History of Tang Soo Do

Tang Soo Do (pronounced Toung Sue Doe) is translated to "Way of the china Hand". It is an empty-handed, traditional Korean martial art of self defense.


The origin of Tang Soo Do cannot be traced to any single person. However, the history of the Moo Duk Kwan (from which the majority of all modern Tang Soo Do stylists trace their lineage) can be traced to a single founder: Hwang Kee. Hwang Kee claimed to have learned Chinese martial arts while in Manchuria. He also was influenced by Japanese Karate, and the Korean arts of Taekkyon and Subak. Hwang Kee also was highly influenced by a 1790 Korean book about martial arts call the Muye Dobo Tongji. 


During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945), many Koreans were exposed to Japanese versions of Chinese martial arts such as Karate. As the Japanese moved deeper into the continent, Karate was adopted and mixed with more traditional Korean martial arts such as Taekkyon, as well as traditional Chinese martial arts studied by Koreans in Manchuria and China.


Around the time of the liberation of Korea in 1945, five martial arts schools were formed by men  who were mostly trained in Japanese Karate. They taught an art they called Kong Soo Do or Tang Soo Do, and their schools were called the Kwans. The Kwans and their founders were the Chung Do Kwan, Jidokwan, Chang Moo Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, and Song Moo Kwan.


Tang Soo Do continues to expand and flourish under numerous federations and organizations that, for various reasons, separated from the Moo Duk Kwan. It can be argued that Tang Soo Do is one of the most widely practiced martial arts in the United States. However, knowing that the term "Tang Soo Do" is more or less unknown by the general public, many Tang Soo Do schools continue to advertise themselves as Karate or Korean Karate schools. 

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