The History of Tang Soo Do
Tang Soo Do is a
relatively modern Korean martial art based upon the ancient Korean art of
Soo Bahk Do, which dates back to the 6th Century. However, the exact
origin of Tang Soo Do is obscure. Some Japanese Karate experts insist that
the art is of Japanese origin; some say it came from Okinawa; others say
it began in China with Bodhidarma and spread from there.
beginning of the Yi Dynasty (1392-1910), the National Martial Arts Manual
was published, and the term Soo Bahk Do became widely used. During the
occupation of Korea by Japan (1907 - 1945) the practice of native martial
arts was prohibited. This prohibition forced many Korean Soo Bahk Do
Masters to emigrate, or to practice secretly. Tang Soo Do was developed by
Grand Master Hwang Kee. He mastered Tae Kyun and Soo Bahk Do at the age of
22. Upon his travels to Northern China in 1936, he encountered a Chinese
variation of 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 Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, even though it was officially
registered in Korea on November 9, 1945 as the Korean Soo Bahk Do
At the beginning of the modern era of Korean martial arts, Tang Soo Do was the most popular term for the merged martial arts, however, at that time, the Korean political leader was concerned about establishing Korean value based on Korean nationalism. The political leaders recognized the popularity of Korean martial arts around the world, but were opposed to the use of the name Tang Soo Do for the art, as it sounded like a Chinese martial art. In 1964, a government sponsored small group created a new name for the Korean martial arts: Tae Kwon Do.
The World Tang Soo Do Association
still respects the original term, Tang Soo Do, and intends to preserve its
heritage and value as a traditional way or path. So Tang Soo Do and Tae
Kwon Do are divided principally, with Tang Soo Do striving to remain as a
traditional martial art, while Tae Kwon Do held its world games and
The International Tang Soo Do Federation (ITSDF) was formed in 1989. The United Kingdom Tang Soo Do Federation currently serves as its administrative and technical headquarters. Tang Soo Do has since spread throughout the world. Practiced by champions like Chuck Norris, it is a proven method of fighting with a long and proud tradition of victories.
Our training is traditional, encompassing the refinement of technique, hyung (forms) and dae ryun (sparring). We encourage the pursuit of excellence in our Art and applaud our students' and instructors' achievements both within our discipline and in their scholastic and personal achievements.
The bedrock has always been and continues to be its emphasis on respect for the traditions, beliefs, and practices, which characterize Tang Soo Do.
Kuk Ki, The Korean Flag sym-bolizes much of the thought, philosophy and mysticism of the orient. The symbol imprinted on the center is called the "Tae Keuk", it is a circle which is divided and yet joined. The circle itself represents the absolute or the necessary unity of all things. The upper red section is called the Yang and the lower blue section is called the Um or, more commonly known, Ying. The Um Yank is the ancient symbol of the creation of the universe and shows the differences between day and night, hot and cold, Good and Evil. It is a representation of opposites and also a representation of how all parts are needed in order to be whole. The Um (Ying) represents contraction and assimilation and the Yang represents expansion and separation. The bars located in each corner of the flag represents the elements in the universe. The three solid bars in the upper left represents Heaven, the bars in the lower right corner represent earth. The bars in the lower left corner represents fire and the bars in the upper right corner represent Water. From the Tae Keuk Ki we learn that all parts of humanity, both good and bad are required if we are to ever find center.
Very simply, our goal is to teach self-respect and respect for others through the study and practice of Tang Soo Do, a very historic and traditional Korean discipline of the martial arts. The ideas of respect and tradition are pervasive in all of our activities and for all students at every level of achievement.
On the spectrum of martial arts, Tang Soo Do is an external, hard discipline. We teach forms (hyungs), sparring, weapons, breaking, and self-defense techniques. We expect everyone to learn basic Korean martial arts terminology and the language of courtesy. We take part in martial arts tournaments across the country and internationally, hold tournaments within our own Federation, and offer a variety of activities for our young people-…everything from summer camps to cookouts to sleepovers. We take part in community activities by giving exhibitions in schools, fairs, and taking part in Special Olympics activities as well as community service fundraisers for various local organizations.
Tang Soo Do Student Creed
8 Key Concepts
Upon entering the Do-Jang (Training Place/Floor) students must bow first to the National Flags. If the class has already begun before you enter, you will, after bowing, wait for the instructor's acknowledgment of your bow and the instructor’s permission to join the class.
When class is to officially begin, all students will stop what they are doing and face the instructor at attention. All students will quickly line up according to rank and seniority. The instructor will then bow in the entire class.
At the end of the class, the instructor will bow the class out. Anytime a student enters or leaves the Do-Jang, they must bow.
Do Bahk (uniform)
Black Belt- 1" Black trim on Lapels, Cuffs, Hem line of Jacket. Last Name printed on back, optional.
Apprentice Black Belt- 1" Black trim on Lapels, Cuffs, Hem line of Jacket. Red Belt, no stripes worn in class. Black belt, no stripes at tournament.
Red Belt - Red trim on lapels.
Green Belt - Green trim on lapels.
All Ranks - Federation Patch on left chest.
Flags (optional) - U.S. Flag on left sleeve. Korean flag on right sleeve, red yang on top.
Additional Patches - Jr. Leader, Assistant Instructor, Instructor, or other achievement patches go on right sleeve under Korean Flag.
Belt Ranking System
1st Degree Black Belt
Apprentice Black Belt
1 Gup Red Belt
1 1/2 Gup Red Belt
2 Gup Red Belt
2 1/2 Gup Red Belt
3 Gup Red Belt
3 1/2 Gup Red Belt
Apprentice Red Belt
4 Gup Green Belt
4 1/2 Gup Green Belt
5 Gup Green Belt
5 1/2 Gup Green Belt
6 Gup Green Belt
6 1/2 Gup Green Belt
Apprentice Green Belt
7 Gup Purple Belt
7 1/2 Gup Purple Belt
8 Gup Blue Belt
8 1/2 Gup Blue Belt
Apprentice Blue Belt
9 Gup Orange Belt
9 1/2 Gup Orange Belt
Apprentice Orange Belt
10 Gup White Belt
Commands in Training
Commands in Training
Punching / Hand Technique
Forms / Hyungs