What is Tang Soo Do?
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 frequently referred to as the ‘open-handed way’ because the characters are the same as Karate-do in Japanese.
Tang Soo Do takes its ‘hard’ elements largely from Soo Bahk Do, whilst its softer more flowing actions are derived from the systems of Northern China.
It is considered to be a classical martial art, rather than a sport (due to its roots in Soo Bahk Do) but despite it not being competitive it has very useful applications in combat situations.
The aim of Tang Soo Do is to help the practitioner to develop and hone all aspects of oneself such as the body, mind, intellect, spirit and emotions to form a complete personality with no inner conflict.
This individual can then face the world with a clear and mature outlook.
Where did Tang Soo Do originate from?
Tang Soo Do is a fairly modern Korean martial art, although the art on which it is largely based (Soo Bahk Do) has a history which spans hundreds of years.
The renowned kicking techniques of Tang Soo Do originate from Soo Bahk, which first came to prominence during the Shilla Dynasty (57BC – 935AD) but really took off between 918-1392AD throughout the Koryo Dynasty.
There are numerous theories surrounding the specific origins of Tang Soo Do, with some suggestions from Japanese Karate experts that it started in Japan, whilst others claim it began in Okinawa, the southern-most prefecture (administrative division) of Japan. There are also assertions that its origins were in China and it expanded from there.
Tang Soo Do combines Soo Bahk Do with both northern Chinese arts, in the main part and the southern Chinese arts to a lesser degree.
Away from the Far east where there are various derivatives of the art, ‘Tang Soo Do’ mainly refers to the Korean martial art that was endorsed by Grandmaster Hwang Kee and this popular and growing art is taught in the UK and the rest of the world.
In 1974 Master Kang Uk Lee (one of the Grand Master’s best students) brought Tang Soo Do to the UK and was subsequently asked to head the United Kingdom Tang Soo (Soo Bahk) Do Federation.
Grand Master Lee then started the International (UK) Tang Soo (Soo Bahk) Do Federation (ITSDF) in 1989.