American Black Belt Academy
Tang Soo Do
Traditional Korean Martial Art
History and Principles of Tang Soo Do
The martial art of Tang Soo Do was developed by Grandmaster Hwang Kee with
foundations in the ancient Korean art of Soo Bahk Do dating back about 2,000 years.
The style of Tang Soo Do incorporates the ‘hard’ style of Soo Bahk Do with some
influence of Chinese Kung Fu, a ‘soft’ style of martial art. Tang Soo Do was the
foundation for Tae Kwon Do and has some similarities with Japanese karate.
The meaning of Tang Soo Do is “the way of the open hand” which reflects this art as empty handed (un-armed).
|Concepts & Philosophies In
Tang Soo Do Training
- Be loyal to your country
- Obedience to parents and elders
- Honor friendship
- Never retreat in battle
- Respect all life
The Hwarang Dan were a corps of warriors that developed the
“open-hand fighting” art of Soo Bahk Do and were instrumental
in unifying Korea under the Silla Dynasty around 668 AD. The
Hwarang followed five secular commandments (i.e., a code of
ethics) given to them by Buddhist monk Won’gwang
(Wongwang). Hwarang is translated as "flowering youth" who
were schooled not only in combat skills but in religion, the arts,
and literature and so were a group of 'warrior scholars'. The
spirit of the Hwarang emphasizes wisdom over violence.
|Concentration (mind and |
body as one)
Code of the Hwarang Dan
Martial Arts in Meadville, PA
The founder of Tang Soo Do was Grandmaster Hwang Kee. Through his early life, he studied
and practiced Chinese and Okinawan martial arts which he combined in founding the Korean
martial arts organization of Moo Duk Kwan (martial virtue school) on November 9, 1945, three
months after the end of World War II and the Japanese occupation of Korea. He later re-named
the art to Tang Soo Do. The foundation of Tang Soo Do is the Moo Do which translates to
“martial way” and is the guiding philosophy in the martial art practiced by Grandmaster Hwang
Kee. The term Moo translates to ‘stop or prevent conflict or war’ on which Grandmaster Hwang
Kee expanded to “stopping and preventing both internal and external conflict and promoting
harmony within and without.” As such, Grandmaster Hwang Kee emphasized that training in
Tang Soo Do goes beyond physical techniques to include living a life of great principles.
One of the few historical texts on Korean martial arts is the Muye
Dobo Tongji (an illustrated manual of ancient Korean martial
arts) written in 1790 by Yi Duk-moo and Park Je-ga by order of
King Jungjo. According to King Jungjo’s introduction, this text
was written to “record this instruction for posterity” and “correct
the misunderstanding of the historical warrior arts and revive the
original roots of the systems in order to refine them into art
forms.” The text includes open-hand and weapons Chinese and
Japanese fighting styles and is one of the few places that
documents what are likely techniques from the ancient Korean
art of Soo Bahk Do, originally practiced by the Hwarang warriors
largely during the 6th & 7th centuries of the Silla Dynasty.
- Hwang, Hyun Chul and Johnson, John R., 2009, Introduction and Historical Background, in: Hwang, Hyun Chul, English
translation of Moo Do Chul Hahk by Hwang Kee (originally published 1993 in Korean), Dog Ear Publishing, LLC.
- Kee, Hwang, 1993, Moo Do Chul Hahk, English translation by Hyun Chul Hwang, 2009, Dog Ear Publishing, LLC.
- Kee, Hwang 1995, Soo Bahk Do Tang Soo Do, volume 1, Paragon Press, 428 p.
- Kim, Hak-Song, 1997, Hyangga and the Hwarang, Seoul Journal of Korean Studies, vol. 10, p. 19-44.
- Kim, Sang H., 2000, translator, Muye Dobo Tongji: Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts (written in 1790 by Yi Duk-
moo and Park Je-ga by order of King Jungjo), English translation, Turtle Press, Hartford, 399 p.
- The Hwarang Warriors http://hwarangdo.com/hwarang.htm, web page of the World Hwa Rang Do Association, updated March 1,
1999, accessed January 14, 2013.
|Grandmaster Hwang Kee
|Kwon Bup Chong Do (open-handed methods)
from Muye Dobo Tongji