Tang Soo Do was developed in Korea, and is a martial art which is a fusion of different ancient fighting techniques commonly found in traditional fighting art of Subak, Shotokan Karate, Kung Fu, and Taekkyeon. Tang Soo Do includes sparring contact sports events, where the contact level is controlled and moderate. The practitioners conclude that the sparring events are meant for people to gain a better understanding of the techniques, and be mentally prepared to execute focused body manoeuvres in crunch and stressful situations.
History / Origins
‘Tang Soo Do’, is the Korean version of ‘Hanja’ characters, and the Chinese call it ‘Chinese hand way’, ‘Tang’ being added to felicitate the patrons and its founder the Tang Dynasty. Simply put it would mean, ‘The way of the Chinese hand.’ Though, Japanese prefer to interpret the characters as ‘karate-do’.
The trail leading to the origin of Tang Soo Do has gone cold, which gives room for speculations. Japanese Karate experts are adamant that the credit for this martial art should go to them. While some say the Oscars should to go to Okinawa, and some want it for the Chinese. Let the sleeping dogs lie, carrying forward, as the times changed, so did Tang Soo Do’s traditional names. And, it changed names like, Soo Bahk, Hwa Soo, Kwon Bop, and Taek Kyun.
It is also believed that the techniques of this martial art are as old as the human race. Coming to more recent times when Korea was occupied by Japan between 1910 and 1945, different martial arts of Korea were banned. However, they were still secretly practised, and some generous Japanese Karate practitioners also shared their techniques with the underground schools. But once the peninsula was liberated from Japanese occupation, different martial art schools sprung up, and it is said that Won Kuk Lee, the founder of Chung Do Kwan, for the first time uttered the words ‘Tang Soo Do’, to refer to the Korean martial art which had the blend of different fighting techniques, and the name stuck.
During the course of time, Tang Soo Do had its share of rough patches, and owing to inner conflicts, various members of Tang Soo Doo broke off. But Moo Duk Kwan today continues to represent Tang Soo Do in the same spirit as founded by Hwang Kee, and is headed by Hwang Kee’s son, Hyun Chul Hwang. The Amateur Athletic Union Taekwondo, has embraced Tang Soo Do hyeong in competitions, and organises point-sparring for various traditional Korean fight styles. Chuck Norris added new dimension to Tang Soo Do by evolving a new style, Chun Kuk Do, from it.
By the late 1930s, Hwang Kee had become proficient in the native Korean fighting styles of Soo Bahk Do, and Taekkyeon. Then the era of Japanese occupation began, and they tried to cripple the regional martial arts by imposing imprisonment penalties for anyone practicing them. Hwang kee could not remain unaffected by these, and he ended up drawing the attention of the Japanese secret police in 1936, and was eventually forced to flee on foot to Manchuria. Later one night he scaled the Great Wall of China, and entered China where he was destined to stay for next 20 years. There the Master Yang, the martial art expert of China, taught Hwang Kee a northern fighting style, Yang Kung-fu. Later, when World War II ended, so did Hwang Kee’s exile and he returned to his homeland.
Post independence, the suppressed martial arts sprung up again, with different kwans highlighting their techniques, and Hwang Kee did his share of developing a version of Tang Soo Do, which ended up becoming ‘Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan’.