One should understand that martial art techniques are not invented or created by a certain individual. Τhey have been developed rather as a part of the history of a nation. Just as wrestling, boxing and fencing are the unique sports of competition in the western world, Taekwondo, Yudo, Kumdo, along with Hapkido, have been developed through the long history of oriental countries.
Hapkido was introduced to Korea along with Buddhism. Hapkido techniques were originally known and handed downthrough the hierarchy of monks, ruling families and royal officials, as a means of self-protection. Therefore it wasn’t known among the common classes. Often the origin of Hapkido is misunderstood and thought to be a form of Chinese or Japanese martial art.
The more completely recorded history of Hapkido dates back as early as the era of The Tree Kingdoms (3rd century A.D.). Buddhism arrived in China from India and was introduced to Korea in 372 A.D. Buddhism and Hapkido together became popular throughout the country among the upper class and royal court. The evidence of this fact can be found in various wall paintings.
One of the three kingdoms, Sel La, formed a special youth group called Hwa Rang Do. The purpose of Ηwa Rang Do was to train the future national leaders by means of stringent training, combining mental discipline, martial arts, and traditional scholarship.Fοr their physical fitness and mental discipline, Hapkido was taught.
The three kingdoms united and became the Koryo Dynasty. During this period throughout the ruling generations of many kings, Hapkido experts were bought into the palace and performed demonstrations of the martial arts. In the subsequent Lee Dynasty, king JungJo ordered Duk Moo Lee to write a book of martial art techniques. This book (Moo Yea Do Bo Tong Ji), contained detailed descriptions of empty handed techniques and of the use of weapons (dagger, sword, club, pole, spear, rope, stone, etc.) for attack and defense purposes.
A monk, grandmaster Su-San taught Hapkido to the monks and fought against the Japanese invasion. This was a prime example of Hapkido applied on a grand scale. Hapkido flourished through several dynasties, until the time it lost its popularity, due to the decline of Buddhism and its subsequent replacement by Confucianism. Confucianism, which respects scholarly discipline and looks down upon physical force or martial arts, led to a change in philosophies, and Hapkido disappeared among the general population and barely survived among the individual masters, monks and royal families, and here only as a secret self-defense.
Today Hapkido has been brought to light by the father of Hapkido, Yong Sool Choi (1904 -1986). Yong Sool Choi had studied Hapkido since the age of nine. Choi has taught all the techniques to a few outstanding disciples. In turn, these disciples were in the process of popularizing Hapkido techniques during the Korean conflict in 1950. After this, Hapkido started spreading. Within a few years, Hapkido had been popularized internationally with a tempo unseen in its history. This was accomplished only by the means of demonstations by top masters in various countries throughout the world.
Today, one cannot find a single city in Κοreawithout Hapkido schools. All the government organizations, all military academies and special military units, have Hapkido practitioners, totaling one million already. Among foreign countries such as the U.S.A, West Germany, Canada, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, China, France and greece, there is a solid foundation of Hapkido schools. This rapid spread and popularization is attributed to the unceasing efforts of the master instructors and the superior and unique nature of Hapkido itself.