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History of Hapkido

Hapkido is the most treasured martial art and not sport created during ancient Korea over 2000 years ago during the DunKun period. However, the exact history of Hapkido has been written in various versions by many independent organizations and schools. The actual history records have been collected and published by Korea Hapkido Federation, but were never released in public.

Hapkido was created as a form of military fighting art in ancient Korea during the Era of the three kingdoms (Sam Kuk Si Dae), but it was not named during that time. There were three dynasties during that time, and they were Kokuryo, PaeChae and Silla dynasty. After the unification of the three dynasties, the Koryo was found thereafter. After the unification, Kokuryo migrated to China and the Silla and PaeChae migrated to Japan .

The Hapkido was created and found by the PaeChae dynasty and it was generally taught to the Imperial guards, Royal officials and Noble families. The warriors or knights of the PaeChae dynasty were known as the SamRang and the Silla were known as the HwaRang.

After migration to Japan during the Kamajula period of ancient Japan , a warrior of the SamRang known as Won IL Kwan settled down in Japan and changed their name to the Takeda clan. He was later approached by a man called Miyamoto Mushashi to teach him the art of Hapkido. Soon he became the top warrior in Japan and re-taught what he has learnt back to the Takeda clan descendant and he was known as Takeda Sogoku (also known as Won Jung Wui).

Takeda Sogoku soon went around the entire of Japan to fight with the best fighters and masters. He soon was announced as the top martial artist in the entire of Japan and named the art as Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu. He started his own school and taught many students, but one of his top students was a Korean orphan whom he adopt at the age of nine (9); he is known as Choi Yong Sool (who later changed his name to Yoshida).

During those days, many people came to train under his guidance. One of his students was known as Moreihei Uyeshiba who later found his own art known today as Aikido. Moreihei learnt the principle of the Won (the circular motion and techniques) of Hapkido and left to pursue his own research along with his spiritual religion.

Choi Yong Sool soon became his master's assistant instructor to teach and demonstrate the art. Takeda Sogoku & Choi Yong Sool both were soon summoned to teach the Japanese Imperial Military for the war. When Japan knew that they are losing their war, Takeda Sogoku ends his life through hunger. Before he died, he advised his student Choi Yong Sool to return to Korea fearing he would be assassinated by his enemies after his death. Choi Yong Sool left Japan and returned to Korea and settled down in Taegu .

In 1943, Choi Yong Sool started teaching the art he learnt and named his art as Yawara before changing it to Yu Sul (meaning soft style). From Yu Sul, he changed it to Hap Ki Yu Sul and finally Hap Ki Yu Kwon Sul. During his days of teaching, he taught many students and one of his top students was Ji Han Jae. Ji Han Jae was his top student and soon started his own school known as Ahn Moo Kwan. Shortly, he changed his school name to Song Moo Kwan after moving to Seoul .

In 1956, he advised his master to adopt a better name rather than the longer name. After having his master's blessing, he named the art as Hapkido which is known till date. He later found his first association and it was known as Dae Han Hapkido Hae (Korea Hapkido Association). He was later summoned by the President of Korea Park Chung Hee to teach all the bodyguards and KCIA the art of Hapkido. Sometime in 1964, he was called upon to conduct Hapkido training to the Korean Military Forces and US Special Forces in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Along with him teaching were top masters like Kim Duk In, Kim Jin Pal, Myong Kwan Sik and etc. Sometime in the mid 1960's, the Korean government selected the first governing and certification body of Korean Hapkido, and it was known as Dae Han Hapkido Hyup Hwe (Korea Hapkido Federation).

The Korea Hapkido Federation was chaired by President Oh Se Lim who was the personal and close bodyguard of the Korea President Park Chung Hee. The Korea Hapkido Federation was rather strict on their standard and quality towards all Hapkido practitioners. The syllabus of Hapkido was then published (but never released in public) sometime in 1972 (or earlier), and all Hapkido students are to be taught the actual authentic way of Hapkido past down traditionally.

In Korea , not many people are able to accomplished the art because to the stressful and strenuous training of Hapkido. This goes without saying for people outside of Korea where many could not bear the strenuous training program of Korea Hapkido Federation. The Korea Hapkido Federation great masters like Oh Se Lim, Kim Duk In, Kim Beom, Gimm June, Kim Nam Je and etc, weren't keen and concern about money. It is the quality and the superior standard of original Hapkido they are concerned. As such, not many people from overseas were able to pass the grades of Korea Hapkido Federation. Therefore, many joined the independent organizations and schools to get themselves certified instead.

