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History of Tang Soo Do



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The martial art of Tang Soo Do is relatively modern. However, its basis, the Korean art of Soo Bahk Do, dates back many centuries. TangSoo Do is a composite style, being 60% Soo Bahk Do, 30% northern Chinese, and 10% southern Chinese. Our kicking techniques, for which Tang Soo Do is unsurpassed, are based on Soo Bahk. Soo Bahk was first developed during the Silla Dynasty (618-935 A.D.), but enjoyed its flowering during the Koryo Dynasty (935-1392 A.D.).

Tang Soo Do is both a hard and soft style, deriving its hardness in part from Soo Bahk and its flowing movements from the northern Chinese systems.

The man who developed Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan, Grandmaster Hwang Kee, was a martial arts prodigy. He mastered Tae Kyun (another Korean system not related to Tae Kwan Do) and Soo Bahk Do at the age of 22. At that time (1936), the Grandmaster traveled to northern China. There he encountered a Chinese variation of the martial artistry called the Tang Method. From 1936 to 1945 he combined Soo Bahk Do with the Tang Method and developed what was to be known as Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan.

Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan is a brotherhood. It is a school of stopping inner and outer conflict and developing virtue according to the way of the worthy hand. It is not, a sport, and is not essentially competitive, though it has been used in tournament competition. Tang Soo Do has great practical combat applications. It is a classical martial art, and its purpose is to develop every aspect of the self, in order to create a mature personality who totally integrates the intellect, body, emotions and spirit. This total integration helps to create a person who is free from conflict and who can deal with the outside world in a mature, intelligent, forthright and virtuous manner.

Over the past thirty years thousands of Americans have studied Tang Soo Do in Korea. Koreans instructors have been sent around the world, and there are now major Tang Soo Do organizations in more than 16 countries. There are roughly 200,000 Tang Soo Do students world wide, with over 20,000 Dan holders.

Anyone who studied with the Grandmaster knows how demanding he was (He was once heard to have said: “If you want to do front and reverse punches right, you must spend 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for 3 years doing nothing else"). The Traditional Tang Soo Do Organization trains its students to the same high standard, upholding the traditions that have made Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan and its students the great institution they are today.


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