History of Tang Soo Do

Tang Soo Do Distinctives

Tang Soo Do is a Korean style of martial arts that is distinguished for high, jumping, and spinning kicks. Because Tang Soo Do is an art based on classical form and not specifically on competition or sports form, the collection of techniques is far more extensive than most other forms of martial arts. Tang Soo Do specifically complements its wide variety of empty hand techniques with weapons training, such as Staff, Sword, Nunchaku, Tonfa, and Sai.

The Origin of Tang Soo Do

Tang Soo Do means “the way of the (Chinese) open hand.” Tang Soo Do began in the Korean peninsula in AD 37 during the Kokuryo Dynasty. By 668 in the Silla Dynasty an elite caste of highly skilled warriors emerged. The warriors came from the Southeastern kingdom and began conquering neighboring kingdoms such as the kingdom of Baekje. These early Tang Soo Do martial artists were named Hwarang Warriors. Hwarang means “the flower of youth.” Because of Korea’s proximity to China, many of the techniques of their martial arts were adopted and modified by the Koreans. Soon the Hwarang warriors were distinct for their vast knowledge of weapons, and their unmatched jumping and spinning techniques. They were truly the highfliers of early martial arts. In AD 935-1392, during the Kokuryo Dynasty, they began to develop the martial arts into something they could teach to their military. The result was a martial arts system called Soo Bakh Do and began to incorporate even more weapons to the current military martial arts. They would often hold tournaments to determine who would be the leaders of their military regimes. This militarization of early Tang Soo Do happened during the Yi Dynasty between the years AD 1392-1907.

In 1907 Japan invaded Korea and forced an early end to the Korean Dynasty.  It also ended the warrior cast. Japan brought in their martial arts such as Judo, Kendo, and Karate. When these new martial arts were introduced, there was an even exchange of ideas, forms, and techniques. During this time five new martial arts formed in Korea: Moo Duk Kwan, Changmu Kwan, Sangmu Kwan, Jido Kwan, and Chungu Kwan. Each blended the Japanese and Korean Martial Arts.

Tang Soo Do Today

While Tang Soo Do, the descendant of Hwarang Do, was in the most part kept pure from this blending of the martial arts, several of the Japanese kata, were adopted as Tang Soo Do Hyungs (Forms). In 1964 the Korean government attempted to unite all Korean styles under the name Tae Soo Do. This eventually failed. They then tried only a year later to unite all Korean styles under Taekwondo. While many went along this way, the Grand Master of Tang Soo Do along with Grand Masters of several other styles chose to keep their style unique and true to its heritage. Today the Tang Soo Do we practice continues to contain and maintain many of its 2000 year tradition in the martial arts

A Link to Christ

Tang Soo Do began only a couple of years after the resurrection of Christ Jesus. It seems only fitting that we learn a form or martial art that can trace its heritage as far back as we can as Christians.


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