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

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. 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.

A Photo Journal Document Connecting Hapkido, Kuk Sool Won and Hwa Rang Do


Joo Bang Lee's school in Seoul, Korea. Note senior Master Instructors seated in the center starting with Ji, Han Jae, then to the left and right Hwang, Duk Kyu and Myung, Kwang Shik. These men were all well known Hapkido senior instructors under Ji, Han Jae. At the edge, in a less prominent seating position, Lee, Joo Sang on the Left and Lee, Joo Bang on the Right. The Lee Brothers were at this time Fifth or Sixth Degree Black Belts under the general organization of Hapkido which was headed by Ji, Han Jae, but the Banner on the wall in the rear indicates an affiliation with Kuk Sool Won. The Kuk Sool symbol can also be detected painted on a board to the left of the group which suggest that Joo Bang Lee was affiliated with In Hyuk Suh, founder of Kuk Sool Won.

In the book, Hapkido 11, by He Young Kimm, Joo Bang Lee says that in 1962 he left Moo Woong Kim's school to study open-hand striking techniques with In Hyuk Suh. Joo Bang Lee considers the Buddhist Monk, Suh Am Dosa his teacher and that he studied with In Hyuk Suh to enrich his martial arts experience. He was already a ranked instructor under Moo Woong Kim, but Master Kim was drafted into the army, leaving his disciples to seek knowledge wherever they could find it which was very common in those days.

However, the photograph is irrefutable evidence that Joo Bang Lee, after his return from In Hyuk Suh's Headquarters in Pusan opened his first school in Seoul, Korea , under the Kuk Sool Won banner. There is no evidence that his brother Joo Sang Lee followed his younger brother in this shift of allegiance from Hapkido to Kuk Sool. Although, it is quite apparent that loyalties were very fluid during these years. When Joo Sang Lee opened his first school in the U.S. in 1968, the school was called Hapkido until Joo Bang Lee's arrival in 1972 when the name was changed to Hwa Rang Do. It may help to refer to the article by Bob Duggan in his Personal History of Hwa Rang Do for details of the early introduction of this art to the United States. Click on the file below.

HWA RANG DO: A Personal History by Bob Duggan

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