In general it is difficult to follow the history of development of martial arts. We know that several self-defence techniques have their origin in the Indochina area from where it spread into the East Asian area together with Buddhism around 2000 years ago. Buddhist monks were forced to develop self-defence techniques for their long and dangerous tours.
Also the roots of HapKiDo can be found in Buddhism. This you can see from the fact, that HapKiDo uses several locking, joint and power utilization techniques following the basic idea only to incapacitate the opponent.
Several different fighting styles were developed in Korea, a country which was steadily faced with conquerors. In the years between 18 before Christ and 688 after Christ three kingdoms arose on the Korean peninsula out of the tribal units and alliances: Koguryo, Paekche and Shilla.
Shilla (57 before Christ until 688 after Christ) used to be the weakest and less developed kingdom, but a new developed and tightly organized leadership let it bloom. The kingdom crowded an elite of highly educated young men around itself, who were the mental and moral force of the country governing its destinies. They called themselves “Hwarang”, such as “corps of blossom of youth”. Buddhism became the predominant religion.
During this period a Buddhist priest called Kwang Bopsa developed and outlined special hand and leg techniques, who passed his martial arts knowledge to the “Hwarang”. Then the Hwarang became the elite soldiers of the kingdom Shilla. In the middle of the 6th century after Christ Shilla took over the other kingdoms Koguryo and Paekche.
During the following centuries the kingdom Shilla came to prosperity and influence. A period of freedom upstaged the martial arts. Only secluded Buddhist monasteries maintained martial arts and prevented it from doom, because it is a system to keep body and mind healthy.
During the eras 935 after Christ until 1392 after Christ – so called Koryo dynasty - and 1392 - 1910, the - Choson empire (in the west know as Yi dynasty) several different kinds of martial arts were developed. Tae-Kyon was one of the most famous.
When in 1910 Japan occupied Korea and took over the country it was prohibited to practice any kinds of existing martial arts. In secrecy however the different styles were still practiced, they had names like “Tang soo” or “Hwa soo”.
In this period of oppression Coi Young Sul immigrated to Japan. In his young years he had already gained knowledge about “Tae-Kyon” and in Japan he met some famous masters of martial arts. Two of them were Sensei Sogaku Takeda, who used to teach “Daido-Ryu Aiki Jujutsu” and Sensei Morihei Uyeshiba, founder of Aikido.
At the end of world war II master Choi went back to Korea in 1945. Only fractions of the former complete system of Korean martial arts were still existing at this time. Two styles were distinguished: the “hard” and the “soft” one.
The hard styles like "Tea-kwon-do" and "Tang-soo-do" consisted of kicks and punches, the soft styles were called "yusul” and "ho sin mu sool".
Choi Young Sul was aware of the lack of a complete system, so he united the Korean style – the hard style with its kicks and punches – with the soft style and its knowledge about the power utilization techniques, which he had learned in Japan. Coi Young Sul called his style “Yu Kwon Sool”, later he changed it for "Hap Ki Yu Kwon Sool."
Sunsanim Ji Han Jae, one of Choi Young Sul’s first students, also combined all kinds of martial arts he had ever learned and in 1958 he called his style “HapKiDo”.
The first HapKiDo school was founded in 1958 by Sunsanim Ji Han Jae. In 1959 Ji Han Jae moved his school to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, from where he and the first HapKiDo generation of masters like Kwang Sik Myung, Bong Soo Han, Kim Sou Bong and many others propagated HapDiDo all over Korea. Due to the efficiency of this system in the years 1970 to 1979 it was possible to staff the entire guard of the Korean president “Park Chung Hee” with HapKiDo people.
After the political revolution in 1979 many HapKiDo masters went abroad, mainly to America and Europe, only a few of them remained in Korea. Sunsanim Ji Han Jae immigrated to the USA in 1984, after a short trip to Germany, where he met his student Dojunim Kim Sou Bong. From this time on he called his style “Sin Moo-HapKiDo”. Dojunim Kim Sou Bong already emigrated to Europe/Germany in 1964.