Thirteen centuries ago the people of Korea were unified under the sovereignty of King Chin-Heung. But in the years to follow, their country was torn apart by wars and insurrections. During the Silla Dynasty, it was felt that the security of many lay in the strength , physical and mental endurance of a select few. Each king gathered about him an elite group of young noblemen – knights who were highly disciplined, adhered to a strict code of ethics and were extremely proficient in the art of killing with their bare hands.

The martial arts of these men, who called themselves Hwarangdo, reigned for two hundred years.

During the Yi Dynasty, the kings initiated various cultural arts. As the arts began to flourish, violence decreased. Painting, sculpture and writing replaced the art of fighting. Those who followed the old ways were banished and forced to retreat into monastic orders secluded high in the mountains of Korea. Thereafter the martial arts were practiced only in secret.

For 500 years, these secret art forms were practiced and refined by devoted monks. Many of them developed their own styles of fighting, the most effective and devastating of which was the form called Taek-Kyeon. This is primarily the martial art of kicking. So fantastic and so powerful were its techniques that even today, only a handful of men have mastered it. One such man is the well-known Master Bong Soo Han, instructor of Hapkido.

Hapkido is the martial art of great depth. It does not rely on physical strength to subdue an agreesor, but rather a knowledge of body mechanics and movement. Hapkido incorporates the kicking techniques of Taek-Kyeon, joint locking, throwing and pressure points as well as the use of internal strength.

Written by Conrad Howard — November 21, 2012

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