The Art of Tang Soo Do

The martial art of Tang Soo Do is relatively modern, but it's roots lie in the ancient Korean art of Soo Bahk Do, which can be traced back many centuries. Tang Soo Do is a style composed from three major areas and styles, which are Soo Bahk Do (60%), Northern China Kung Fu (30%) and Southern China Kung Fu (10%)

Literally translated, the word TANG means T'ang Dynasty of China which reflects the shared cultural background between China and Korea. SOO means hand, but it implies fist, punch, strike or defence. DO means way of life or art. Thus TANG SOO DO means the korean classical martial art which was influenced by the T'ang method of martial art.

The final translation can be put together as the rather poetical - WAY OF THE CHINA HAND

Tang Soo Do is both a 'hard' and a 'soft' style of martial art, with the hard external influence coming from the Soo Bahk and the soft internal from the Northern Chinese systems. Both of which can easily be recognised in the Hyungs (forms) that are practised within the style.

The purpose of Tang Soo Do training is not for fighting, but to perfect techniques which will enhance your total self. If the occasion arises when you must defend yourself, of equal importance is the development of the proper spirit to supplement the physical skills which are attained.

Tang Soo Do is a classical martial art and it's purpose is to develop every aspect of the 'self' in order to produce a mature person who can totally integrate his intellect, emotions, body and spirit.

Philosophy of the Belt System
Our Tang Soo Do belt system in its progress from white to black represents the cycle of the seasons. Each colour stands for a specific stage of achievement. In this way, we realize an essential concept of Oriental philosophy, i.e., that which is born must grow, reach maturity, die, and leave behind the seeds of a new birth.
Beginners belt colour. White represents a primitive stage of achievement. Thus, the seed as it lies dormant beneath the snows of winter.

Orange represents new growth which appears in spring. Our Tang Soo Do knowledge begins to reveal itself.

Green represents the speedy development of youth as summer arrives.

Brown represents power, stability, agility, weight and wisdom. This is a stabilizing stage, both mentally and physically, analogous to the plants which curtail their growth and prepare to flower in late summer.

Red represents blood, life, energy, attention and control. The student's power and techniques begin to bloom and ripen.

Dark Blue
Dark blue represents maturity, respect, honor. Our dark blue belt is given to the Cho Dan Bo or black belt candidate. He must now prepare mind and body to attain black belt.

Black represents mastery, calmness, dignity, sincerity. Black belt is the final stage of one life cycle and the beginning of the next. Thus, we see that it is not only the end of one stage but, more importantly, the beginning of a path which leads up through the ranks of the higher black belts to true mastery.

