Hap Ki Do was introduced to ancient Korea during the same time that Buddhism was becoming an influence in the country, approximately 372 A.D. A more completely recorded history of Hap Ki Do dates back as early as Sam Kuk Si Dae or the Era of Three Kingdoms, 3 A.D. Buddhism and Hap Ki Do together became popular throughout the country among the upper class and royal court. Evidence of this can be found in many Ancient wall and cave paintings and sculptures.
Hap Ki Do techniques were reserved exclusively for the hierarchy of monks, ruling families and royal officials as well as the Hwa Rang Do warriors of ancient Silla, being taught to them as a means of self-protection. It was not known among the common classes, so its origin is often misunderstood and incorrectly thought to be a form of Chinese or Japanese martial art.
After the Three Kingdoms were united during the Koryo Dynasty, the royalty for many generations brought Hap Ki Do masters to the palace for demonstrations, affirming Hap Ki Do as a royal martial art.
During the Lee Dynasty, Chonja ordered his general, Duk Moo Lee, to compile a book for all the known martial arts techniques. This volume, known as Muye Dobo Tongji, has many detailed examples of Hap Ki Do techniques recorded within its pages.
Hap Ki Do has been interwoven throughout Korean history. A prime example was when a monk named Su-san, who was also a grand master that taught Hap Ki Do to a group of monks; the monks, in turn fought against the Japanese Im Jin Wae Ran invasion.
Hap Ki Do flourished for many generations through many dynasties, stretching as far back as the Three Kingdom period up to the Lee Dynasty. Much like Tae Kwon Do, Hap Ki Do lost its popularity around this time, the major reason being attributed to the collapse of Buddhism and its replacement by Confucianism. Confucianism respects scholarly endeavors and disdains anything involving physical force, so all martial arts suffered during this time. Hap Ki Do all but disappeared and was preserved as a secret self-defense only by individual master monks and royal families.
Hap Ki Do has been re-introduced today by the father of Hap Ki Do, Yong Sool Choi, born in 1904. Yong Sool Choi studied in seclusion from the age of nine. When he came out of seclusion, Korea had been liberated from the Japanese after WWII. Choi taught all the Hap Ki Do techniques to a few outstanding students, who in turn took the task of popularizing Hap Ki Do in modern Korea. the Korean conflict in 1950 slowed this process down, but soon after this Hap Ki Do began spreading. Many top masters toured internationally to put on demonstrations to help bring attention to Hap Ki Do. Within a few years, its popularity had grown world-wide.
Today, all cities in Korea have Hap Ki Do schools. The government, and military, have Hap Ki Do instructors and practitioners totaling over one million. Other countries including the U.S.A., Germany, France, Spain, China, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil have a solid foundation of Hap Ki Do schools.
Hap Ki Do’s continuing popularity is assured, as the untiring and unselfish commitment of its masters and students is reenacted in the superior and unique nature of Hap Ki Do itself.