Till date, the Korea Hapkido Federation remains as the only main governing and certification body of Hapkido in Korea . Their rules and regulations were so strict that, irregardless of what ranking one may be applying must go through the entire training program and access accordingly.

Hapkido History Lineage


  • Hapkido way of combat was developed since the DunKun period during ancient Korea . However, it was never named as Hapkido during that time.
  • The era of the three kingdoms was found and they were the Kokuryo dynasty; PaeChae dynasty and the Silla dynasty.
  • Unification of the three kingdoms and the Koryo dynasty was formed.
  • All the three dynasties fled and migrated away from Korea . The Kokuryo migrated to China ; PaeChae migrated to Japan and the Silla also migrated to Japan.
  • PaeChae dynasty warrior known as the SamRang settled down in Japan .
  • A warrior of the SamRang known as Won IL Kwan taught the Japan greatest swordsman Miyamoto Mushashi the combat system of Hapkido during the Kamajula period of ancient Japan .
  • Miyamoto Mushashi later re-taught the fighting system back to the descendents of the Won which they have changed their clan to the Takeda clan after settling down in Japan .
  • The fighting system was finally taught to Takeda Sogoku (Korean name is known as Won Jung Wui).
  • Takeda Sogoku began to name his fighting system as Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu.
  • Takeda Sogoku adopted a Korean orphan in sometime 1913. The boy was then age nine (9) and he was known as Choi Yong Sool whom later changed his name to Yoshida.
  • Takeda Sogoku taught many students and one of his students was known as Moreihei Uyeshiba who then later found his own art known as Aikido.
  • Sometime in 1943, Takeda Sogoku died through hunger after knowing that Japan is loosing the war. Before his death, he advised his top student Yoshida (also known as Choi Yong Sool) to return to Korea fearing that he would be assassinated after his death.
  • Yoshida returned to Korea and changed his name back to Choi Yong Sool. He began to teach his art that he has attained from his master and it was known as Yawara.
  • Subject to the fact that it was a very Japanese name, he re-changed his art name to Yu Sul, then to Hap Ki Yu Sul and finally settling it as Hap Ki Yu Kwon Sul.
  • During the early days, Choi Yong Sool had many students, and one of his top students was known as Ji Han Jae.
  • Ji Han Jae later started teaching at his own school and it was known as Ahn Mu Kwan and later changed it to Song Mu Kwan after settling down in Seoul .
  • During his days of teaching he taught many top masters. They were names like: Kim Duk In; Kim Jin Pal; Kim Nam Je; Oh Se Lim and etc.
  • Sometime in 1956, Ji Han Jae found a better name and got his master's blessing to adopt the name. Finally the name Hapkido was adopted and used till date.
  • Ji Han Jae created many techniques apart from what he was taught. There were generally many kicks and strikes techniques along with joint locks and throws techniques.
  • Ji Han Jae began to register his own organization and it was known as Dae Han Hapkido Hae (also known as Korea Hapkido Association).
  • Sometime in 1965, the Korea government selected the main governing and certification body for Hapkido. It was chaired by President Oh Se Lim and it was known as Dae Han Hapkido Hyup Hwe (Korea Hapkido Federation).
  • During the early 1960's, most of the Korean Hapkido masters were summoned to assist and teach the fighting system of Hapkido to the U.S. Army, South Vietnamese Army and their own Korea Special Forces in Vietnam.
  • Sometime in 1980, Ji Han Jae left Korea and settled down in the U.S.A. He began to name his own new school as Sin Moo Kwan Hapkido.
  • Till date, all the original syllabuses of Hapkido where still taught and kept by Korea Hapkido Federation and its authorized Kwans or schools in Korea . These syllabuses can be taught and trained by top masters of the Korea Hapkido Federation. They are names like: Grandmaster Kim Duk In; Grandmaster Kim Nam Je; Grandmaster Kim Myung Lyong, Grandmaster Lee Chang Soo and etc.


What you need to know


•  Founder of the art Hapkido was Choi Yong Sool.

•  Founder of the name Hapkido and modern Hapkido system is known as Ji Han Jae.

•  First Hapkido School in Korea was known as Song Mu Kwan.

•  First association of Hapkido was known as Korea Hapkido Association before it was disband and closed down in the late 1970's.

•  The first government selected governing and certification body for Hapkido in Korea was known as Korea Hapkido Federation, chaired by President Oh Se Lim.

