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Hwang Kee

Hwang Kee

HWANG, Kee (Hangul: 황기; Hwang Gi; November 9, 1914 – July 14, 2002) was one of the most important figures in the development of Korean martial arts. As the founder of Moo Duk Kwan, his teaching went on to establish the foundations of some aspects of Traditional Taekwondo styles such as Moo Duk Kwan TaekwondoTang Soo Do, and Soo Bahk Do).

While many of the founders of the Nine Kwans were primarily influenced by Karate, Hwang is credited with imbuing his school of martial arts with more Chinese influences such as Kung Fu  and T'ai Chi  as well as ancient Korean influences such as Taekkyon and traditional Korean forms derived from the Muye Dobo Tongji, an ancient Korean text on combat techniques.


Hwang Kee was born on November 9, 1914 in Jang Dan, Kyong Ki province of Korea, while it was under Japanese occupation. His father was a scholar and teacher, thus Kee was one of the few young men in the province to complete high school in 1935. He first studied martial arts, Soo Bahk and Tae Kyon while in school. Following graduation, he went to work for the Manchurian Railroad, where he claimed to have learned the martial art of Kuk Sool under Chinese Master Ynag Kuk Jin, although some of his peers doubt this assertion. Master Won Kyuk Lee of the Chung Do Kwan, claimed that Kee was a student at his kwan, gaining the equivalent of a green belt. Kee disputed Lee's claim, and acknowledged only Yang Kuk Jin as his teacher. Hwang returned to Korea from China in 1937, he wanted to continue his martial education, but the Japanese occupation limited his options. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, while working for the Cho Sun Rail Way Bureau, he began to study Okinawan Karate by reading books available at the local library.

The Founding of Moo Duk Kwan[]

In 1945, grandmaster Hwang Kee formed his first school. Initially he titled his first school Hwa Soo Do ("Flowering Hand Way") Moo Duk Kwan, and his first two attempts at running a school were unsuccessful. In the early 1950s, he changed the name of his school to Tang Soo Moo Duk Kwan because Tang Soo (a direct Korean translation of Chinese and Japanese "Empty Hand") was more familiar to Koreans from their exposure to Japanese martial arts. Much of the philosophy and many of the original forms (poomse) and techniques were direct derivations of Shotokan Karate, first created by Gichin Funakoshi.

In 1957, Kee claimed to have made several major discoveries in his reading the four hundred-page woodblock print Muye Dobo Tongji. Hwang Kee incorporated these teachings into his Tang Soo Do discipline and re-named the art he created Soo Bahk Do. By 1953 and onward until 1960, the Moo Duk Kwan had risen to become biggest martial arts organization in Korea, with close to 75% of all martial artists in Korea practicing Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan. In 1960, the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association was incorporated and registered with the Korean government as the traditional Korean martial art.

During the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Moo Duk Kwan in 1995, Hwang Kee officially renamed the art from Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan to Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan

Among his accomplishments, Hwang is credited with the development of the Yook Ro forms (adapted from the Mute Domo Tongji) and the forms So Rim Jang Kwon, Hwa Sun, and Tae Kuk Kwan (adapted from Kung Fu and T'ai Chi).


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