founder of hapkido

Choi11 - Founder


Grand Master Yong Sul Choi

This interview was in the year 1982 on a trip to the United States where Master Young Sool Choi was attending a presentation of Hapkido.
On the days he was on American soil, Master Choi gave an interview to a major martial arts magazine in the country.
From this interview we can create a projection of the emergence of the Hapkido history and which paths have led Hapkido to be what it is today.


. Under what circumstances were you placed in Takeda’s house, Sokaku?
(Choi) –  While living in the temple, I was fascinated by the murals of battle scenes and paintings of scenes of famous martial arts arranged by the temple. When the time came, Wadanabi asked me which direction I wanted to take in my life. Immediately I pointed to a wall scene depicting martial arts and said it was what I wanted to be. Wadanabi Kintaro was a close friend of Sokaku Takeda and arranged for my presentation to him. Sokaku Takeda liked me and felt great sympathy for my situation, deciding to adopt me. In my adoption he gave me the Japanese name of Yoshida Asao. I was around 11 at the time.

  . In which city was the Buddhist temple that was your home?
(Choi) –  Kyoto.

  . In what area was Sokaku Takeda’s house and dojang?
(Choi) –  His home and school were located on Shin Su Mountain in the Akeda area.

 What was the nature of your training by Sokaku Takeda?
(Choi) –  Sokaku Taked was the head of Daito Ryu Aiki-Jutsu. I lived in his home and learned under his personal guidance for almost 30 years. I was his constant student and for 20 years of my training I was isolated in your mountain home. Takeda was the master of the Japanese royal family.

. Were you personally involved in teaching the royal family?
  (Choi) –  Yes, I was the master’s assistant in all his instruction. In Tokyo we also taught high-ranking government within the palace circle. We also traveled to various parts of Japan and taught various groups of select people.

Fundador do Hapkido 2 - Founder . Did you leave Japan with Master Takeda for some lectures or teaching?
   (Choi) –  Yes, when I was about 28 this was arranged by politicians for my master and outstanding students to travel to Hawaii for a tour of exhibit.

 . What was your role on this tour?
  (Choi) –  I was the leader of the exhibition team under the supervision of my master.

 . How many people formed the team. Could name some participants?
  (Choi) –  On the Hawaii tour there were five of us: Sokaku Takeda, I (Yoshida Asao), Abida Jintaro and two others whose names I can not name now.

 . When you returned from Hawaii, were there significant changes in your life?
  (Choi) –  No, we continued to travel and teach and at the same time learned Master Takeda’s instructions.

. How was your life affected by the outbreak of World War II? 
(Choi) –  It has changed things in various ways. The most significant change came at the end of the war. Japan was losing the war and in a last desperation of the government, it instituted a special military force with the most prominent martial artists of that time. These highly trained people were ensconced in special guerrilla units that were scattered in the war zone. All of the inner circle of Daito Ryu Aiki-Jutsu were summoned, except me and Master Takeda. All were killed at the end of the War.

 . Why were not you summoned with the others?
  (Choi) –  I was being summoned but Sokaku Takeda intervened. Because of his status and influence, he had me hospitalized for minor surgery. This stopped the process of my recruitment and prevented him from being summoned. He prevented me from being put into the war because he felt I would be killed and the Daito Ryu Aiki-Jutsu could be lost in its complete form after his death.

 . How many separate techniques did Sokaku Takeda have developed and taught in his style?
  (Choi) –  3808.

 . How many of these techniques have you personally been taught?
  (Choi) –  When he was close to die he told me that I was the only student he had taught all his secrets and techniques.

 . When did you return to Korea?
  (Choi) –  I returned shortly after Sokaku Takeda’s death.

 . Where did you live in Korea?
  (Choi) –  We are located in Taegu Kyung Buk province. Here I established my first dojang and have had my home ever since. Upon returning, I changed my name back to Yong Sul Choi and the name of my art to Hapkido.

 Source: AHA / Masters  Rim and Sheya



Choi4 - FounderChoi Yong, the founder of Hapkido, was born in Yong Dong city, Choong Chung province, relatively close to Taegue, South Korea in 1904. In 1909, Korea came under Japanese occupation. It is believed that Japanese troops took young Choi synagogue from their homeland at the age of seven to be assigned work in Japan. It was a very common practice, in this period of history, for the Japanese occupation forces to relocate the young male Korean children to Japan for various kinds of work. 

Founder of Hapkido, Choi Yong stated in an interview 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. Since he did not like the man, he finally escaped. 

The real cause for his transportation to Japan can never be proven. If Mr. Morimoto had been the cause, unfortunately he would have been a worker and not a son. Fate wanted that Choi came to work for Takeda Sokaku (1860-1943), the 32-year-old patriarch of Daito Ryu Aikijitsu. Takeda was 44 years old when Choi, a seven-year-old boy, came to his service. Choi was given the Japanese name Asao Yoshida. The first or proper name Tatjuttsu that spreads as being the name Choi used in Japan is not a valid Japanese name. Therefore, it is historically incorrect to believe that he went by that name, although this is the name Choi himself said to people while in Japan. 

Choi remained in Takeda’s service for thirty years, until April 25, 1943, when Takeda died. At that point, he said goodbye to Takeda’s house and then returned to Taegō, Korea. Choi8 - Founder 

It should be noted that there is no historical record of Choi certified as a student or teacher of Daito Ryu. The myth that Choi lost his certificates when returning to Korea is a lie as there are in-depth records of every Aikijitsu Daito Ryu student kept in Japan. Choi, by his Korean or Japanese name, has never been listed as a student. This fact is what underlies the relationship between Choi and Takeda. Choi, however, for decades, was under the direct influence of the art. He obviously mastered his techniques.


Choi16 - Founder


This photograph, taken in the early 1900s, shows Takeda Sokaku, Ohbata Shigeta, Hiratsuka Katsuharu, Yoshida Kotaro and several other men. Sometimes it is stated that it also shows Yong Shul Choi, (first line, second from the left).