Shinsei History

Where It All Started

 There was unrest in Korea. The First Republic was overthrown by widespread protests known as the "April Revolution" in April 1960. After its fall, power was briefly held by an interim administration under Heo Jeong. A new parliamentary election was held on 29 July 1960. The Democratic Party, which had been in the opposition during the First Republic, easily gained power and the Second Republic was established.


The Second Republic saw the end of the severe curbs on political expression that had been in place under the Rhee regime. As a result, freedom returned, and with it came an increase in political activity. Much of this activity was from leftist and student groups, which had been instrumental in the overthrow of the First Republic. 


Union membership and activity grew rapidly during the later months of 1960. Around 2,000 demonstrations were held during the eight months of the Second Republic.Under pressure from the left, the Chang government carried out a series of purges of military and police officials who had been involved in anti-democratic activities or corruption. A Special Law to this effect was passed on 31 October 1960.In this time of purging, many highly ranked military officers, special forces, and presidential guards fled for their lives and found refuge in the U.S. 


Some of these became the pillars of Hapkido. These men were Ji Han Jae, Kie-Duk Lee, Bon So Han, Byung Kyu Park, and others. After settling in Indianapolis and starting a school, Master Park reached out to other friends and Hapkido teachers in the area. At that time Kie-Duk Lee was teaching in Bloomington IN, just a few miles away. Master park aligned himself with Master Lee and joined the U.S. Hap Ki Do Association. 


At that time the lineage of Hapkido was virtually unchanged from its Aiki justu roots. The line of teaching went from Sokaku Takeda, the Aiki Justu master, to Young Sul Choi, who took the art to Korea. Choi taught Kie-Duk Lee, who, along with Master Park brought the art to the U.S. In the late 1960's Master Park joined his friend, Kie-Duk Lee and the U.S. Hap Ki Do Association, adding that prestigious lineage to his own. The gup certificate below is provided by Shane Miller from the Hap Ki Do school of Byung Kyu Park and shows Master Lee as the chairman of the association with Master Park's signature as the chief instructor. His was possibly one of the last certificates awarded before the school closed.


In the past it appears Master Park was trained by Myung, according to In Sun Seo. Before Hapkido came to the U.S. it was common for most of the masters to have trained together, as most were part of the same military arm. The Blue House Division protected the president and his wife. The White Horse Division was one of the highly trained special operations divisions. Although we have no records to confirm it, Master Park was likely part of the Blue House Division, along with other masters of Hap Ki Do. Those masters who were part of the presidential guard fled for their lives during the purge brought about by the April Revolution, after the president they protected was deposed. We base this on the fact that when Mr. Park fled Korea the government tracked down and held his family in an attempt to force him to come back to Korea. The government would not have done this if Mr. Park was not in an important position. In the early 1980's Master Park retired due to health issues and moved to Oxnard, CA.

Original Hapkido Masters in Korea

At our Facebook page, you see  some of the original Hapkido masters from Korea.


From top left to right: Myung Jae-Nam, Unknown, Hwal Bok, Yum Jong-Ho,Kim Jong-Taek, Kim Jong-Jin, Unknown, Unknown, Kim Hung-Su, Unknown. From bottom left to right: ??, Lee Tae-Jun, Myung Kwang-Sik, Han Bong Soo,Choi Yong-Sul,Ji Han-Jae, Song Young-Ki, Kim Deok-In, Kwon Tae-Man, ??


Master Byung Kyu Park taught in the city of Indianapolis from the late 1960's to the early 1980's. His first class consisted of a few men who had black belts in other styles, whom he could instruct in Hapkido, integrating them quickly into the art of Hapkido to assist him in spreading this new art in the U.S. Jim Hiner was chosen and one of these men. 

Master Byung (Byong) Kyu Park 1972

Please note that in attempting to transliterate Korean names phonetic variations occur. The symbols rendered as Byung, Byong, Ryung, and Ryong.

