Kwon Moo Hapkido
Grandmaster Chae Un Kim
About Grandmaster Kim
Grandmaster Chae Un Kim is an eighth degree black belt of the Korea Hapkido Federation, and Grandmaster to the Kwon Moo Hapkido Federation. Grandmaster Kim is originally from Seoul, Korea and is classically trained in Yawara Seong Moo Kwan, a martial art also known today as Hapkido, with a specialty in grabbing and twisting techniques that manipulate joints and immobilize limbs.
Grandmaster Kim studied Hapkido through his youth, and then after graduating school, he served in the Korean military. There he trained troops part time, and was able to further grow his understanding of Hapkido and improve its application for different body types and fighting styles.
Above: Grandmaster Kim (seated) surrounded by black belts and a black belt test candidate.
After opening a school in the United States (in 1980s, Seattle Washington), Grandmaster Kim observed differences in American body types and fighting styles, versus traditional styles in Korea. For instance, American styles often have larger opponents with brute fighting styles, while many traditional Hapkido techniques are designed for same size opponents.
With over three hundred niche techniques and thousands more variations and combinations, the traditional Hapkido course of study is massive. Facing the challenge of the American attacker, Grandmaster Kim decided to revise his course of study, improving it from traditional Hapkido. He scoped focus to only the most effective techniques, removed ineffective techniques, and re-organized curriculum, ultimately creating the formidable Kwon Moo Hapkido style taught today.
In his dojang, Grandmaster Kim emphasizes the quality of belts over quantity of belts. “Here I look for improvement, skill and sign of progress to change belts,” he says. “Quality of belts is very important.” A student must demonstrate appropriate quality (speed, power, precision, and control) for their skill level in order to progress to more advanced training.
This can be taken to mean that if you have earned a Kwon Moo Hapkido belt advancement, you have demonstrated a deep understanding of that belt's meaning, and proven your level of precision skill for its rank. A belt advancement is an honor and a representation of great accomplishment and self-advancement.
Above: Grandmaster Kim (seated) and several students celebrating completion of a belt advancement test.
Above: Grandmaster Kim (center-left) demonstrating kick defense-attacks with students, in his first U.S. martial arts school.
Kwon Moo Hapkido is so effective in fact, that unlike many other martial arts, students do not compete in public events for tournament or sport. “Other martial arts like Taekwondo have a lot of showmanship,” Grandmaster explains to students. “Hapkido is not a sport. It is the classic practice of Korean self-defense. There is no point in tournament.” Students of all ages learn the same self-defense-centered approach that Grandmaster delivers when training professional organizations such as the Seattle Police Department, SWAT and other law enforcement agencies.
Grandmaster Kim's Kwon Moo Hapkido style leverages many techniques used commonly throughout many effective martial arts (such as Jujitsu, Aikido, Judo, Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Krav Maga, etc.), which leverage not only the fighter's physical self, but also the mind, the environment, and the opponent's movements and stance. The fighter uses clever footwork and precision movements to overtake their opponent by leverage and simple physics; not by being larger or stronger than their opponent.