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Early KwanJangNim

From left to right: Byung Jick Ro, unknown, Byung In Yoon, Sang Sap Chun, Won Kuk Lee, November 1946

The phrase The Nine Kwans is used to refer to nine of the most prominent martial arts schools to open in Korea following the end of Japanese occupation at the end of World War II: five schools opening before the Korean War (The Five Kwans) and four major schools opening after the Korean War. Each school practiced its own martial arts style, so sometimes the name of a kwan is also used to refer to the style of martial arts practiced by that school. We say "nine schools" but many of these schools later went on to open annex locations that practiced similar styles; ultimately the total number of schools in Korea numbered much more than nine.

During the 35-year Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945), the practice of many Korean folk traditions (including martial arts) was prohibited. During the occupation, Korean men were sometimes conscripted into the Japanese military; there they might learn Karate as part of their military training. In other cases, the men who started the Nine Kwans had previously traveled to China or Japan to study martial arts during their travels. In a few cases, some men had the opportunity to study Taekkyon in secrecy during the occupation.

When the occupation ended, new martial arts schools immediately began to open in Korea, primarily combining elements of Karate, Taekkyon, and Kung Fu. It was not uncommon for these schools to borrow space to operate; for example, Moo Duk Kwan would use storage rooms at railroad stations; Chang Moo Kwan originally operated out of a local YMCA, etc. 


After the Korean War, students from the original Five Kwans began opening their schools (these were called "annex kwans"). By 1960, there were 40 kwans in Korea. Shortly after the Korean War, at the urging of the South Korean government, the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) was established to consolidate and unify the kwans. By 1974, the KTA had succeeded in consolidating the 40 schools into the 9 schools shown here, the "major" post-war martial arts schools in Korea. By 1978 the KTA had coordinated the Unification Proclamation, in which all 9 remaining kwans agreed to abide by Kukkiwon-style taekwondo and rank promotions. Note however that many of the schools split during this period, with some factions still practicing (even today) their original martial arts styles.


Kwan Founded Founder Influences Meaning of Name Also Known As Known For
These first five schools were started after World War II, but before the Korean War; these are the Five Kwans.
Chung Do Kwan 1944 Kyuk Won Lee



Kung Fu

"Blue Wave" School (youthful vigor) "National Police dojang"

High Kicks

Side Kicks

Song Do Kwan 1944 Byung Jick Ro


Kung Fu

"Pine Tree School" (green and long-lived)

Later bcame known as Song Moo Kwan

Moo Duk Kwan 1946 Hwang Kee

Kung Fu


Muye Dobo Tongji

- "The Railroad Dojang"

Taoist philosopy

Development of Tang Soo Do

The use of Midnight Blue rather than Black Belts

YMCA Kwon Bop Bu 1946

Byung In Yoon  then later Lee Nam Suk and

Kim Soon Bae


Kung l for Martial-Arts Development

Later became known as Chang Moo Kwan
Yun Moo Kwan 1946 Sang Sap Chun


Kung Fu

School for Martial r became known as Ji Do Kwan

(School for Wisdom's Way)

Jidokwan, known for excellence in tournment sparring
The following schools were started after the Korean War, by students of the first five schools; for this reason they are called Anex Kwans.
Han Moo Kwan 1954 Lee Kyo Yoon Yun Moo Kwan
Oh Do Kwan 1955

Choi Hong Hi

Nam Tae Hi

Han Cha Kyo

Chung Do Kwan School of My Way
Kang Duk Kwan 1953

Park Chul Hee

Hong Jong Pyo

Chang Moo Kwan
Jung Do Kwan 1956 Lee Yong Woo Chung Do l of the Righteous Way

See Also[]