(August 25, 1931 – January 8, 2007)
Grand Master Bong Soo Han is the world’s foremost practitioner of Hapkido, and is referred to as the Father of Hapkido in the Western World. As one of the original senior students to the Founder of Hapkido, Yong Sul Choi, he led a dedicated effort in the development of Hapkido as it is known today. He has taught thousands of loyal students throughout his life with many becoming masters themselves. Other masters across all styles have and continue to seek his wisdom and teachings. Grand Master Han has studied and refined this powerful Korean martial art for more than 60 years. He currently holds the rank of 9th Dan Black Belt. He is the Founder and President of the International Hapkido Federation.
In Korea, turbulent times of the post Korean War and the increasing conflicts of the Vietnam War called upon Grand Master Han to train hundreds of military personnel, including American/Korean Special Forces and Secret Service. In part from this realistic and dynamic experience, many in the military and law enforcement agencies, including those of the FBI, continue to rely on Grand Master Han to develop and teach effective defensive tactics programs.
Grand Master Han first introduced Hapkido into the United States in 1967, although mass exposure did not come until the motion picture “Billy Jack” filled the nation’s theaters in 1971. In this film, Grand Master Han gained critical acclaim for creating and staging some of the most breathtaking and realistic fight sequences ever to have graced the silver screen. Up to the release of this film, brief references to martial arts were often portrayed by actors and not by martial artists. Grand Master Han redefined and revolutionalized Hollywood’s understanding of martial arts by demonstrating a level of martial arts skill previously not seen before, much to the delight of the audience who found it tremendously exciting. Grand Master Han has continued to choreograph, double, star in, and/or produce numerous films since.
Grand Master Han has been the subject of hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, countless martial arts magazine cover stories, and is a member of the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame (1978). He was also featured in The Arts and Entertainment documentary, “The Martial Arts,” the Wesley Snipes-produced “Master of the Martial Arts,” and several other radio, Internet, and television profiles.
In addition to being cited in dozens of martial arts books, Grand Master Han himself has written many articles on the Way of martial arts, and also authored the book, HAPKIDO, The Korean Art of Self-Defense (Ohara Publications, 1974), which is now in its 23rd printing. He has completed a series of ten instructional Hapkido videotapes for worldwide distribution, and is currently working on ten more Advanced Black Belt tapes.
Grand Master Han is best known, however, for his indefatigable dedication to the teaching of Hapkido, sharing with thousands the truth and nature of martial arts, impacting those who commit to embark on this journey of self-development. He presently operates his martial arts school and IHF Headquarters in Santa Monica, California, which he has done for 37 years. In an effort to expand the IHF to include qualified and committed member schools, Grand Master Han continues to tour the world lecturing on and demonstrating Hapkido, the Art of Coordinated Power.