1-About Tang Soo Do

Meaning of Tang Soo Do

Literally translated, the word Tang means T'ang Dynasty of China, which reflects the shared cultural background between China and Korea ( 617-907 AD ). Soo means hand, but it implies fist, punch, strike, or defense, etc. Do means way of life or art. Thus Tang Soo Do means the Korean classical martial art which legendarily was influenced by the T’ang method of martial art.


The exact origin of Tang Soo Do, as well as of any martial arts in general, is obscure, although there are a number of historical theories. However, the most credible and traditional view is that martial arts originated not in any one country, but in almost all parts of the globe, as they were needed be primitive people.

Development in Early Ages

The ancestral art of Korean Tang Soo Do can be traced back to the period of the three kingdoms. At that time, Korea was divided into three kingdoms. Koguryo was founded 37 BC in northern Korea. The Silla Dynasty was founded in 57 BC in the southeast peninsula, and Paekche was founded in 18 BC. After a long series of wars, the SIlla Dynasty united the three kingdoms in 668 AD. During this period of time, the primitive martial arts were very popular in warfare. This is evident by mural paintings, ruins, and remains which depicted Tang Soo Do in those days. Among the three kingdoms, the Silla Dynasty was most famous for its development of martial arts. A corps formed by young aristocrats, called "Hwa Rang Dan," was the major group who developed those arts. These warriors were instrumental in unifying the peninsula as the new Silla Dynasty(668 AD - 935 AD) and furnished many of the early leaders of the dynasty. Most Korean martial arts trace their spiritual and technical heritage to this group. The names of some groups and arts reflect this, such as Hwa Rang Do or Hwa Doo Do.

Medieval Development

The Unified Silla Kingdom was overthrown by a warlord, Wang Kun, in 918 AD, and a New Kingdom called "Koryo" lasted for 475 years. In 1392 AD, the new kingdom, Yi Dynasty, succeeded and lasted about 500 years. Approximately a thousand-year period elapsed between the two dynasties. Tang Soo Do became very popular with the general public. In those days it was called Kwon Bop, Tae Kyun, Soo Bahk, Tang Soo, etc. The very first complete martial art book was written at this time. This most important book is called "Mooyae Dobo Tongji." It was written in 1790 AD and contained illustrations that substantiate the theory that "Soo Bahk Ki," the formal name for Tang Soo Do, had quickly developed into a sophisticated art of combat techniques.

Modern History

The subsequent occupation of Korea by the Japanese military regime took place from 1909 to 1945. During this period, practicing and teaching of martial arts was restricted. After World War II, 1945, this restriction was lifted. Several martial arts training schools were erected at that time as follows.

Moo Duk Kwan by Hwang Kee
Chi Do Kwan
by Kwai Byung, Yun
Chung Do Kwan by Duk Sung, Son
Song Moo Kwan
by Byung Jik, No
Chang Moo Kwan by Nam Suk, Lee
Yun Moo Kwan by Sang Sup, Chun
These founders started to organize their own organizations respectively, and Master Hwang Kee organized the "Korean Soo Bahk Do Association" on November 9, 1945. Besides the Soo Bahk Do Association's existence in Korea, there were various types of other martial arts called "Kong Soo" or "Tae Soo". In 1965, all of these various systems were united into the "Korean Tae Kwon Do Association", and the art was called "Tae Kwon Do" uniformly. As a Korean national sport, Tae Kwon Do initiated a new era and instructors were dispatched throughout the world, and international tournaments were held. In those days, Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do were divided, with Tang Soo Do striving to retain as a traditional martial arts, while Tae Kwon Do held its world games and sports.

Birth of the World Tang Soo Do Association

In 1968 Master Jae Chul Shin came to the United States of America as the U. S. representative for the Korean Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan. He formed the U. S. Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation in Burlington, New Jersey in 1968. This traditional Korean Martial Art was quickly accepted and soon grew in popularity throughout the World. The organization reformed to fit new demands internationally, and on

November 13 and 14th, 1982, a charter convention of the World Tang Soo Do Association was held in Philadelphia, PA., USA. With the advent of the World Tang Soo Do Association, Tang Soo Do began a new era of development as a traditional martial art.
The new organization has grown at an outstanding rate to reach over 130,000 members in 36 countries and thousands of students are training in the following countries; Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chile, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, England, Germany, Greece, Guam, Holland, India, Italy, Korea, Mozambique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Rumania, Russia, Scotland, Seychelles, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Uruguay, and the U.S.A.


- Loyalty to Country
- Obedience to Parents
- Honor Friendship
- No Retreat in Battle
- In Fighting, Choose with Sense and Honor


- Integrity
- Concentration
- Perseverance
- Respect and Obedience
- Self-Control
- Humility
- Indomitable Spirit


1. Purpose of training should be enhancement of mental and physical betterment.
2. Serious approach
3. All out effort.
4. Maintain regular and constant practice.
5. Practice basic techniques all the time.
6. Regularly spaced practice sessions
7. Always listen to and follow the direction of instructors or seniors.
8. Do not be overly ambitious.
9. Frequently inspect your own achievements.
10. Always follow a routine training schedule.
11. Repeatedly practice all techniques already learned.
12. When you learn new techniques, learn thoroughly the theory and philosophy as well.
13. When you begin to feel idle, try to overcome this.
14. Cleanliness is required after training. Keep yourself and your surroundings clean.

World Tang Soo Do Association Insignia

Six Stars:
Represents the six inhabited continents and shows that Tang Soo Do is now worldwide.
Red Circle:
Unity and brotherhood.
Means our organization covers the world.
Bottom Belt:
Master's Belt - represents the ultimate goal of all Tang Soo Do students.
Um, Yang:
Red and blue half-circle symbol represents universal concept of opposing but complimentary forces. It is also the central symbol of the Korean flag where Tang Soo Do originated.
Flying Sidekick:
Represents the special and unique character of Tang soo Do and the whole person concept.
Mastering the art of Tang Soo Do.
Color Combination:
Red, blue, black.

Reference: TANG SOO DO - Student's Manual
By The World Tang Soo Do Association

Characteristics of Tang Soo Do Differentiation with Sports
Ideal Goal Subjective, set by self Objective, set by others
Object of training Increase mental, physical, and spiritual power Win in competitions against others
Application of
For daily life For specific competition
Importance of results Results enhance the whole person Results are only as good as competitive outcome
Teacher's influence considered lifetime teacher, called Sah Bum Nim Considered motivator during competitive years, called coach
Technical achievement Can be achieved individually Need group or team
Depth of training Way of life centered on mental, physical, and spiritual growth

Focus on physical development

Philosophy, history,and tradition Heavy emphasis on roots
Not necessary
Training area Anywhere since emphasisis on way of life Need gym, field, ring, court, etc.
Physical size not important - use vital points(Kop So) Body sizes affects heavily
Character building Major emphasis Minor importance
Protocol and etiquette Established code of conduct and protocol Not practiced -little discipline required

Meditation, ki hap, bow,
Abdominal breathing
Very important Not practiced
Spiritual and inner beauty Emphasized Solely physical
Psychological remedy Very effective in dealing with fear,anger, worry, frustration Remedy for stress, some help
Concentration Must be highly developed and used during entire session Some degree
Building leadership Very important as person advances through the ranks Not important
Organized ranking of advancement Tied to individual growth and maturity Tied to team need and physical skills

Reference: Tang Soo Do Essence Volume I by Jae C. Shin.
This book available for purchase - visit www.worldtangsoodo.com

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