•  The main gym and training center of Korea Hapkido Federation is known as Kyung Mu Kwan (Kyung means Capital and Central).


The Core Value Of Hapkido Singapore


H = Harmony within Hapkido and other styles martial art family.

A = Accept & adapt ideals and other martial arts style.

P = Preserve the teaching and syllabus of the original traditional Hapkido of Korea Hapkido Federation and the master whom have taught you.

K = Keep out and stay away from all forms of organization politic issue.

I = Innovate and constant improve in techniques, tactics, management and facility etc.

D = Deliver all positive teaching on Hapkido, philosophy and culture etc to improve and build a superior community.

O = Offer help to the elderly, weak and the poor in a positive manner.


Understanding the Teaching of Hapkido in Korea


Many people have the wrong ideal that training in Korea will enable one to be superior and dynamic on techniques and tactics etc. In fact, to learn and trained in Korea will improve one not only just that, but a lot more than what they least expected. However, it is for one to accept the hardcore, stressful and strenuous training they will receive while training in Korea .

Many people have tried to get themselves affiliated to Korea Hapkido Federation in Seoul , Korea by undergoing some training course there. I must say, many drop out from the training subject to the fact that the training provided in Korea was entirely different in many ways. Of course some will get an easy way out by joining an independent school or Kwan in or outside of Korea to get themselves certified by Korea Hapkido Federation. Less did they know that this form of recognition is just short-life recognition. Let me introduced you to the true form of training course in Korea under the appointed school or Kwan of Korea Hapkido Federation.

When you get to Seoul and check into a cheap hotel, the next thing you will head to KHF office. There you will be greeted by Director Lee Jae Hwan and Director Gimm June. Thereafter, you will be introduced to a most recognized school like Kyung Mu Kwan, Jin Jung Kwan and etc. Unless you already had a school in mind then it will be much simpler than (provided the school is an appointed training or Hapkido Academy by Korea Hapkido Federation). For example me myself, I was originally trained constantly under Grandmaster Kim Nam Je (founder of Kyung Mu Kwan & International Training Education Chairman of KHF).

Now let me code you some examples of how the training is like in Korea . If you are going for a 2 weeks training course under Grandmaster Kim Nam Je, it will be a very hardcore and no joking matter.

You will get up from bed and be at the gym by 10:00 a.m. and get yourself changed into your uniform. There you will be easily treated with 10 minutes of warming up and stretching exercise before the fun being. You will enjoy front snap kick on the spot with both legs non-stop for almost 5 minutes, then you will execute Tan Jon breathing exercise. Next you will execute about 10 different types of kick techniques. Each technique you will be drilled for 50 kicks non-stop each leg. Next you will execute hand strikes techniques about 4 types at around 50 strikes with each hand on each technique. Then you will be taught around 4 techniques on Ho Sin Sul with constant drills for almost 30 minutes. Finally, you will enjoy about 100 full push-up, 200 sit-ups, 3 sets of 1 minute leg raise, 50 backward push-ups, 30 fingers press push-ups and lastly tuck jumps. The tuck jump is the most unforgettable workout among all and it is hell. We will start off with 50 jumps, then 49, 48, 47 and so-on until the final set where you will do one (1) jump. By the time you have reached the 4 th set, I must say, you will be jumping up around less than 2 cm high.

Now you will beak for lunch and be back at the gym after 2 hours. Now the whole same routine starts again for the next 1 hour. That is not all because in Korea , every hour there will be training session for various groups of students. You will join-in the class and carry-on the entire training procedure till the last class session that is around 8:00 p.m. You should end your training at around 9:00 or 9:30 p.m. There you will pack up and catch a bus back to your hotel and have your dinner in your room instead. This form of training will go on till 2 days before your entire trip end.

After much training with Grandmaster Kim Nam Je and understanding from the seniors like Master Gimm June, Lee Jae Hwan and etc; you will know that Hapkido is not a simple form of art. It needs many hard training, drills, pain and sweat. To achieve a good standard and attain a good quality of Hapkido, you have to train really very hard with all the basics ranging from white belt to black belt syllabuses. Besides just training, one has to also try to learn Korean culture and philosophy and understand the way of life of the Koreans.

From there is finally understand that Hapkido is a life-time learning art and it is not just a combat art by a guide towards your life. Many great masters like Kim Nam Je, Kim Duk In, Lee Jae Hwan, Gimm June and of course President Oh Se Lim has set an example towards many Hapkido practitioners in Korea and internationally. It is not about money and it is not about business etc. It is about the passion, harmony among each other, respect and honesty etc. As time goes by constantly staying in Korea to be trained by them, I discovered that I have found and increase in my peace in mind and patients.

