Hapkido’s Founder

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Grandmaster Choi was born in the village of Yong-dong in the Ch’ungch’eong province of Korea. When he was about eight years old he met a Japanese businessman named Morimoto. Morimoto was a candy store owner. He and his wife had no sons so they took Choi back to Japan. Choi was at this time around 8 years old. Bok-Sup Suh indicates that they did so because Choi “was cute and his own family could not afford him.” Choi’s own interview describes the incident as an abduction.

(An interview of GM Choi can be found at this: link)

He was taken back to Japan, but protested and cried so much that he was abandoned in the town of Moji soon after they arrived in Japan. Choi traveled alone to Osaka, where he was picked up by the police and sent to a Buddhist temple in Kyoto where Kintaro Watanabe (aka. Wadanabi) cared for him. Choi stayed at the temple for two years and then, when Watanabe asked him “what direction I wanted my life to take,” Choi pointed at the murals on the wall depicting martial arts scenes. As it happened, Watanabe was a “close friend” of Sokaku Takeda, and arranged an introduction, after which Takeda decided to adopt him, giving him the name of Asao Yoshida. Grandmaster Choi lived in Japan for many decades.

After returning to Korea Grandmaster Choi settled in Taegu, Kyung Buk Province. Here he established his first Korean dojang, and also made his home there. After returning Grandmaster Choi changed his name back to Choi, Yong Sul and named the art to Hap Ki Do. Grandmaster Choi passed away in 1986. After his death many of his early students broke of and established their own federations and gave themselves the rank of 10th. dan in Hap Ki Do. Many still means that there is only one 10th. Dan holder and that is still grandmaster Choi.