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Yong Sul Choi

Grading Stipulations

The Australian Hapkido Federation Inc is the only Australian Hapkido recognised by the Korea Hapkido Federation and Australian Martial Arts Industry Association. Dan recognition with the Korea Hapkido Federation is restricted in Australia to members of the Australian Hapkido Federation Inc'. Always ensure that your Instructor is accredited with the Martial Arts Industry Association or the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) which is organised through the Australian Sports Commission.

This Korean Martial Art of Self Defence evolved over thousands of years. It originated through the introduction of Buddhism in Korea in 3 A.D and was developed generation to generation by Royal families of Korea and Japan as their secret self defence. Hapkido means; HAP- circular harmony, KI- power or action, DO- way, execute; therefore- Circular Power Way.

It uses circular motion not to aggressively attack; rather to flow with the opponent; and to lead them to the advantage point where Hapkido joint twists, hitting, kicking and throwing take control of the opponent’s actions toward submission or smashing techniques.









HITTING- Hapkido uses; punching, hand strikes, back fist, hammer fist, finger striking on pressure points, fore arm strikes, elbows, knees and whole body striking.

KICKING- Hapkido uses; front, turning, side, crescent and axe kicks as basics (these kicks are also used as spinning reverse, on the spot jump kicks as well as running jump kicks). We also use; hook kick, whip kick, lower cross/ lower outer, low circular, low spinning reverse turning, low heel kick, foot stomping, knife foot thrust kick, scissor kicking (front / sides). Also the combination of speed kicks which is basically called flying kicking (commonly seen in International Taekwondo Tournaments). In all there are 50 basic types of kicks which vary in height and style of execution. For example, turning kick can be to head, body, thigh, knee or calf; could be front foot or back foot using stationary stance, sliding, walking forward or backward, on the spot jumping, running and jumping, or in a double kicking action).

JOINT TWISTING- Hapkido main syllabus is the application of manipulating the attackers joints and pressure points to overpower them to a state of submission. There are literally thousands of combinations of these techniques which are all simply dependant on the strength of the aggressor; the stronger the attack, the more it will hurt them. All techniques revolve around the centre of gravity and the circular motion applied. It also relies on the + (plus) & - (minus) principle; that is, if the attack is strong, you will use a soft approach to over come them; if the attack is weak, you may use a strong approach. Regardless, the joint and pressure point techniques are extremely effective and very painful.

THROWING- Many of the throwing techniques are also found in such Arts as Ju-Jitsu, Aikido and Judo. Hapkido joint techniques can easily be transformed into a throwing technique by the simple re- direction of the technique to manipulate the centre of gravity. Again there are many different throwing techniques.

FIXING- This is the finalisation of the above techniques; the submission holds. The first step to self defence is to avoid (punch, kick, grab, etc), the second step is to counter attack (hit, kick, attack pressure point, joint lock or throw). The final step is to secure the attacker in a submission hold to ensure your safety. At this point it may be possible adjust the lock to a Police lock to walk the opponent to another location (eg, outside, to the Police) or to knock out the opponent (in the case where there is more than one opponent). Again, the FIXING techniques are very effective and painful, if not dangerous to resist against

WEAPONRY- Hapkido uses; short stick, long stick, walking cane, nunchaku and double nunchaku, towel, belt, fan, against knife, against kendo. No metal weapons are used.  Weapons are taught at the Black Belt level, however are sometimes used as a class exercise.  

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“Mind like Water” is a theory used in Hapkido; it understands that water of a flowing river does not penetrate the rocks that are in a river, rather to flow around the rocks to achieve its goal. Therefore, part of the way of Hapkido is to flow like water to achieve its goal.

Another theory is “Mind like Moon.” This is the acknowledgment of the power of “Ki”, a spiritual source of energy within every one and every thing. Once fully understood, you find the ability of knowing what attack will be used by an opponent before they begin (example- attack from behind).

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Travelling Korean Buddist Monk teaches Yu Sul to Prince Sadsumi in Japan (date not specified)


Development of Aikijitsu by Prince Sadsumi (850-880AD)6th son of Japanese Emporor Seiwa

Known as Prince Teijun in Korea


First historic documentation of Aikijitsu with

Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (1056-1127AD; 6th generation descendant of Emporer Seiwa)


Minamoto family establishes Kamakura Shogunate forming the Kamakura Period in Japan (1192-1333AD) when samurai aristcrats governed the country.


Minamoto no Yoshimitsa eldest son, Yoshikiyo, moved from central clan where Takeda was chosen as the new family name.


Daito Ryu Aikijitsu was developed by the Takeda family and secretly passed through generations to Sogaku Takeda (32nd descentant of the family) who first taught Daito Ryu Aikijitsu to the public.



Yong Sul Choi is taught Diato Ryu Aikijitsu from 1915 to 1943.

(Morihei Ueshiba was a student of  Takeda for 7 years and later became the founder of Aikido)


Yong Sul Choi returns to Korea in 1943

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Yong Sul Choi (1904-1986) was the founder of the modern form of Hapkido. He was originally taught Daito Ryu Aikijitsu by Takeda Sogaku at Shin Si Mountain in the Akeda area of Japan between 1915 to April 1943 when Takeda died.