Evolution & History Of Tang Soo Do
The Chinese surgeon, Hua To, developed a series of health exercises based on Chinese medicine and philosophy. These exercises imitate the movements of five animals; Deer, Tiger, Bear, Monkey, and Bird. The exercises are known as the "Frolics of the Five Animals. " Aerobic in nature, these exercises were the forerunners of Chinese martial arts, specifically Tai Chi Chuan (Grand Supreme Fist)
The Shaolin Temple (Si Lum Ssu in Korean) was built at the foot of the western slope of the mountain of Songshan (Central Mountain), outside the city of Lo-Yang, in Denfeng County, in the region of Lo Han, in the province of Ho Nan, in the kingdom of Wei, in China. It was constructed for a Hindu monk known as Batuo (Fu Tuo) by Emperor Hsaio-Wen, for the purpose of translating Buddhist and other foreign doctrine into Chinese. Batuo is often depicted as a fat, pot-bellied monk, and is sometimes referred to as the "happy Buddha. " Shaolin (Si Lum) derives its name from the pine forest in which the temple was built. Shaolin means "young forest."
The Indian monk, and Buddhist patriarch, known as Bodhidharma (one like unto Buddha) traveled to China via the South China Sea silk routes to land in the port of Kuang (today known as Canton). His mission was to spread the Dhyana sect of Mahayana Buddhism (meditation school of the Greater Vehicle). From there he traveled to Nanking, to the court of the Liang Dynasty Emperor Wu Ti. Wu Ti was a zealous convert of Buddhist thought, so Ta Mo (as Bodhidharma was known in China) was granted an audience with the Emperor. However, Ta Mo and Wu Ti differed in their interpretations and understanding of Buddhist doctrine, which led Ta Mo to make a hasty exit from Nanking and the region of Wu Ti's control. Traveling northward, Ta Mo crossed the great Yang Tse (Yellow River...according to legend, he did so by riding across on a floating reed), and entered the province of Honan. From there he proceeded onto Songshan and the famed Shaolin Temple. There he was received well by the monks of the temple and began instructing them in his Dhyana doctrine (known as Ch'an in China, Son in Korea, and Zen in Japan). Part of Ta Ma's instruction included many hours of deep introspection and concentration - emptying one's mind, while other methods prescribed biofeedback techniques (breath control, changes in metabolic rates, etc.). The monks of Shaolin initially found this practice very exhausting as they had become used to a life of minimum toil. Put simply, they kept falling asleep! To strengthen their bodies in compliment to the practices of strengthening their minds, Ta Mo initiated a practice of exercises utilizing aerobic movement and internal tensions. Ta Mo is reputed to have created a series of 18 movements executed by the monks to develop their health and strength. These exercises, later gaining popularity in the region, became known as the "18 Hands of Lohan. " These 18 simple movements are purported to be the basis upon which Shaolin Boxing developed. In time, the monks of Shaolin expanded the 18 Hands of Lohan into what became known as Chaun Fa, the fighting techniques of Shaolin. This art eventually developed into what we today call T'ang Shu, or Tang Soo in Korean. Ta Mo, himself, was a colourful character. Chinese writers refer to him as the "blue-eyed barbarian. " He is most often depicted balding, with a beard, a pot belly, and having blue or blue-green eyes, He was most probably born in Kanchipuran, India (near Madras). It is almost certain he was the son of a lesser of the warrior caste, but there are some indications he may have been of mixed caste of Brahaman-Kshyatriya (priest-warrior caste). The clue being his caucasoid features. Although heir to a throne, he chose the life of a religious devotee. His impact on martial arts is only minimal, but his contribution to religious development in the Far East is immeasurable. His doctrine, along with his exercises (the 18 Hands of Lohan), are recorded at least partially in the Chinese classic, I Chin (The Book of Change). This book was most probably written by one of his disciples, however, and not by Ta Mo himself. He is reputed to have passed away at the ripe old age of 150 years, making his approximate time of death between 630 and 660 A.D.
(Korea) - King Chin Hung unified the kingdoms of Korea to establish the Silla Dynasty. This is a period renowned for its many advancements in Korea. Of note to martial artists is the establishment of the Hwarang Chungshin order, or "Spirit of the Flowering Youth. " This order trained elite aristocratic youth of Korea to be great military and spiritual leaders. They were trained in all manner of empty hand combat, as well as the Buddhist doctrine of the Maitreyanna (Future or Messiah Buddha) sect. - The Korean martial art of Soo Bahk Bup Sol (hand strike method) was formulated during this period. It later developed into Soo Bahk Do (Hand Strike Way).
It was during this period that the Koryo Dynasty was established. During this time, Soo Bahk Do flourished and great strides were made in its development. Another art being developed in this period was Tae Kyon. This system relied heavily upon use of the feet. It, according to some sources, developed into a "street fighters art" and was never highly regarded for having much technical and philosophical value. At this point, empty hand martial arts were being enjoyed for their recreational value.
