Happy Birthday Grandmaster Ji Han Jae

Written on the 14 August 2021

Happy Birthday Grandmaster Ji Han Jae

Happy birthday to Grandmaster Ji, Han Jae on September 26th. He is undoubtedly the most prominent pioneer of Hapkido. Together with his physical skill, technical contribution, promotional efforts and political connections he is credited with popularising the art of Hapkido through North America and Europe.

He began his training in 1949 under the direction of Hapkido founder Choi Yong Sul and was the 14th student on the founder's records to receive his 1st Degree Black Belt. In 1956 he moved to Seoul and started his first self-defence school. Choi Yong Sul at this point called the art Yu Kwon Sul and Ji Han Jae claims to have changed the name to "Hapkido" in 1958. However in a 1980 interview one of Choi Yong Sul's early students, Suh Buk Sub (also a Black Belt in Judo) stated that it was Choi who created the name. Even though this is disputed, both men are important to the foundation of the art.

Ji Han Jae had begun to study other martial arts including a Korean kicking style called Taekkyon and weapon based arts learning the long staff, short stick and sword. He also shared his training facility with instructors of other styles including Boxing, Taekwondo and Judo. This influenced the original Hapkido curriculum and added to the base creating a well rounded mixed martial arts system. Another early student of the founder name Kim Moo Hong visited Ji Han Jae's dojang in 1961 and together they finalised the kicking curriculum that we still see in today's Hapkido syllabus.

Ji Han Jae was instrumental in forming the Korea Hapkido Federation in 1965, which is still today the largest consortium for Hapkido throughout the world. GIANT Martial Arts is affiliated to this federation. Throughout the 1960's Ji Han Jae experienced the Vietnam war and was the personal bodyguard to South Korean President Park Chung Hee (1962-1979) and has taught many Korean and US government and private law enforcement organisations including the US Military Special Forces and FBI.

He also worked extensively in Hong Kong and Hollywood cinema as a trainer/actor and fight choreographer. He had appearances in the Lady Kung Fu 1972, Fist of Unicorn 1973, and co-starred with Bruce Lee in his last feature film - The Game of Death 1978. Ji Han Jae was 42 years of age when he filmed this with Bruce Lee. See footage of their fight scene below.

Film History:

1972 Hapkido a.k.a Lady Kung Fu
1973 Fist of Unicorn
1975 The Dragon Tamers
1978 The Game of Death

Notable students:

Bruce Lee - Ji Han Jae taught the Spinning Kick to Bruce Lee and they worked in cinema together

Tae Man Kwon -  Opened the first Hapkido dojang in USA, Torrance California

Oh Sei Lim - Current president of the Korea Hapkido Federation

Hwang In Shik  - Teacher of Jackie Chan

Myung Jae Nam - Founder of Hankido

Bong Soo Han - Father of Hapkido in America who also became a martial arts film star in the 1970's

Angela Mao - Hapkido Black Belt, famous actress from 1970 to 1992, worked with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Bruce Lee in the old great "Enter the Dragon 1973"

Yong Sik Lee - 9th Degree Black Belt who started the "Hak Moo Kwan" school in Incheon, South Korea. He taught Grandmaster Park Jong Kwan who is Grandmaster Ryoo's teacher who taught GIANT Instructors Anthony & Giorgio Repice. Our dojang lineage.

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