What is Tang Soo Do?
Meaning Of Tang Soo Do
Literally translated the word "Tang" refers to the Tang Dynasty of China, which reflects
the shared cultural background between China and Korea (617-907 AD). "Soo" means
hand and "Do" means way of life or art.
The exact origin of Tang Soo Do, as well as any of the martial arts in general, is
obscure, though 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 world, as they were needed to defend
The ancestral art of Korean Tang Soo Do can be traced back approximately 2,000
years. At that time, Korea was divided into three kingdoms. Paekche was founded
in 18 BC in southwest Korea, Koguryo in 37 BC, and northern Korea Silla in 57 BC
in the southeast Korean peninsula. 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 murals,
ruins, and remains, which depicted the martial arts in those days. Among the
three kingdoms, the Silla Dynasty was the most famous for development of the
martial arts. A corps formed by young aristocrats who were 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 that time. Most Korean martial arts trace
their roots to this group. Our five codes of Tang Soo Do originated by a monk
"Won Kwang", is a part of their and our heritage. The unified Silla kingdom was
overthrown by a warlord, Wang Kun, in 918 AD and a new kingdom called "Koryo"
lasted 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 among the military. However, more
importantly, this art also became very popular with the general public. The very
first complete martial arts book was written at this time the "Mooyae Dobo
Tongi". It was written in 1790 AD and contained illustrations that substantiate
the theory that "Soo Bahk Ki" the formal name of Tang Soo Do, had quickly
developed into a sophisticated art of combat.
The subsequent occupation of Korea by the Japanese military regime took place from
1909-1945. During this period, practicing and teaching martial arts was
restricted. After World Was II, this restriction was lifted and several martial
arts training schools began to emerge:
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 San Sup,Chun
These Kwans organized their own organizations respectively
and Master Hwang Kee organized the "Korean Soo Bahk Do Federation" on November
9th 1945. Beside the Soo Bahk Do Federation, there were various types of other
martial arts called "Kong Soo" or "Tae Soo" existing in Korea. In 1965, all of
these various systems were united into one organization, called the Korean Tae
Kwon Do Federation and the art was called "Tae Kwon Do" uniformly.