korean Hapkido Association which was lead by Dae Hoon Choi and Han Jae Ji (June 1968). However, these Hapkido leaders made a mistake, and lost control of the ability to maintain their art. Presently there are a hundred different Kwan , Won , and other individual organizations that have broken off. Because these original leaders did not maintain the quality of their art, there is no longer a strong and singular governing organization of it.
The initial name of the system of self defense Choi taught was, Dae Dong Ryu Yu Sool. This is the Korean translation for Daito Ryu Jujitsu.
Initially, Choi taught his students a very pure form of Daito Ryu Aikijitsu. Many of the later students of Hapkido attempt to falsely date the origin of Hapkido to some ancient Korean art. This is historically inaccurate. Choi, himself, never made this claim.

Grand Master Myong, Jae Nam was born on December 31, 1938 and began his Hapkido training with Grand Master Ji, Han Jae at the Joong Bu Si Jang location in 1958 or '59, which was the third location GM Ji had in Seoul. Joining GM Ji's school at about the same time were Grand Master Han, Bong Soo and Grand Master Choi, Sea Oh. In 1972, Grand Master Myong was the 8th person to receive 8th Dan from GM Ji and one of the original members of the Korea Hapkido Association, which was formed in 1965 at the request of President Park, Chung Hee.

The Korea Hapkido Association was formed with the assistance of Mr. Park, Jong Kyu, who was the head of the Presidential Protective Forces and one of the most powerful men in Korea at the time. Mr. Park, Jong Jyu served as the first President of the KHA from 1965 until 1974, when he resigned all of his government positions in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on President Park's life. During that assassination attempt, the President's wife was killed, and Mr. Park accepted responsibility.

In 1965, a Japanese Aikido instructor, named Sensei Hirata, toured Korea and visited the many Hapkido schools. No one was interested in learning about Japanese Aikido, except GM Myong, Jae Nam. Myong welcomed Hirata Sensei into his school and exchanged information and techniques with him for about four years. In 1969, GM Myong broke from the Korea Hapkido Association and formed his own group called the "Han Kuk Hapkisool Hae". He considered himself associated with the Aikikai in Japan and on his certificates from that era, he even has Aikido founder Uyeshiba Morihei's name at the top.

In January 1972, he changed the of his group to the "Han Kuk Hapki Hae" and moved his headquarters from Inchon to Bukchang-Dong, Chung-Ku, Seoul, Korea. In October 1973, while still maintaining his own organization, he assisted in forming the "Dae Han Min Kuk Hapkido Hyop Hae" and was appointed Executive Director and he remained with that organization until 1980. In August 1974, he again changed the name of his organization to "Kuk Jae Yong Meng, Hapki Hae" and is known in English as the International Hapkido Federation.

Grand Master Myong is the Korean representative for the Aikikai in Japan and has included many Aikido techniques in his version of Hapkido. He has produced many books and even a videotape of interpretation of the martial arts. He has a large following in Korea, and is steadily expanding the International Hapkido Federation worldwide.

As time progressed and other Korean martial art pioneers, such as General Hong Hi Choi (Taekwondo) and Hwang Kee (Tang Soo Do) were rediscovering and expanding upon the offensive nature of Tae Kyon, their discoveries influenced some of the advanced students of Choi, such as Ji, Han Jae, who slowly began to incorporate the very aggressive punching and kicking techniques into the overall understanding of Hapkido. Choi, himself, never taught kicking in association with Hapkido, however.
Hapkido's final criteria came through a slow testing period, as did the other martial art systems born on the newly independent Korean Peninsula. Even the name Hapkido went through various changes, including: Yu Kwon Sul, Yu Sool, Ho Shin Mu Do, and Bi Sool.
Today, there is no one system of Hapkido, as is the case with WTF Taekwondo, for example. As time has gone on, each teacher and ensuing organization has integrated their own understandings and self defense realizations into this art. There are, however, two distinct types of Hapkido. The first are the schools which hold tightly to the original teachings of Yong Shul Choi. This style of Hapkido will commonly be observed when visiting or studying in the Hapkido dojangs located in the Taegue vacinity of South Korea. Here, the focus is placed primarily upon the Daito Ryu based joint locks, deflections, and throws. The second distinct style of Hapkido is those instructors, schools, and organizations who trace their lineage to Grandmaster Ji, Han Jae - whether directly or indirectly. In these schools one will observe a plethora of punching, kicking, and weapon techniques, in association with the joint locks and throws commonly associated with Hapkido. This style of Hapkido will commonly be observed at the dojangs based in Seoul, South Korea and, in fact, most of the Western world.

