What is Soo Bahk Do?
Soo Bahk Do is an open hand (Karate style) martial art from Korea which was created and taught by Hwang Lee and subsequently H.C. Hwang (his son) who succeeded him.
Soo Bahk Do means historical Korean fighting art; Tang Soo Do is the Korean way of expressing the Chinese Characters (Hanja) and when translated literally means ‘Tang’ (from the Chinese Dynasty) ‘hand’ ‘way’. This is now often referred to as the ‘open-handed way’ because the characters are the same as Karate-do in Japanese.
The Moo Duk Kwan, which is Korean for ‘School of Martial Virtue’, was formed (and subsequently trademarked) by Hwang Kee in Korea in 1945.
Soo Bahk Do is taught throughout the Moo Duk Kwan and other World Moo Duk Kwan Inc authorised schools throughout the world.
Soo Bahk Do (Tang Soo Do) Moo Duk Kwan combines the fighting strategies of Soo Bahk Ki, a Korean style, the Japanese martial arts of Okinawa and the Chinese styles from both the north and south of the country with the honourable ethical code and philosophies of Tao, Lao Tzu and Confucius.
Where did Soo Bahk Do originate from?
Soo Bahk Do has deep historical origins with links extending back to Soo Bahk Ki, one of the original and native Korean martial arts. See Subak below.
But Soo Bahk Do as it is known and taught today owes much to Grand Master Hwang Kee.
Hwang Kee created a style, Hwa Soo Do, which was basically a fusion of the Korean Martial Arts he knew and the Chinese arts he studied whilst in China.
Hwang Kee started the Moo Duk Kwan martial arts school in Korea at the end of 1945.
The Korean people, however, were more accustomed to the words ‘Tang Soo Do’ so Hwang Kee decided to change the name of his style to Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan.
Then in the late 1950’s, Hwang Kee came across the ancient Korean art of Subak in the Muye Dobo Tongji (a comprehensive illustrated manual of the Ancient Korean Martial Arts).
Hwang Kee developed the Subak further and taught this through the Moo Duk Kwan. He then changed the name of the art once again, this time to Soo Bahk Do as he wanted to help Korea to re-engage with its history and customs.
Despite the Moo Duk Kwan being the largest school in Korea at the time, it wasn’t the sole one. By around 1956 there were 4 additional Kwans that had been added to the 5 original Taekwondo kwans (of which the Moo Duk Kwan was one).
This led to calls from the Korean Government for a unification of the kwans and schools to unite under a single system. Today this system is known as Taekwondo.
A divide was created amongst the Moo Duk Kwan as a result of this. One group continued to follow Hwang Kee and his methods as taught by the Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, under the guidance of the World Moo Duk Kwan Inc.
The other group joined the 8 Kwans to form Taekwondo, which would follow the Kukkiwon syllabus. The World Taekwondo Federation now runs Taekwondo, which is a competitive sport of the Olympic Games.