This powerful and intense master related to me the story of his service as the bodyguard and agent protecting the Korean president and his wife. He spoke of problems with the Korean government and his separation from his family. Master Park also stated that he was sent to the U.S. by his teacher to spread the art of Hapkido. He taught in Indianapolis, Indiana until his relocation to California where he now teaches acupuncture at a university. My teacher, James Hiner, and I were privileged to have known and learned from Master Park during his years in the U.S. in the 1970's.
As we continued to search for pictures or witnesses to verify Master Park's lineage we had the great privilege of having the input of Grandmaster In Sun Seo. 
Grandmaster Seo writes through his daughter, Sara in the following explaination.
"GM thinks the name is Park, Byong Kyu and when I told him that your style has lots of Japanese influence, GM believes your master is the lineage from GM Myong, Jae Nam(deceased). GM explained that in the early 1970's, GM Myong formed an alliance with Aikido organization in Japan and formed "International Hapkido Federation" and this lineage does the techniques just like the Japanese. GM Seo knew GM Myong very, very well and feels that your Master Park is from this line and therefore is legitimate practitioner." 

A tremendously essential figure in the development of Hapkido as it is practiced within the Shinsei Kwan is Myung, Jae Nam. Myung was born on 31 December 1938. He began training in Hapkdio in 1958, training along side and with influential men. One of these men was Ji, Han Jae. Myung, Jae Nam trained with him at Ji's Joong Boo Si Jang studio in Seoul. He trained next to several other influential Hapkido Masters, including Han, Bong Soo and Choi, Sea Ho. Myung was one of the original Masters on the board of directors of the Korea Hapkido Association and was awarded his 8th Dan in 1972. In 1965, Myung, Jae Nam was the only master of Hapkido to heartily welcome a Japanese Aikido instructor, Hirata Sensei, who was touring Korea. Most of the Korean masters offered a less than warm reception for a visiting Japanese Sensei, primarily due to the Korean's distaste for the Japanese due to Japanese occupation. Myung, realizing that Hapkido originated from a Japanese style, not from the Hwa Rang Warriors as oft times falsely claimed, received this instructor and, for the next several years, Myung exchanged techniques with Hirata Sensei. Myung eventually formed an alliance with Japanese Aikikai. In 1969, when Grandmaster Myung formed his own organization and named it, Han Kuk Hapkisool Hae. The rank certificates he issued had the name of Aikido's founder, Uyeshiba Morihei on them in association with his own. He took hapkido "back to its roots". From 1969 until his death in 1999, Myung, Jae Nam was the Korean representative for Aikikai. In his version of Hapkido there are many Aikido based techniques, and far less kicks, especially the higher ones, than Sin Moo hapkido. Grandmaster Myung trained many hapkido practitioners here in Nam Choson. Park, Byong Kyu, a hapkido practitioner with a strong Aiki influence in his techniques, was influenced greatly by the training and teaching of Grandmaster Myung. Seo, In Sun, a lifelong friend of Grandmaster Myung, highly respected his friend and his style of Hapkido. This is one of the reasons that the Shinsei Kwan of Hapkido, as it was taught by Park, Byong Kyu, who was under Myung, is now aligned with the World Kido Federation, under the Direction of Grandmaster Seo, In Sun. 

Compiled by Dr. Daryl R. Covington Shinse Hapkido Itaewon 2-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South KoreaThe following articles may explain Master Park's place in the history of Hapkido. 
Joseph Lumpkin 

Shinsei Hapkido was developed from the Hapkido taught by Choi, Yong Sul, which was his version of Aiki-Jutsu. Shinsei Hapkido traces its roots through generations from Choi. Those generations are Choi through Ji Han Jea and Myong, Jae Nam to Master Park, then to James Hiner and Joseph Lumpkin. In those few generations little was altered. Shinsei Kwan has only a dozen soft style kicks. As you will read, this could narrow the space of our lineage to only a few years. This is explained in the article below. 
After Choi began his art, kicks were learned from monks in the area. These soft kicks came after Choi first started teaching. Shinsei does not contain the high, aggressive kicks added by Ji Han Jae toward the end of the development of Hapkido, but instead Shinsei adheres more to its Aiki roots. Kicks are simple and low. In Shinsei, grappling, four basic hard kicks, and four hard strikes were added to round out Shinsei Hapkido into a complete art for all circumstances. 