King Taejo founded the Chosun Dynasty (known as the Yi Dynasty in the West). This began a "dark ages" period for martial arts in Korea. The state religion changed from Buddhism to Confucianism. Martial arts were frowned on in favor of classical Chinese learning. However, in 1790, Lee Duk Mu compiled a text on Korean martial arts entitled Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji. This book illustrates many facets of martial training and became the standard text for military instruction. Hyung(forms) from various weapons and empty hand sets were recorded. The book also outlined the proper equipment and uniform of the times. In 1904, Choi Yong Sul was born in Taegue. He would go on to form one of Korea's better known martial arts systems, Hap Ki Do.
The Japanese annexed and occupied Korea as their territory. A ban was placed on all Korean martial arts. Koreans were forced to give up their identity in favor of Japanese culture. The Japanese even banned Hangul (Korean language) and enforced dress codes, forcing Koreans to dress and speak Japanese.
Choi Yong Sul, along with many other Korean youths, was taken to Japan to work in labour camps. He was blessed to be semi-adopted by Aiki-Budo Grandmaster, Takeda Sogaku. He resided with and studied under Master Takeda until his death in 1943.
This is the approximate time of Hwang Kee's birth. A martial arts prodigy, Hwang Kee spent his early years practicing and perfecting his skills in Tae Kyon and Soo Bahk Do through secret training and study of many texts. By 1935, Hwang Ki was considered to have mastered these arts. He then began instructing others in native Korean martial arts, much to the displeasure of the Japanese.
Master Hwang was arrested by the Japanese and imprisoned. He was sentenced to death for violating Japanese Martial Law. Hwang Kee escaped and having to leave his family behind, fled north into Manchuria. There he met masters of Chinese Ghuan Fa and trained in the empty hand forms of China in a Chinese Kou Shu Kwoon (Kuk Soo Kwan - national technique institute). The town of Man Chu Ri, near the Russian border, is the unconfirmed location of. Master Hwang's hiatus in Manehuria.
Choi Hong Hi travels to Japan and attends Yonsei University. While there, he attained a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Karate (style undetermined)
The United States became involved in World War II following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. With Japan's surrender following the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Korea receives her liberation. However, the United Nations allows the country to be divided along the 38th parallel. The northern half is given over to Soviet control while the southern half comes under United States control. The South Koreans established the Republic of Korea (ROK) with U.S. support and urgings, while in the north, the Soviets establish the Korean Democratic People's Republic (KPDR), with a communist controlled government.
In this year, Hwang Kee returns to Korea from China. He establishes his first school in Korean martial arts in the Seoul Railroad Station on 9 September, 1945. The school is named "Moo Duk Kwan", which means "Institute of Martial Virtue." The Moo Duk Kwan combined the Soo Bahk Do of Korea with the Chinese martial arts known in Korea as Tang Soo Do, or "way of the Chinese hand. "
The Korean War broke out during this time period when KPDR (North Korea) forces drove across the 38th parallel south into the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The war was brought to an end by the intervention of the U.S. and other United Nations Command (UNC) forces, when a cease-fire agreement was signed in 1954. This treaty was renewed in 1986 and is still in effect today.
September 1953
Hwang Kee forms the Dae Han Tang Soo Do Hoi (Greater Korean Chinese Hand Way Association).
Approximate year Hwang Hyun Chul (Hwang Kee's son) earned his First Dan Black Belt (age 9).
General Choi Hong Hi is awarded honorary 4th Dan by Chung Do Kwan president, Song Duk Sung.
The Korean government is becoming involved in the martial art practices of Korea.
September 1957
Tang Soo Do was first taught to U.S. Military personnel at 8th Army Headquarters, Yongsan, Seoul, Korea.
In Hyuk Suh opens first Kuk Sool Kwan (Korean National Technique Gymnasium).
15 June 1959
Chung Do Kwan president, Song Duk Sung, revokes General Choi Hong Hi's honorary 4th Dan rank due to the General's mishandling of affairs and because of false statements he made concerning his experience and position (Gen. Choi claimed 24 years experience and proclaimed himself highest ranking martial artist in Korea).
June 1969
The Dae Han Tang Soo Do Hoi was dissolved when a split occurred in the Moo Duk Kwan, created by pressures from the government. Hwang Ki established the Dae Han Soo Bahk Do Hoi (Greater Korean Hand Strike Way Association), A "Dan" number system was established. Kim Un Chang receives the first registry number (Dan No. 1).
Kuk Sool Won (Korean National Technique Association was formed by In Hyuk Suh.
