History of Hapkido


Hapkido evolved during the mid-20th century by selectively fusing a wide range of existing martial arts with new ideas and techniques. Tracing the evolution of Hapkido reveals the art’s relationship with other martial arts such as Aikido, Judo, Jujutsu, Taekwondo and other diverse styles such as Kuk Sool Won and Hwa Rang Do.

The birth of modern Hapkido can be traced to the efforts of a group of Korean nationals in the post Japanese colonial period of Korea. Choi Yong Sul (b. 1904, d. 1986) and his most prominant students; Suh Bok Sub, the first student of the art, Ji Han Jae (b. 1936) undoubtedly the greatest promoter of the art, Kim Moo Hong, a major innovator in the art, Myung Jae Nam who forged a greater connection between the art and Japanese aikido and then founded Hankido, and others, all of whom were direct students of Choi or of his immediate students.

Hapkido is still widely taught in Korea, together with the other traditional Korean martial arts and is widely used by the Korean Special Forces, the Police Force and Presidential Guards.

Choi Yong Sul

It is known that Choi ended up in Japan as a young boy and returned to Korea with techniques characteristic of Daito-ryu, a forerunner of Aikido. Some claim that while he was in Japan, Choi became the adopted son of the patriarch of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, Sokaku Takeda although this is hard to formally prove as it has not been verified by the descendants of Sokaku Takeda.

According to Choi he was abducted from his home village of Yong Dong in Chungcheongbuk-do in 1912 by a Japanese sweet merchant named Morimoto who had lost his own sons and wished to adopt Choi. Choi resisted and proved so troublesome to the candymaker that he abandoned him in the streets of Moji, Japan. Choi made his way to Osaka as a beggar and, after having been picked up by police, was placed in a Buddhist temple which cared for orphans in Kyoto. The abbot of the temple was a monk named Wantanabe Kintaro.

Choi spent 2 years at the temple and had a difficult life there, not only in school but with the other children due to his poor Japanese language skills and his Korean ethnicity which made him stand out in Japan. Apparently due to the boy’s tendency of getting into fights and his intense interest in the temples murals depicting war scenes, when asked by Watanabe what direction that he wished for his life to take he expressed interest in the martial arts.

It was after being adopted by Wantanabe Kintaro that Choi ended up spending a long time period in the household of Sokaku Takeda and where he learned the basics of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu.

In 1948 after becoming involved in an altercation with several men in a dispute over grain at the Seo Brewing Company, son of the chairman of the brewery, Seo Bok-seob, a Korean Judo Black Belt, was so impressed by his self-defense skills that he invited him to teach at a makeshift Dojang that he created on the premises for that purpose. In this way, Seo Bok-seob became Choi Yong-sool’s first student. Later Choi became a bodyguard to Seo’s father who was an important congressman in Daegu. The art gradually became popular and many Koreans trained with him, including Ji Han Jae.

Ji Han Jae

Ji Han Jae is undoubtedly the prime mover in the art of Korean Hapkido. It is due to both his technical contributions, promotional efforts and political connections as head Hapkido instructor to the presidential body guard under president Park Jung Hee that Hapkido became popularized, first within Korea and then internationally.

Whereas the martial art education of Choi Yong Sul is not recorded with such detail, the martial art history of Ji Han Jae’s training is somewhat easier to trace. Ji was an early student of Choi. He details that prior to opening his martial art school in Seoul, the Sung Moo Kwan, he also studied from a man known simply as Taoist Lee and a old woman he only knew as ‘Grandma’.

As a teacher of Hapkido, Ji incorporated traditional Korean kicking and punching techniques into the system and gave the resulting synthesis the name Hapkido in 1957. Ji Han Jae asserts that it was he that first used the term ‘Hapkido’ to refer to the art.

Although a founding member of the Dae Han Ki Do Hwe (Korea Kido Association) in 1963 with Choi Yong Sool acting as official Chairman and Kim Jung-Yoon as Secretary General and Head Instructor for the association Ji found himself not able to exert as much control over the organization as he might have wished. To this end and with the support of the Head of the Security Forces, Park Jong-Kyu, Ji founded the very successful Dae Han Hapkido Association (Dae Han Hapkido Hyub Hwe) in 1965. This organisation later combined with the Korean Associations and in 1973 became the extensive and influential organisation known as the Republic of Korea Hapkido Association.

In 1984, Ji left Korea and moved first to Germany and then to the United States and founded Sin Moo Hapkido, which incorporates philosophical tenets, a specific series of techniques (including kicks) and healing techniques into the art.

Notable Students and Popular Culture

Tae Man Kwon and Myung Jae Nam were one of his most notable Korean students. Ji Han Jae can be seen in the films ‘Lady Kung-Fu’ and ‘Game of Death’ in which he takes part in a long fight scene against Bruce Lee.

Grandmaster Geoff J Booth

Geoff J.Booth has committed over 30 years of is life to the study and refinement of the martial arts. During his impressive martial arts career he has been a direct student of Ji Han Jae. Grandmaster Geoff J. Booth has achieved the rank of 8th Degree Black Belt in Kwan Nyom Hapkido and 9th Degree in Sin Moo Hapkido (awarded by Ji Han Jae) which makes him the highest ranked non-Korean Hapkidoist in Australia. He is also ranked in both Taekwondo and Southern Shaolin Tiger and Dragong Kung Fu.

Grandmaster Geoff has set a personal mission to pass on the traditional teachings of Hapkido with its emphasis on the overall development of each student’s mind, body and spirit. It is Grandmaster Geoff’s teaching method and structure of training that separates the International Hapkido Alliance from other Martial Arts Organisations.

Grandmaster Geoff J. Booth teaches and trains at his Dojang in Moorebank, NSW, Australia. He also spends time during the year visiting his schools overseas, (currently 41 international schools are part of the International Hapkido Alliance). Grandmaster Geoff is the Founder and Chief Instructor of the International Hapkido Alliance (IHA) and the Australian Hapkido Group (AHG). Over the years Grandmaster Geoff J. Booth has been recognized for many achievements.

Kwan Nyom Hapkido

School of Concepts – Korean
Kwan Nyom is the name given to the style or family of Hapkido taught by Grandmaster Geoff J. Booth’s schools across the world. The style was created in June 1999. Kwan Nyom reflects the teaching style of Hapkido – the core techniques are the same as most other traditional Hapkido schools, but it is the teaching method that makes the style unique.

Traditionally Hapkido is taught as set responses to set grabs. Kwan Nyom Hapkido teaches students concepts that apply on a number of different grabs or attacks. This helps in real life self defence as you need to react in a situation that is not controlled or expected. Having an understanding of the concepts of self defence taught in the Kwan Nyom style of Hapkido means that you can apply whichever formula suits the situation, rather than trying to think what the technique should be against that particular type of attack.

Kwan Nyom Hapkido is simply one way to interpret and practice Hapkido, it is the culmination of Grandmaster Geoff’s desire to create a better way for students to learn. The process is simple with the focus for the Color Belt curriculum being on the very practical use of Hapkido for self defence – this is shown through the concepts, strikes, and falling that are taught.

At Black Belt students continue to study a set curriculum but also get the opportunity to study the different variation aspects of Hapkido in depth. Each Black Belt degree has as a requirement miscellaneous variation techniques which are added to the Black Belt’s studies, this continues the Kwan Nyom path whilst preserving some of the more traditional aspects.

( * Some of the above information is taken from Wikipedia – www.wikipedia.org )


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