Shinsei Hapkido retains its Aiki-jutsu-like qualities as it was taught by Choi in the earlier form of Hapkido as well as an Aikido like quality as taught by Myung. The Shinsei system is taught by theory and philosophy which are demonstrated through technique. In this way each person must understand and develop the art within themselves. Only after the student shows he or she has internalized the concepts of the art can a black belt be awarded. 
The philosophy is a simple one. It can be summed up in three words.

Evade - Invade - Control

There may be thousands of techniques, but there are only a few theories and philosophies at work. If these are understood the art simply becomes a real-time application of these principles. 
(MOVE AS I MAY, I MANIFEST THE ANCIENT WAYS! Lao Tzu) 
For insight into the early years of Hapkido, we turn to Choi's own words. 

The following is taken from an interview with Hapkido Grandmaster 
Choi, Yong Sul(1904-1986)done in 1982.

Mr. Choi, the founder and Grandmaster of Korean Hapkido, discussed his personal history in an interview given during his visit to the United States in June of 1982. 

Mr. Choi, under what circumstances did you come to live in Japan? 

When I was a child I lived in the village of Yong Dong in Choong Chung Province, Korea. At this time there were many Japanese people in my region because of the Japanese occupation of Korea. I became acquainted with a Mr. Morimoto, who was a Japanese businessman and candy store owner. Morimoto had no sons. When the time came for him to return to Japan he abducted me and took me with him to Japan, intending that I would become his son. I did not like this man and because of my constant protest and crying he abandoned me in the town of Moji soon after we came to Japan. From Moji, I traveled alone to Osaka. I soon gave myself up to despair and while crying and wandering aimlessly, I was picked up by the police. When the authorities found out that I had no family in Japan, they arranged for me to be cared for at a Buddhist temple. I lived there for about two years under the care of the monk Kintaro, Wadanabi. 

How old were you when you were abducted? 

I think about 8 years old. 

What circumstances placed you in the home of Takeda, Sokaku? 

While living in the temple, I was fascinated by murals of battles and paintings of famous martial arts scenes displayed throughout the temple. When the time came, Wadanabi asked me what direction I wanted my life to take. I immediately pointed to a scene on the wall depicting the martial arts and said this is what I want to be. Kintaro, Wadanabi was a close friend of Takeda, Sokaku and arranged my introduction to him. Takeda, Sokaku liked me and feeling great sympathy for my situation, decided to adopt me. Upon my adoption he gave me the Japanese name Asao, Yoshida. I was about 11 years old at this time. 

In what city was the Buddhist temple that was your home? 

Kyoto. 

In what area was Takeda, Sokaku’s home and dojang (school) located? 

His home and school were located on Shin Su Mountain in the area of Akeda. 

What was the nature of your training under Takeda, Sokaku? 

Takeda, Sokaku was the head of Daito Ryu Aiki-Jutsu. I lived in his home and learned under his personal direction for over 30 years. I was his constant student, and for twenty years of my training, I was secluded in his mountain home. 

Takeda was the teacher of the Japanese royal family. Were you personally involved in teaching the royal family? 

Yes, at that time I was my teachers and assistant in all of his instruction. While in Tokyo, we also taught high ranking government officials within the palace circle. Also, we traveled to various parts of Japan and taught select groups of people. 

Did you ever leave Japan with Master Takeda for any exhibitions or teaching outside of Japan? 

Yes, when I was about 28 years old it was arranged by politicians for my teacher and his most outstanding students to travel to Hawaii in order to give an exhibition tour. 

What was your personal status on this tour? 

I was the leader of the exhibition team under the direction of my teacher. 

How many people were on the exhibition team and can you recall the names of any of the participants? 

At the time of the Hawaiian tour there were five of us; Takeda, Sokaku, myself (Asao, Yoshida), Jintaro, Abida and two others whose names I cannot at this time recall. 

When you returned from Hawaii were there any significant changes in your life? 

