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Tang Soo Do (Hangul: 당수도) is a Korean martial art developed by Hwang Kee in the 1940s and onward. Born in 1914, at the outset of the Japanese occupation of Korea, Hwang reportedly studied subak and taekkyon as a youth. Later, still during the occupation, Hwang worked for the Manchurian Railroad while living in China. It is reported that during this time period he studied Chinese martial arts. Some sources questions these claims, and unfortunately any records or accounts that could validate these claims no longer exist.

What is certain is that upon returning to Korea after the end of the Japanese occupation, Hwang opened is own martial arts school (kwan), the Moo Duk Kwan. Presumably, the style of martial art taught there incorporated a combination of subak, taekkyon, and Chinese martial arts, though it should be noted that Tang Soo Do borrows very heavily from Shotokan Karate as well. Because of this origin, Tang Soo Do can be characterized as a type of "traditional" taekwondo.

The term "Tang Soo Do" (or "Dang Soo Do") is the Korean pronunciation of the characters 唐手道, "The Way of the Chinese Hand," which was in widespread use in Okinawa and Japan in the early 1900s. It is believed that the name Tang Soo Do was first used by Won Kuk Lee of Chung Do Kwan (another one of the original kwans) to describe this uniquely Korean martial art.

Variations and Offshoots[]

  • Most modern offshoots of Tang Soo Do trace their lineage back to Hwang Kee, and so some modern forms of Tang Soo Do are called Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo.
  • Actor Chuck Norris further popularized Tang Soo Do / Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo in the Western world, and from it evolved the hybrid martial art Chun Kuk Do.
  • After reading the Muye Dobo Tongji, Hwang interpretted elements of that material and added it to Tang Soo Do, to create a new martial art called Soo Bahk Do.
  • When Jhoon Rhee first began teaching martial arts in the United States, he too was teaching a version of Tang Soo Do, though later he adopted elements of ITF-style taekwondo. (source?)

Hyeong (Forms)[]

Tang Soo Do uses many of the forms of Traditional Taekwondo. Many of the forms often used in Traditional Taekwondo are included in the following table. In developing his Moo Duk Kwan curriculum, Hwang Kee assigned symbols, listed below, to many of the forms.

Family / Origin Forms
Basic beginner forms developed by Hwang Kee in 1947.

Kicho Hyeong Il Bu
Kicho Hyeong Ee Bu
Kicho Hyeong Sam Bu

Later variants of the beginner forms, developed by the World Tang Soo Do Association; these emphasize earlier training in kicking.

Sae Kye Hyeong Il Bu
Sae Kye Hyeong Ee Bu
Sae Kye Hyeong Sam Bu

Pyung Ahn forms, also called Pinan and Heian forms. From Shotokan Karate, developed approx. 1870 as beginner forms. Symbol: The Tortoise

Pyung Ahn Cho-Dan
Pyung Ahn Ee-Dan
Pyung Ahn Sam-Dan
Pyung Ahn Sa-Dan
Pyung Ahn Oh-Dan

Naihanchi forms, from Shotokan Karate. Also called Chul-Gi, Keema, and Tekki. Symbol: The Horse

Naihanchi Cho-Dan
Naihanchi Ee-Dan
Naihanchi Sam-Dan

Bassai forms, Escaping the Fortress, also called Pal-Sek. Adapted into Shotokan Karate but originally from Kung Fu. Symbol: The Cobra

Bassai Sho
Bassai Dai (or simply Bassai)

Adapted from Shotokan Karate. Symbol: The Crane

Jin Do
Rohai (also called Lohai or Meikyo)

From the karate form Kūsankū. Symbol: The Eagle Kong-Sang-Koon
From the karate form Enpi. Symbol: The Bird Wang Shu (also called Empi)
From the karate form Seisan. Symbol: The Preying Mantis Sei-Shan
Ji-On forms, adapted from Shotokan Karate.

Ji-On, Symbol: The Ram
Jit-te (also called Ship Soo), Symbol: The Bear

From the karate form Gojūshiho. Symbol: The Tiger

O Sip Sa Bo (also called Gojūshiho)
E Sip Sa Bo (also called Nijūshiho)

Adapted by Hwang Kee from Kung Fu and T'ai Chi.

So Rim Jang Kwon
Hwa Sun
Tae Kuk Kwan

Chil Sung, the Seven Stars developed by Hwang Kee in approx. 1952

Chil Sung Il Ro
Chil Sung Ee Ro
Chil Sung Sam Ro
Chil Sung Sa Ro
Chil Sung Oh Ro
Chil Sung Yook Ro
Chil Sung Chil Ro

Yook Ro, the Six-Fold Path developed by Hwang Kee in approx. 1958, inspired by the Muye Dobo Tongji.

Yook Ro Cho Dan - Du Mun
Yook Ro Ee Dan - Joong Jol
Yook Ro Sam Dan - Po Wol
Yook Ro Sam Dan - Yang Pyun
Yook Ro Oh Dan - Sal Chu
Yook Ro Yook Dan - Choong Ro

See Taekwondo Forms for additional information.

See Also[]


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