The exact origins of Tang Soo Do, as well as all other martial arts, is
obscure, although there are a number of historical theories. The most
traditional view is that martial arts did not originate in any one
country, but evolved in all parts of the globe as a method of
self-defense that was needed by primitive people.
Development in Early Years
The ancestral art of Korean Tang Soo Do can be traced back to the period
when Korea was divided into three kingdoms:
Koguryo was founded in 37 BC in northern Korea. The Silla Dynasty was
founded in 57 BC in the southeast peninsula. The third kingdom, Paekche
was founded in 18 BC.
Finally, after a long series of wars, the Silla Dynasty united the
three kingdoms in 668 AD. During this period, the primitive martial arts
were very popular as a method of self-defense in warfare. This is
evidence in the many mural paintings, ruins, and remains, which depict
Tang Soo Do in those days.
Among the three kingdoms, the Silla Dynasty was most famous for its
development of martial arts. A corps composed of a group of young
aristocrats who were called "Hwa Rang Dan" was the major force
behind the development of the art. These warriors were instrumental in
unifying the Korean peninsula under the new Silla Dynasty (668 AD - 935
AD). Many of the early leaders of that dynasty were originally members
of the Hwa Rang Dan. Most Korean martial arts trace their spiritual and
technical heritage to this group. In fact, the names of some martial
arts such as Hwa Rang Do or Hwa Soo Do, still reflect this origination.
The united Silla Kingdom was ultimately overthrown by a warlord, Wang
Kun, in 918 AD. The new kingdom, "Koryo", lasted for 475 years
(918 AD - 1392 AD). In 1392, the Yi Dynasty successes the Koryo kingdom.
The Yi Dynasty remained intact for 500 years. During the 1000 year
period of the Koryo Kingdom and the Yi Dynasty, what we today know as
Tang Soo Do was increasingly popular with the military. More importantly
however, the art also became very popular with the general public.
During this period, Tang Soo Do was referred to as Kwon Bop, Tae Kyun,
Soo Bahk, Tang Soo and others.
The first complete martial arts book was written at this time. This
most important book is called "Mooyae Dobo Tangji". It was
written in 1790 and contained illustrations that substantiated the
theory that Tang Soo Do (formally called "Soo Bahk Ki") had
quickly developed into a very sophisticated art of combat techniques.
The occupation of Korea by the Japanese military regime took place from
1909 to 1945. During this period, practicing and teaching of any martial
arts was restricted in Korea.
After World War II in 1945, this restriction was lifted. Several
martial arts training schools were soon erected.
Moon Duk Kwan Hwang Kee
Chi Do Kwan Kwai Byung, Yun
Chung Do Kwan Kuk Sung, Son
Song Moo Kwan Byung Jik, No
Chang Moo Kwan Nam Suk, Lee
Yun Moo Kwan Sang Sup, Chun
These founders started to organize their own organizations
respectively, and Master Hwang Kee organized the Korean Soo Bahk Do
Association in November 9, 1945.
In addition to the Soo Bahk Do Association in Korea, there were
various other types of martial arts call "Kong Soo" or
"Tae Soo". In 1965, all of these various systems united into
one organization, called the "Korean Tae Kwon Do Association"
and the art was called "Tae Kwon Do' uniformly.
As a Korean national sport, Tae Kwon Do initiated a new era.
Instructors were dispatched throughout the world and international
tournaments were held. In those days, Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do were
divided principally, with Tang Soo Do striving to remain as a
traditional martial art, while Tae Kwon Do held its world games and