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The Ultimate Art of Self-Defense


1899 - 1986

Choi Yong-Sool is the founder of Hapkido. He learned Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu as a man-servant for Takeda Sōkaku (1859- 1943) in Japan for 30 years before returning to Korean in 1945 after the end of WWll. Originally he called his martial art Dae Dong Ryu Yu Sool, but as the art grew and encompassed other Korean martial arts into its syllabus, the art of Hapkido emerged.

While in service to Takeda, Choi would become a very powerful fighter; Takeda would send Choi to conquer all challengers.  The Japanese mind set of the time was one of a divine race and all foreigners were considered to be beneath them, to be defeated by a Korean man-servant was a powerful humiliation.

Historical records report that Takeda would refer to Choi as "senior-most" student when travelling and teaching his art.

GrandMaster Choi Yong-Sool

What Is Hapkido?

Hapkido is a highly effective Korean martial art. It is a form of self-defence that employs joint locks, grappling, and throwing techniques as well as kicks, punches, and other striking attacks. It also teaches the use of traditional weapons, including knife, sword, rope, cane, short stick, and middle-length staff.

Hapkido employs both long-range and close-range fighting techniques, utilizing jumping kicks and percussive hand strikes at longer ranges, and pressure point strikes, joint locks, and throws at closer fighting distances. It emphasizes circular motion, redirection of force, and control of the opponent. Practitioners seek to gain advantage over their opponents through footwork and body positioning to incorporate the use of leverage, avoiding the use of brute strength against brute strength.

The art was adapted from Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu as it was taught by Choi Yong-Sool when he returned to Korea after World War II after having lived in Japan for 30 years. This system was later combined by Choi´s disciples with kicking and striking techniques of indigenous and contemporary arts such as taekkyeon, and Tang Soo Do (forerunners to Taekwondo); as well as various throwing techniques and ground fighting from Japanese Judo.

Hapkido is often translated as "the way of coordinated power" or "the way of harmony; "Hap" (coordinated or joining), "Ki" (internal energy, spirit, strength, or power), and "Do" (way or art).

More on Hapkido:


Hapkido in New Zealand

Our particular style of Modern Hapkido, New Zealand Hapkido, was originally introduced to New Zealand by Grandaster Lee Jung Nam in 1975 as Kuk Jae Hapkido. Grandmaster Lee developed a very practical and powerful style of Hapkido based on combat which was proven and tested through his time as a captain in the Korean special forces and in the Vietnam war.  Grandmaster Lee was originally trained in Hapkido by Grandmaster Choi Yong Sool, and was also promoted to 4th Dan Black-belt by him.


Our Hapkido training aims to preserve and develop Grandmaster Lee's original teachings and philosophy which has Hapkido as a self-defence (combat) focused martial art as opposed to a sport.

In July 2006 Grandmaster Lee (then a 9th Dan in Hapkido) formally passed his leadership of Hapkido to Master Callum Forbes (6th Dan) who had already been assisting informally in this role since the late 90’s. However in 2010 Master Forbes changed the name from Kuk Jae Hapkido to "New Zealand Hapkido",  which more accurately reflect our geographical influence.   

New Zealand Hapkido is now made up of eight Hapkido Schools across New Zealand, including NPTHC, and is also a member group of the World Kido Federation/Hanminjok Hapkido Association; one of the largest Korean martial arts associations in the world with over 600 member clubs in South Korea alone and over 350 member clubs worldwide.

Grandmaster In Sun Seo (10th Dan) is the founder and president of the World Kido Federation/Hanminjok Hapkido Association and he himself was also a student of Grandmaster Choi Yong Sool. This means that New Zealand Hapkido is linked to the founder of the art through two different pathways.  

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