No, we continued to tour and teach and at the same time I continued to learn through Master Takeda's instruction. 

How was your life affected by the outbreak of World War II? 

World War II changed things in many ways. My teacher and I worked for the government by capturing military deserters that would hide in the mountains near our home. We would return these men, unharmed, to the authorities. The most significant changes happened toward the end of the war. Japan was losing the war and in a last desperation effort the government instituted a special military draft that called up most of the prominent martial artists of the time. These highly trained people were conscripted into special guerrilla-type units that were dispersed throughout the war zone. All of the inner circle of Daito Ryu Aiki-Jutsu were drafted except Master Takeda and myself. Most were killed in the final fighting of the war. 

Why were you not drafted along with the others? 

I was going to be drafted but Takeda, Sokaku intervened. Through his status and influence, he had me hospitalized for minor surgery. This stopped the process of my conscription and prevented me from being drafted. He prevented me from being put into the war because he felt that if I was killed Daito Ryu Aiki-Jutsu would be lost in its completed form upon his death. 

How many separate techniques had Takeda, Sokaku developed and mastered in his system? 

3808. 

How many of these techniques have you personally mastered? 

Shortly before he died, my teacher informed me that I was the only student that he had schooled in all of his secrets and techniques. 

Do you know the circumstances of Takeda, Sokaku's death? 

Yes, he ended his life by refusing to eat. 

Why did he do that? 

Japan had never before been defeated in war. Takeda, Sokaku 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 personal responsibility in this defeat. Because of this strong feeling, he decided that his only honorable path was to end his life. 

Did Master Takeda make any final statements to you before his death? 

He said goodbye to me and spoke of my long time desire to return to Korea. He bid me to do so. He was concerned that because of my position in his household and because of my Korean heritage, that I would be assassinated if I remained in Japan. Had I remained after his death to succeed him, it would have been dangerous. 

When did you return to Korea? 

I returned, with my household, shortly after Takeda, Sokaku's death. 

Where in Korea did you settle? 

We settled in Taegu Kyung Buk Province. Here I established my first Korean dojang, and have made my home here ever since. After returning I changed my name back to Choi, Yong Sul and the name of my art to Hapkido. 

End of Interview 

Although I believe the statements given directly by Chio, it is good to glimpse historical and social situations at the time of the birth of Hapkido. For comment on the above interview we turn to an article published on the website of Scott Shaw. 

Yong Shul Choi, the founder of Hapkido, was born in the town of Yong Dong, Choong Chung Province, relatively near Taegue, South Korea in 1904. In 1909 Korea came under Japanese occupation. It is believed that Japanese troops took Young Shul Choi from his homeland at the age of seven to be assigned work in Japan. It was a very common practice, at this period of history, for the Japanese occupying forces to relocate young male Korean children to Japan for various types of labor. 

Hapkido's Founder, Yong Shul Choi, stated in an interview conducted shortly before his death in 1982 that he had been abducted by a candy store owner, Mr. Morimoto, and taken to Japan to be his son. As he did not like the man, he eventually escaped. 

The actual causation for his transport to Japan may never be proven. If a Mr. Morimoto had been the causation, it would have sadly been for him to be a laborer and not a son. 

As fate would have it, Choi eventually came to work for, Sokaku Takeda (1860-1943), the 32nd patriarch of Daito Ryu Aikijitsu. Takeda was forty-four years old at the time Choi, a seven year old boy, came to his service. Choi was given the Japanese name Yoshida, Asao. The first or given name Tatjuttsu which is propagated as being the name Choi used in Japan is not a valid Japanese name. Therefore, it is historically inaccurate to believe he went by this name, though this is the name that Choi, himself, told people he went by while in Japan. 

Takeda and Choi 

Choi, now living under the employee of Takeda in Hokkaido, was not treated as an adopted son by Takeda, as legend has led many Hapkido practitioners to believe. Choi, in fact, was simply an employee of Takeda. 

We must place this association into historical perspective to understand the relationship between Takeda and Choi. At this juncture of history, the Japanese viewed themselves as the "Divine race." Koreans were simply thought of as a conquered people. Takeda, perhaps came to be fond of Choi, but due to his cultural programming, he would never have accepted him as a son. 

