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Development of Hapkido

One of the things that I enjoy about Hapkido is the fact that it is structured to combat and defend against other martial arts. Understanding this historical fact will help the student understand how Hapkido was developed as well as understand where Hapkido is or should be going in the future.

The very first student of Hapkido, Grand Master Suh, Bok Sup, was originally a judo man back in the late 1940's. One day, he saw the Father of Hapkido, Grand Master Choi, Yong Sool get into a fight. GM Suh called GM Choi to his office and asked what type of techniques GM Choi used in his fight. GM Choi responded, "Hap Ki Yu Sool". After seeing first hand how effective GM Choi's martial art was, GM Suh begged GM Choi to teach him, so that he could use it to combat Judo. GM Suh helped GM Choi open his first school in Taegu and eventually became GM Choi's first black belt.

This emphasis on judo defense is seen today. One of the first things a beginning Hapkido student learns is defenses against various holds. Many of the holds do not make logical sense to the average student, such as a low sleeve grab, or armpit/side belt grab. While it is true that this is a low probability attack outside of Japan or Korea, it would not be if your opponent were a judo practitioner. Judo players often grab hold of their opponent's clothing, at the low sleeve, armpit, shoulder, lapel, etc. The beginning Hapkido techniques were meant as a defense against those. Partially because judo defense was the first thing GM Suh wished to learn, it was placed at the beginning of the Hapkido curriculum, where it remains today.

Defense against Kendo, another popular martial art in Korea after World War II, is contained primarily in the Dan Bong or Short Stick Defense techniques. In the old days, the Dan Bong techniques were practiced and developed in conjunction with the bamboo sword techniques of Kendo. One student would attack with the bamboo sword while the other defended, using Dan Bong techniques.

Defense against Tang Soo Do/Kong Soo Do/Kwon Bupand eventually Taekwondo (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Taekwondo") were contained in the kick and punch defenses taught to Hapkido students. Originally, Taekwondo had only three major kicks, the front kick, side kick and roundhouse kick, and defenses were developed to counter these. Punch defenses were also developed against the standard lunge punch which was a throwback from the Japanese Karate origins of Taekwondo.

Many people question the practicality of developing  techniques against someone who holds their punch out, arguing that no one would do that in a real fight. However, back in the early 1950's and 1960's, Taekwondo practitioners would often times be taught to keep their fist locked out, just as they are today. Back then, people used to keep their fist extended after punching, because that is how they trained. The Hapkido punch defenses were designed with this type of attack in mind.

Knife defenses were developed in Korea because back then guns were outlawed and the only weapons carried by gangsters was a knife. Interestingly, Hapkido also has boxing defenses. When Grand Master Ji, Han Jae moved to Seoul to teach, one of his early schools was located right next to a boxing gym. After observing the boxing methods, techniques were developed by GM Ji to defend against boxing punches.

Understanding the historical development of their chosen martial art often leads to greater understanding of the techniques that are practiced. Hopefully, knowing the underlying roots will also assist the martial arts practitioner in developing techniques to be used in developing defenses for the types of attacks they most likely will face, in their location.

The Development of a Hapkido-Aikido Hybred Form

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.

If you have any commentary on this article that you would like to circulate amoung the members of the Society of the Hwarang, E-mail Bob Duggan and he will forward the comments. E-mail to Bob Duggan .

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