This Korean art is a form of self-defense, meaning “the way of coordinated power.” It has an emphasis on joint locks, throws, chokes, takedowns and focusing on pressure points, as well as kicking and punching, incorporating both “soft” and “hard” techniques. Hap Ki Do not only directs a certain attack, but also turns it back against the attacker, following through with offensive techniques.
Its roots trace back to the Hwa Rang warriors of the Silla Dynasty from 57 BC to 936 AD. It is thought to have been introduced to Korea through Buddhism around 372 AD.
In the CHO-SON dynasty (1392-1910), the collapse of Buddhism occurred along with its subsequent replacement by Confucianism. This led to the discouragement of studying martial arts and forced its practitioners to join the Buddhist monks isolated in their monasteries in the mountains. During this time, recurring war with Japan across the Korea Strait eventually led to the conquest of Korea by Japan. From 1910 to 1945, the Japanese ruled Korea.
The Japanese attempted to eliminate Korean culture with the goal of incorporating Korea entirely into the Japanese empire. At that time, the practice of martial arts in Korea was forbidden by the Japanese. But many Koreans began to learn their own arts from the Buddhist monks and practice them in secret.
After Korea gained back control of their country, this martial art was reintroduced by Yong Sool Choi. Before his death in 1987, he passed all his teachings of the techniques on to certain exceptional students, one being Ji Han Jae, who brought them back to Japan.