According to Moo Ye Do Bo Tong Ji, the earliest Korean martial arts handbook, there are several hypotheses concerning the origins of the Hwarangdo. Hwang Rang, a small boy, was one of them. He went to the BaikJe Dynasty at the age of seven to master martial skills, particularly swordsmanship. When he returned home, he taught other young men his skills, which eventually became the Hwarangdo tradition.
The other hypothesis says that Hwang Rang learned martial arts from Chinese teachers who came to Korea to teach during the reign of King Jinheung (924-976 AD). It is said that there were three of them - Li Yun and Li Yuanzhong from Fujian Province in China and Wang Chanzan from Gansu Province. They settled in South Korea's Gyeongsang Province and opened schools where they taught swordplay and wrestling. Some historians believe that Hwang Rang might have met with some of these teachers when he traveled between provinces along the frontier with China looking for new challenges. However, there is no evidence supporting this theory.
When asked about it, Hwang Rang once said, "I don't remember how old I was when I first learned martial arts. But I do know that I had already mastered four styles by the time I was fifteen years old."
Choi Yong Sul, the founder, was a Korean who was transported to Japan as a youngster. However, it is unknown what types of martial arts he learnt in Japan and used in Hapkido, however most believe he studied Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu since the parallels are unmistakable.
He started teaching Hapkido in 1965 at his dojang in Seoul, Korea. Today, there are over 1,000 hapkido schools worldwide with many more being opened every year.
Yong Sul Choi taught that the way to learn martial arts was by doing them so he would often ask his students to practice on him. He also believed that if you were going to teach someone else's art, you should first know its secrets so he spent much of his time researching the various systems such as karate, aikido and others. He developed his own style which he called "Hapkido" (which means "the way of the hand and foot") because he felt that any weapon could be used in conjunction with the body to achieve effective self-defense. He died at the age of 49 due to kidney cancer.
In addition to running his dojang, Yong Sul Choi also wrote several books on hapkido which have been translated into many languages including English. His teachings continue to be passed on through seminaries and schools all over the world.
Bolo began his martial arts instruction at the age of ten in Guangzhou, Guangdong, under the tutelage of many kung fu masters. He learned various techniques from each teacher, and after seven years of training he was awarded a white belt. At this time, Bolo's weight was 40 kg (88 lbs), and he was 5'3" tall.
After another seven years of training, Bolo was again awarded a white belt, this time by his master who said that only those who can fight with an empty stomach will be able to defeat their enemies. With a total investment of more than 100 hours a year for nearly 10 years, Bolo finally achieved black belt status. His master died soon after giving him this award, but not before setting up a school where students could continue their learning.
Bolo's first teaching position was at the school set up by his master, but after only one year there he was offered a job at a restaurant where he would be responsible for cooking the food and cleaning the rooms. Although this job paid less than what he was making at the school, it allowed him to spend more time studying kung fu and working on his diet so that he could get stronger.