Below are clips of some VERY BASIC Shinsei Hapkido techniques.
These are large Quicktime files and will take time to download.

A brief look at Hapkido from the KHF
readiness forms
Defensive Forms
Basic Blocks
26 Judo Throws in 30 seconds
A Few Basic Wrist Techniques
Shinsei Manual - 10Mb


Mr. Byung Kyu Park is Found Alive and Well!


This week has been bizarre and surprising. My teacher, Jim Hiner, had heard and reported to me some 20 - 30 years ago that Master Byung Kyu Park had closed his studio, left for California, and had taken ill and died.


Because of the World Wide Web I have been getting calls from some of the old students of Mr Park. Some thanked me for keeping his memory alive. Some called to ask questions. No one knew where he was and thus assumed the story was correct. This week I heard from an old student who thought he knew how to contact Mr Park’s son. We assumed Park’s family was released from Korea after the regime change and had come to the US.


The next day the student called back and stated that he had found Park’s son and was told that Mr Park was alive and teaching acupuncture in a small university in California. We obtained a phone number and yesterday I spoke to Mr Park after over 20 years.


His English was as bad as ever… maybe worse. We spoke for a while as he explained his decision not to publish. He said he teaches only now and then and did not want to publish because he considered his art to be too dangerous. It was not for demonstrations or tournaments because injury or death could ensue.


Then he began to speak of the art and nature. He said there are only 3 motions in the universe, circular, straight, and combinations. He said generally speaking, karate is founded on straight lines, kung fu and judo are circular, but hapkido is the only art formed on the combinations of both.


He continued that there are only 7 principles in martial arts and all techniques are formed upon these principles. Each principle gives life to thousands on techniques. He did not name these principles but I believe he was speaking about what he used to call “bend way, corner way, twist way, hyperextension, barring, pushing out or expanding, and compressing or pulling in.” From these all techniques take place.


He said his art had expanded and he teaches how to protect from dogs. He stated that to kill a dog one should grab it by the lap of the neck and strike to the base of the neck and skull several times. Or grasp the dog from the back of the neck and compress the kidneys as hard as possible for several minutes. He went on to explain others that were more violent.


Lastly he spoke of the effects of air and water and how they cleansed and changed everything. He bemoaned how dirty and wasteful Americans were, needing 70 gallons of water a day and still their bodies were toxic because of how they lived and what they ate. He referred to the Bible

 1 John 5:7-9 (King James Version) 7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Mr. Park said that in his opinion this was a formula of how to be clean both inside and out.

Lastly, I attempted to question him about his own training. Even though I asked several times in various ways his response was always the same. This, he said, was his own style. The mountain peaks taught him all he knew.

It was a wonderful surprise to speak to a man, which I thought was dead for all these years. It was also a wonderful experience to speak to a fellow student. We exchanged experiences and compared techniques. Eric said that he had always wondered why our hapkido looked different to most others modern hapkido practitioners. I told him about what In Sun Seo had said about our lineage and how he thought Myung Nam had influenced and possible taught Mr Park.

Mountain peaks, military training, Nam, Choi… we may never know in what portions these influenced Mr Park, but I am glad he came into my young life and very grateful I had a second chance to learn from him. I believe he is now around 75 years old, although no one really knows since he never talked about his age. When he asked me how old I was now, he laughed and said he was younger than me now.