16 May 1961
Korean Tae Soo Do Association was formed. General Choi Hong Hi was elected president.
Jong Hyan Lee establishes Tang Soo Do in San Diego California.
Shim Sang Kyu (Dan No. 18) immigrated to the United States with Hwang Ki's approval as instructor to represent Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan in the U.S.
The Korean Tae Kwon Do Association was formed. Kim Yong Chai was elected president.
March 1965
A division occurred in the Moo Duk Kwan. Several high ranking members broke off to form the Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwon Do Association.
22 March 1965
The International Tae Kwon Do Federation was formed by General Choi Hong Hi, in Seoul, Korea. The style was known as Chang Hun Kwan.
The President of the Republic of Korea declares Tae Kwon Do a national sport.
Jae Chul Shin (Dan No. 698) immigrated to the United States with Hwang Kee's approval as instructor to represent Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan in the U.S. He formed the United States Tang Soo Do Federation in Burlington, New Jersey.
Kim Jae Joon (Dan No. 38) immigrated to the United States with Hwang Kee's approval as instructor to represent Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan in the U.S. He established a dojang in Detroit, Michigan.
Kim Un Yong was elected president of the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association.
The Kuk Ki Won (Korean National Technique Institute) was built. Kim Un Yong was elected president.
27 July 1972
Hong Chong Soo was elected president of the Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwon Do Association.
The International Tae Kwon Do Federation Headquarters was relocated to Toronto, Canada.
May 1973
The World Tae Kwon Do Federation was formed. Kim Un Yong was elected president.
Hwang Kee makes a personal visit to the United States and holds a national convention in New York. Tang Soo Do instructors across America attend.
February 1974
Hong Chong Soo was elected vice-president of the Kuk Ki Won.
Tae Kwon Do was officiaIly recognized as an International Sport by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).
In Hyuk Suh immigrates to the United States and settles in San Diego, California.
Jong Hyan Lee, the founder of Tang Soo Do in San Diego, California, establishes the Institute of Tangsoology and breaks away from Grandmaster Hwang Kee.
After a prolonged legal battle, Hwang Kee wins a suit against the Korean government for their oppression to close his schools and consume the Moo Duk Kwan as part of the Dae Han Tae Kwon Do Hoi under Kuk Ki Won. In a decision handed down by the Korean Supreme Court, the Dae Han Soo Bahk Do Moi is officially recognized by the Korean government; however, it remains under close supervision to this day.
The World Tae Kwon Do Federation makes announcement to dissolve all Kwans and issue each with an identification number, bringing them under the direct control of the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association and Kuk Ki Won.
Hwang Kee relocates his son, Hwang Hyun Chul, from Greece (where he presided as Grandmaster) to the U.S, and appoints him as Technical Advisor to the United States. Hwang Hyun Chul formed the United States Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation (USTSDMDK Federation) on 28 June 1974, in New York. The Federation Headquarters later relocated to Springfield, New Jersey.
Tae Kwon Do was accepted as a member of the General Assembly of International Sports Federations (GAISF).
The World Kuk Sool Won Association was founded by In Hyuk Suh in San Diego, California.
A split occurred in the USTSDMDK Federation. Jae Chul Shin, feeling slighted by Hwang Kee's appointment of Hwang Hyun Chul as Technical Advisor (and subsequently stripping him of his powers in the Federation) leaves the Moo Duk Kwan to attempt to establish his own United States Tang Soo Do Association. A law suit was filed by the USTSDMDK Federation against Jae Chul Shin over rights to the name and symbols of the Moo Duk Kwan. The USTSDMDK Federation won the suit, firmly establishing itself as the only representative in the United States of the Dae Han Soo Bahk Do Hoi.
Choi Yong Sul retires and turns over his organization, the International Hap Ki Do Federation, to Dr. Park Jung Hwan. Mr. Mike Wallmershauser is designated director of the U.S. component, the American Hap Ki Do Association.
May 1980
The IOC approves Tae Kwon Do for demonstration at the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul, Korea.
July 1980
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized the World Tae Kwon Do Federation. Tae Kwon Do is granted the opportunity to demonstrate itself for selection as an Olympic Sport.
May 1982
The Moo Duk Kwon Tae Kwon Do Association changes its name to the Moo Duk Hoi (martial virtue association). Hong Chong Soo is elected president.
13 November 1982
Jae Chul Shin forms the World Tang Soo Do Association in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In Hyuk Suh is elected president of the Korean Ki Do Association under the Kuk Ki Wan.
29 November 1986
Grandmaster Choi Yong Sul, founder of Hap Ki Do, passes away at his home in Taegue, South Korea. He was 82 years old at the time of his death.