Yong Sul Chio lived in the Korean village of Yong Dong in the Choong Chung province as a boy. It was during this time of Japanese occupation in Korea that a Japanese businessman, Mr Morimoto, took Yong Sul Choi with him back to Japan to be his house boy, Choi was 8 years old.

Choi did not like this man. When they arrived in Japan Mr Morimoto abandoned Choi in Moji after his constant crying and protesting. Choi wandered to Osaka where local Police found him. They took him to a local Buddist temple and was cared for by a monk named Kintaro Wadanabi.

At the age of 11 years Choi was asked by Wadanabi what he wanted to do with his life. Choi responded by pointing to the murals on the walls of the temple illustrating Martials Arts. Wadanabi then introduced Choi to Takeda Sogaku who kept him as a house boy and later his manservant. Yong Sul Choi once said, “Takeda adopted me. Upon my adoption he gave me the Japanese name of Asao Yoshida”; although there are no known documents that support this.

Choi stayed with Takeda for 28 years until Takeda’s death in 1943 when the Japanese surrendered to the Allies at the end of WW2. Choi said, “Japan had never before been defeated in War. Takeda felt that a great shame and loss of face had been perpetrated on his ancestors by Japan’s defeat at the hands of the Allies. Being a man of leadership, he felt a strong responsibility in this defeat. Because of his strong feeling, he decided that his only honourable path was to end his life. Shortly before he died, my teacher informed me that I was the only student alive that he had schooled in all his secrets and techniques. He ended his life by refusing to eat.” Choi had learnt all 3808 techniques of Takeda’s Daito Ryu Aikijitsu.

In 1943 Choi returned to Korea and settled in Taehu, Kyung Buk province. He said, “There I established my first Korean Dojang, and have made my home there ever since. After returning I changed my name back to Choi, Yong Sul and the name of my art to Hapkido.”

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Yong Sul Chio (1904-1986) was the founder of the modern form of Hapkido. He was originally taught Daito Ryu Aikijitsu by Takeda Sogaku at Shin Si Mountain in the Akeda area of Japan between 1915 to April 1943 when Takeda died.

On his return from Japan, Choi first began teaching basic Daito Ryu Aikijitsu. Through time other Korean Martial artists such as General Hong Hi Choi (Teakwondo), and Hwang Kee (Tang Soo Do) were rediscovering and expanding upon the offensive nature of Tae Kyon. This influenced Choi and his early students, who slowly incorporated the aggressive punching and kicking techniques.

The final criteria of the art came through a slow testing period. The Art was also known by many different names; Yu Kwon Sul, Yu Sool, Ho Shin Mu Do, and Bi Sool. In 1963 the name and system of Hapkido became formalised.

Mr Choi was a very private man who was not interested in promoting himself. Ji Han Jae was a student of Choi. Ji began teaching Hapkido to the public in Seoul. He also trained the Korean Royal Guards. At this time, Taekwondo was considered the Korean national Martial Art and was quite cheap and easy to learn. Hapkido however was more difficult and expensive to learn, quite often the public could not enrol in Hapkido; the Hapkido teacher would only select people to teach.

Ji Han Jae was later convicted of fraud and was jailed for two years. After he was released he travelled to Germany to avoid political persecutions form the Korean opinionists. However the German life was not appropriate for him and he went to San Francisco in USA and slowly reclaimed his respect.

In 1973, he assisted to formulate the Korea Hapkido Association. At the time Choi, Dae Hoon was the President and Kim, Moo Hon was Secretary. By 1981 Ji Han Jae was President and Kim, Moo Hon was still Secretary (both students of Yong Sul Choi).

In 1985, a unification of Hapkido occurred in Korea and was called The Republic of Korea Hapkido Federation. English translation is Korea Hapkido Federation”. This is the only Hapkido recognised by the Korean Government today. The Federation does not recognise Ji Han Jae; he has awarded high dan certification in his own name to people through out the world without any real time graduation. The Korea Hapkido Federation will only recognised formally trained students who adhere to the fundamental grading times criteria;

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In 1974, 6th dan Master Sung Soo Lee emigrated to Australia after spending 2 years coaching the National Singapore Taekwondo as directed by Korea Taekwondo. Master Lee was 6th dan in both Taekwondo and Hapkido.

The first class to open in Australia was in Burwood, Sydney at the Police Citizens Club. The school name of Moohakkwan was adopted.

The first Hapkido Moohakkwan tournament was held at Marackville Council Hall on in 1977. A tournament was held each year.

1984 was the formation of the unicorprated Australian Hapkido Federation.

1985- 1 X 7th dan, 2X 3rd dan, 4 X 2nd dan, 11 X 1st dan black belts registered.

1991- The Australian Hapkido Federation (AHF)  revised its committee members to be; Sung Soo Lee (President), Peter Georgiou (Executive), Jeff Nguyen (Secretary), Dennis Glover (Tournament Director), Geoff Scully (Treasurer), Andrew Sands (Facility), John Fielder Gill (Public Relations) and Margret Nguyen (Assistant Secretary).

