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Tang Soo Do, known historically as Soo Bahk Do, is a Korean style of Karate very popular throughout the world. It is also regarded as one of the most Traditional of all martial arts. According to ancient wall paintings and the Royal Court Historian, Tang Soo Do dates back to 57 B.C. During the Koryo (930 A.D.) and Lee (1375-1910 A.D.) dynasties, many young men practiced Soo Bahk Do on the Korean Peninsula. Tang Soo Do prospered during the Koryo Dynasty, about 935 A.D. The warriors of that time were trained in Soo Bahk Do, the art of hand and arm fighting, in order to develop themselves for combat effectiveness.
Today, almost every major city throughout the world offers Tang Soo Do instruction. The advancement each individual makes in this art is noted by the color of the belt that one wears. There are five different belts in Tang Soo Do with progressive ranking within each individual belt. The beginner's belt is White, which symbolizes the winter snow and represents the beginning. Orange belt symbolizes the budding of a new flower in the early Spring indicating the beginning of growth towards maturity. Green belt symbolizes the spring grass thereby showing progress. The Red belt symbolizes the summer flower as it is in full bloom. Finally the Midnight Blue belt, which has seven classes symbolizes the autumn sky and its infinity. The color Midnight Blue is also a symbol of peace and hope. Today black has been officially adopted for use in the West as the highest belt. The person that holds and maintains a Midnight Blue belt is known as a "Dan" for his or her knowledge of the art. However, other reasons exist as to why Midnight Blue is the chosen color for the highest belt. First, in Korea, black is a symbol of sadness; and second, ancient Soo Bahk Do warriors never wore black belts. However, even though some practitioners still prefer Midnight Blue for Traditional purposes, both colors are correct in the United States.
The Moo Duk Kwan is the Tang soo Do association of the Republic of Korea. Tang Soo Do was the original martial art recognized by the Ministry of Education in Korea in the early 1950's. All other styles were classified as sport martial arts at one time. Grandmaster Hwang Kee, having studied in China for nine years, established the Moo Duk Kwan in 1945. This has made Tang Soo Do a heavily Chinese influenced martial art similar in many respects to Wu Shu or Kung Fu.
In 1947, the first exams for Midnight Blue belt or "Dans" were given. Only two students passed. Since then the number of Midnight Blue belt holders has increase to over 25,000 throughout the present 4,000,000 students in the world.
In 1950, Master Wha Yong Chung began training in Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan and eventually was promoted to his current 8th degree Midnight Blue belt. Master Chung is also listed in the Tang Soo Do World Who's Who in Tang Soo Do. Master Chung is of Korean descent and has become an American citizen and does instruction in Denver, Colorado. Master Chung was trained and certified by Grand Master Hwang Kee and is the Tang Soo Do Senior Advisor for the United States. Master Wha Yong Chung (Henry Chung) has been the primary Master Instructor and Ceritifier of the Tang Soo Do Concepts Instructors.
Master Cordell Pacheco, of Loveland Colorado, is the 2nd Primary instructor under the direction of Master Wha Yong Chung and has Certified many Tang Soo Do Concepts Students. Master Pacheco is well known for his knowledge in other Martial Arts because of his studies in Kung Fu and Hapkido. Master Pacheco started his studies in the Martial Arts in 1977.
The philosophy of Tang Soo Do (Tang Hand Rule) Moo Duk Kwan (Institute of Martial Virtue) can be summed up as follows:
"The basic purpose to study Tang Soo Do is not to injure the enemy, but instead to develop a person who is more advanced in the mental and physical aspects of life. It is based on the various nature principles of Oriental philosophy. This kind of concept contributes to peace and happiness for all mankind."
TANG SOO DO HISTORY IN BRIEF
The martial art of Tang Soo Do is relatively modern. However, it's basis, the Korean art of Soo Bahk Do, dates back many Centuries. Tang Soo Do is a composite style 60% Soo Bahk Do Korean Style, 30% Northern Chinese styles, and 10% Southern Chinese styles. Kicking techniques, for which Tang Soo Do is unsurpassed, are based on Soo Bahk Do, which was first developed during the Silla dynasty, 935-1392 A.D. Tang Soo Do is both a hard and soft style, deriving its hardness in part from Soo Bahk Do and its soft flowing movements from the Northern Chinese systems.
The man who developed Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan, a school for stopping inner and outer conflict and developing virtue, Grandmaster Hwang Kee, is a martial arts prodigy having mastered Tae Kyun (another Korean system not related to Tae Kwon Do) and Soo Bahk Do at his age of twenty-two. In 1936, he traveled to Northern China. There he encountered a Chinese variation of martial artistry called the Tang Method and developed what is to be known today as Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan.
Tang Soo Do is not a Sport. Although it is essentially competitive, it also has many excellent combat applications. It is a classical martial art, and its purpose is to develop every aspect of one's self, in order to create a mature person integrating intellect, body emotions, and spirit. This total integration helps to create a person who is free from inner conflict and who can deal with the outside world in a mature, intelligent, forthright, and virtuous manner.
Anyone studying with the Grandmaster knew how demanding he was. He was once heard to have said, "If you want to do front and reverse punches right, you must spend ten hours a day, six days a week, for three years, doing nothing else.
The fact that the Grandmaster and his teachings command such respect and devoted effort from so many individuals shows the qualities that characterize both the Grandmaster and Tang Soo Do practitioners. An openness, personal closeness, Independence, rock-hard determination, maturity, and unshakable solidarity are qualities binding us together and assuring future generations that they will inherit the way of Tang Soo Do. Today the ministry in Korea recognizes the Moo Duk Kwan Style founded by Grandmaster Hwang Kee for both Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do practitioners. Tang Soo Do Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan is a traditional Korean martial art founded by Grandmaster Hwang Kee in 1945. Soon after his death in July, 2002, his son, H. C. Hwang, became Kwan Jang Nim. The United States Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan was founded in 1975.
Ancient drawings of the Poomsae Warrior Volume 2 Grand Master Hwang Kee