2014 KMAM-HOF LEGEND INDUCTEEChoi Yong Sool (1904-1986)Grandmaster Choi Yong Sool was born in 1904 at Chung Buk province in Korea. He lost his parents at an early age. According to martial arts historian, Kim Jeon Yoon, the orphaned Choi was taken to Japan by a Japanese family and he is thought to have been employed as a houseboy in Japan by 1913. He then spent four years living in a temple before Sokaku Takeda, a close friend of the abbot, took him in.In a 1996 interview with Michael Wollmershauser, Suh Bok Sub stated that Choi had told him that he was born into a very poor Korean family who lived near a candy factory, run by a Japanese couple. The couple took a liking to Choi, and as his family could not afford him, they allowed the couple to return to Japan with their son. The couple left Choi at a Buddhist temple so they could travel more widely in Japan and also for Choi to be given an education. The head of the temple sent Choi to Sokaku Takeda, a close friend. Choi then cleaned Takeda’s dojo for five years after which the master permitted him to learn aikijujitsu. In the interview, Suh Bok Sub mentions Choi showing him a photograph of Takeda and explaining to Suh that Takeda was his surrogate father.Dr. Kimm He-Young explains that on Choi’s return to Taegu city in Korea, in 1945 after the end of the Japanese occupation, during this time a bag with his money and martial arts certificates was stolen. This has been confirmed by Suh Bok Sub, who states that the bag was stolen at Younson train station after Choi returned to his home town of Yong Dong, later deciding to relocate to Taegu after he found no one to meet him at the train station. However there are no official records to confirm this. Regardless of these conjectures, Choi’s techniques reflect a definite link to Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu.Although all records are sketchy, most historians believe that Suh Bok Sup was the first student of Choi Yong Sool, and this came about after Suh watched Choi defeat a number of assailants in an altercation. This so impressed Suh, an avid Yudo practitioner, that he invited Choi to teach him. In 1951, Suh opened a school and he named it the Daehan Hapki Yu Kwon Sool Dojang.Many Korean martial arts Masters claim to have studied with Choi Yong Sool and thus, Choi became one of the most influential figures in Hapkido. After a meeting with a number of them, they formed a new association called Korean Kido Hae, and Choi Yong Sool was chosen to be the first Chairman of the newly formed group … another indication of his esteem in Hapkido circles.There are claims that GM Choi did not found the art of Hap Ki Do, and due to the lack of proper records I can’t argue that. In fact, GM Choi himself stated he taught Yawara. Still, no on can deny that GM Choi Yong Sool was a major contributor to the art. One of the true Korean Martial Arts Icons and Legends.