Other than the committee members, other instructors included Dale Eagling, Lachlan McMasters, Michael Leech, Paul Lodge, Andrew Crotty, Paul Walker, Peter Karakasianis, Nazie Boydoun, Ian Kneen, Scott Rowley, Darko Desic, Paul Shannon and Jim Chapel.

The first Hapkido tournament held under the new committee management was at the State Sports Centre, Homebush on 23/06/91. It included free sparring and demonstration events. The free sparring was loosely based on TKD rules, but also  included kicking to the leg 1/2 way down the shin to include lower cross kicking and low reverse turning kick, and throwing techniques that must have affected within 2 seconds where the referee would suspend the competition, regroup the competitors and continue the bout. The tournament was open to all martial arts. The demonstration title was won by Matt Maloy of the Central Coast.

Next was the Australian Hapkido Federation Interclub Tournament held at Granville South High School on 1/12/91. This gave the organisation an opportunity to improve its skills ready for the next open tournament in 1993. The 2nd Interclub tournament was held at Granville South High School on 29/11/92 where syllabus self defence was introduced and judged by its technical performance and execution.

The next tournament was the All Styles Open Tournament held at the State Sports Centre Homebush on 27/06/93. This was attended by Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Karate, Judo, as well as the Australia Hapkido "Association" (AHA) and a break away Hapkido class called "Street Lethal" who is now known as the Australia Hapkido Group (formally with AHA). Con Prasoulas from the AHA won the demonstration division. However, there were very few free sparring winners other than Hapkidoists.

The 1994 All Styles Open Tournament was held at the State Sports Centre Homebush on 17/07/94. However the tournament was cancelled due to a lack of competitors. Seemed that as almost no martial artists other than Hapkido won at the previous years tournament, the other styles were reluctant to compete.

On 29/07/94, the first Queensland instructor was appointed. he was Ma Hyung Joo who emigrated from Korea. He was formally a student of Sung Soo Lee while he was teaching in Seoul.

On 26/08/95, the 1995 Open Titles were held at the State Sports Centre Homebush and sponsored by Westfield Shopping Town Figtree. The majority of free sparring competitors were from AHF however there were two Taekwondo clubs.  The demonstration division was won this time by Bondi Taekwondo.

July 1996- The AHF visited the Korea Hapkido Federation in Seoul. Also trained with the Korea Hapkido Demonstration team.

11/09/97, The Australian Hapkido Federation becomes an Incorporated body under the Department of Fair Trade.

31/08/98, established its first internet website with CitySearch

XXXX Dale Eagling passes away. He was chief instructor for the majority of Taekwondo classes in Tasmania and Queensland. As a student of Master Sung Soo Lee, Master Lee to control of these classes for Grading examinations. At the same time he began holding Hapkido seminars. All Taekwondo classes enjoyed the experience and began learning and later teaching Hapkido.

1999- First overseas black belt recognised by AHF.  Registered blackbelts now;

1 X 9th dan, 1 X 5th dan, 10 X 4th dan, 17 X 3rd dan, 111 X 2nd dan, 224 X 1st dan, 293 X Bo dan

Federation schools;

NSW-12,    Vic- 3,    QLD- 6,    SA- 2,    TAS- 1,    WA-1,    Overseas- 8

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1st dan             to         2nd dan            1 & 1/2 years minimum then

2nd dan            to         3rd dan            2 & 1/2 years minimum then

3rd dan            to         4th dan             3 & 1/2 years minimum then

4th dan             to         5th dan             4 & 1/2 years minimum then

5th dan             to         6th dan             5 & 1/2 years minimum then

6th dan             to         7th dan             6 & 1/2 years minimum then     

7th dan             to         8th dan             7 & 1/2 years minimum then

8th dan             to         9th dan             8 & 1/2 years minimum

10th dan is awarded to the most senior student after the death of his Grand Master. Unfortunately many of Choi’s students claim to be the most suitable, thus the dissolvent of  the ONE Hapkido style and the evolvement of many Grand Masters and different styles.

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Special recognition is given to;

Master Sea Ho Choi- the first Hapkido Master to teach in America

Master Bong Soo Han- who brought Hapkido to movies with “Billy Jack 

Master Joo Bong Lee- an 8th dan student of Choi who formed Hwa Rang Do

Master Sung Soo Lee- who introduced Hapkido to Australia and is the only Korean Master to achieve 9th dan with both the Korea Hapkido Federation and the World Taekwondo Federation, Kukkiwon.

Written by;-

Andrew Sands

Korea Hapkido Federation 7th dan

Secretary/ Treasurer, Australian Hapkido Federation inc

International Taekwondo Jidokwan 7th dan

World Taekwondo Federation, Kukkiwon 6th dan

Secretary, Australian Taekwondo Jidokwan (Australia).

Ref;  Sung Soo Lee, Scott Shaw, Rim Jong- Bae, Joe Sheya and Mike Burke

(Page last updated on 3/01/2014)



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