Bong Soo Han, a Korean martial arts grand master known as the “Father of Hapkido in the Western World” who operated a martial arts school in Santa Monica for 37 years, has died. He was 73.
Han died Monday, January 8th, at his home in Santa Monica, where he was surrounded by family and friends, according to the International Hapkido Federation.
Han was considered the world’s foremost practitioner of Hapkido, a martial-arts style that incorporates powerful and precise kicking techniques, fluid and highly effective throwing techniques and decisive and sharp hand techniques, according to the International Hapkido Federation, which Han founded.
He held a ninth-degree black belt and was one of the original senior students to the founder of Hapkido, Yong Sul Choi.
Han had studied the Korean martial art for more than 60 years and taught thousands of students throughout his life.
The grand master trained hundreds of U.S. special force members in Korea before coming to the United States, where he first introduced Hapkido to the country in 1967.
He gained critical acclaim for creating and staging realistic fight sequences for the motion picture Billy Jack in 1971, and later choreographed scenes in numerous other films, according to the Hapkido Federation.
Han, who wrote the book Hapkido: The Korean Art of Self-Defense in 1974, was inducted into the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame in 1978.
For nearly four decades, Han operated his martial arts school and the International Hapkido Federation headquarters on Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica.
The Santa Monica studio is scheduled to hold a memorial tribute for Han Thursday through Saturday, January 18th through January 20th.
The studio will be open from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, January 18th and 19th, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, January 20th.