Certainly, there were affluent individuals, of Korean descent, who lived in Japan during this period and were more readily assimilated in Japanese martial culture. Unfortunately, Choi did not possess this status and was forced to live a life supported by labor. 

Though it is impossible to say where this myth that Choi was the adopted child of Takeda was originally born, all of those who propagate this falsehood in the west base their knowledge upon one interview conducted with Choi in 1982. It may simply be that Choi's statements were misinterpreted or mistranslated in this interview, as the statement of him being the adopted son of Takeda was never mentioned in any media report in Korea. It must be emphasized that it is factually inaccurate to perpetuate the belief that Choi was the adopted son of Takeda. 

Takeda's own son, Tokimune Takeda, stated that he never knew Choi, Yong Shul. This may be explained by the fact that Takeda possessed two distinct households. Only one of which housed his family. Or, that Tokimune Takeda simply wanted to disavow Hapkido link to Daito Ryu due to cultural reasons. In any case, Japanese immigration records, of the late 1930's and early 1940's, list Choi, under his Japanese name, as an employee of Takeda. 

Choi remained in the employ of Takeda for thirty years until April 25, 1943 when Takeda died. At that point he took his leave from the house of Takeda and shortly thereafter returned to Taegue, Korea. 

It must be noted that there is no historic record of Choi ever being certified as a student or teacher of Daito Ryu. The myth that Choi lost his certificates while returning to Korea is a falsehood as there are in depth records of every Daito Ryu Aikijitsu student kept in Japan. Choi, by his Korean or Japanese name, was never listed as a student. This fact substantiates the relationship between Choi and Takeda. Choi, however, for decades was under the direct influence of the art. He obviously mastered its techniques. 


The Birth of Hapkido

As stated, Choi remained with Takeda for thirty years until Takeda's death. Relieved of his duties, Choi returned to Korea.   Choi's first student was a successful brewery manager named, Suh, Bok Sup. Prior to his study with Choi he had been awarded a 1st Dan Black Belt in Judo, under the direction of Korean Judo instructor, Choi, Yong Ho. In February of 1948, the twenty-four year old Suh witnessed Choi, who was then in his forties, get into a fight with several men. Choi rapidly devastated his opponents. Impressed with his technique, Suh summoned Choi to his office and inquired as to his style. This meeting eventually lead to Suh hiring Choi, who had previously been a poor rice cake seller and hog farmer since his return to Korea. Choi would teach Suh for several years privately, eventually also became a bodyguard for Suh's father, Suh, Dong Jin.   Suh, Bok Sup became instrumental in helping Choi open his first school of self defense, which was established in February of 1951. He also became his first Black Belt. Due to Suh's advanced understanding of Judo, Suh lent some of this knowledge to the system which later became known as Hapkido. Many of the basic sleeve grabs, shoulder grabs, and throws, used in Hapkido, can trace their origin to Judo.   The initial name of the system of self defense Choi taught was, Dae Dong Ryu Yu Sool. This is the Korean translation for Daito Ryu Jujitsu.   Initially, Choi taught his students a very pure form of Daito Ryu Aikijitsu. Many of the later students of Hapkido attempt to falsely date the origin of Hapkido to some ancient Korean art. This is historically inaccurate. Choi, himself, never made this claim.   As time progressed and other Korean martial art pioneers, such as General Hong Hi Choi (Taekwondo) and Hwang Kee (Tang Soo Do) were rediscovering and expanding upon the offensive nature of Tae Kyon, their discoveries influenced some of the advanced students of Choi, such as Ji, Han Jae, who slowly began to incorporate the very aggressive punching and kicking techniques into the overall understanding of Hapkido. Choi, himself, never taught kicking in association with Hapkido, however.   Hapkido's final criteria came through a slow testing period, as did the other martial art systems born on the newly independent Korean Peninsula. Even the name Hapkido went through various changes, including: Yu Kwon Sul, Yu Sool, Ho Shin Mu Do, and Bi Sool.   End of article