HAP - Harmony of mind, body and spirit 
KI - Energy of body and life 
DO - The way of learning, doing and living


There are various accounts of the origins of Hapkido, some contradictory, some without collaboration or just based on oral commentary. While it is nearly impossible to validate or discount any of these accounts they all share a common thread.

Hapkido was founded by Grandmaster Choi, Yong Sul (1904-1986), who was taken as a small boy from Korea to Japan.  He grew up in Japan learning a form of Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu under Sokaku Takeda (1859-1943).

It is uncertain as to the actual relationship Grandmaster Choi shared with the head of Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu, as to whether he was a man servant or adopted son. After the death of Sokaku Takeda, Grandmaster Choi returned to Korea. But on returning to Korea, Grandmaster Choi's luggage was lost, containing all certificates and verification of his training with Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu.

In 1948, Grandmaster Choi started his first classes with pupil Suh, Bok Sup, the manager of a brewery where Grandmaster Choi was employed. By chance, Suh, Bok Sup witnessed an altercation between Grandmaster Choi and some others outside the brewery, realising that Grandmaster Choi was a master of form unknown to him, he requested Grandmaster Choi to teach him, thus the humble beginnings of the first hapkido school.


While Hapkido acknowledges its Japanese origins, Hapkido itself has evolved to become a uniquely Korean martial art. There is a lot of controversy as to the origins of Hapkido and even to the claims of Grandmaster Choi's training, but these arguments cannot detract from the ideals, techniques and spirit of Hapkido.

There are obvious comparisons to Jujitsu and other martial arts like Aikido (founded by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) another famous student of Sokaku Takeda) Hapkido differentiates itself by the use of weapons, kicks and strikes employed so effectively in the art, different from its Japanese counterparts.