After many trips and training in Korea over the years, I find that I can't be bothered by what others want to do to me or even bad mouth me. The only thing that kept me going is to keep up with my training and fitness. I have learnt to ignore what others have done to me and also realized my own mistakes when I was younger. Grandmaster Kim Nam Je is like a father among all his students. He always says, "Do not feel hurt when others talk evil. This is because it is just verbal and it can't cause any form of harm to your body". Master Gimm June also said, "To realize what others wants to do and say, you must realize your own self first". Hapkido is family and Hapkido is not about just fighting and how well one can fight. Hapkido is for life because all techniques all meant for various ages. The Ki Bon (Basic) is the most critical because if one is no good with that, then, whatever techniques he/she will not be able to achieve a high standard.

From here, I hope you readers will realize that Hapkido is not what you and I have been thinking and pursuing, and that is techniques. Hapkido is more than just techniques and it definitely will help one person to lead a better way of life and work towards anything. If you are still a techniques collector or a certificate chaser, then I must say, you are missing a lot of things in life and it's time to change for better. Family is important and Hapkido is our family. So I sincerely hope all can stay unite and avoid falling prey by marketing masters.


Master Anthony Low Hapkido Journey


  • The first Hapkido School in Singapore was known as Korea Flying Eagle Hapkido Association of Singapore chaired by Grandmaster Sunny Tan Sar Bee.
  • Master Anthony Low started learning Hapkido and his first instructor was known as Mervyn Tan Chye Long.
  • Master Anthony Low carry-on study Hapkido under Jack Wong and Tony Goh after his instructor left for London to further his studies.
  • Master Anthony Low then assists his instructor Tony Goh to teach Hapkido at Jalan Kayu Community Center .
  • Master Anthony Low later started his own school but it was not named then.
  • Master Anthony Low started to further his Hapkido knowledge under Grandmaster Sunny Tan Sar Bee.
  • Later, he assists his master to teach Hapkido in his school.
  • Grandmaster Sunny Tan Sar Bee then later re-named his school and art as Flying Eagle Bong Korean Hapkido apart from the original name Korea Flying Eagle Hapkido.
  • Master Anthony Low left his master's school subject to the fact that Flying Eagle Bong Korean Hapkido is a newly created style of art which is entirely different from the old original syllabus taught. It has a total changed which is more towards Wrestling and TaeKwonDo and of course not forgetting the New Zealand Hakka (Tribal warrior dance); rather than the original way of Hapkido as it was in the old days.
  • Master Anthony Low then left for Korea to pursue his journey and search for better knowledge in Korea Hapkido.
  • Later he went to Colorado Springs , USA on an invitation to teach Hapkido.
  • Master Anthony Low returned to Singapore and started to reform his school and it was finally named as Intercepting Hapkido dojang.
  • Master Anthony Low returned to Korea to further train and attained higher knowledge in Hapkido under Grandmaster Kim Nam Je of Korea Hapkido Federation.
  • Master Anthony Low was then certified a 5th Dan Black Belt by Korea Hapkido Federation and was also selected and appointed as Director/ Representative for Korea Hapkido Federation in the Singapore region.
  • Later Master Anthony Low went to train under Grandmaster Chae In Kil at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Headquarter and successfully passed and certified for Police Arrest and Baton Tactics.
  • Master Anthony Low was invited by the Police Special Forces to conduct special training to the officers.
  • Master Anthony Low then later taught Jackie Ng the system and concept of Hapkido. He then also brought him along to Korea for further train and Jackie Ng was accessed and recommended 2 nd Dan Black Belt by Master Anthony Low.
  • Master Anthony Low also undergoes another intensive training under his master Grandmaster Kim Nam Je. He was then certified to have completed the Master Level course and was certified Master Level by Korea Hapkido Federation. He was also given the title of KwanJangNim of his own school.
  • Master Anthony Low then registered his own organization for Hapkido in Singapore and it was known as Hapkido of Singapore. He was also appointed by People's Association as qualified trainer in Hapkido.
  • Till date, Master Anthony Low still trains himself and is constantly promoting Korea Hapkido Federation. His wish for Hapkido is to unify all valid Hapkido schools and practitioners in Singapore as one united family and that one day, Hapkido will be in the Olympics.


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