Tang Soo Do

Meaning of Tang Soo Do

Literally translated, the word “Tang” means T’ang Dynasty of China, which reflects the shared cultural background between China and Korea(617 – 907 AD). “Soo” means hand, but it implies fist, punch, strike, or defense, etc. “Do” means way of life or art. Thus “Tang Soo Do” means the Korean classical martial art which legendarily was influenced by the T’ang method of martial art. The final translation can be put together as the rather poetical – WAY OF THE CHINA HAND.

History of Tang Soo Do

It could easily be said that martial arts originate from the dawn of human existence, when one’s very survival depended the ability to defend oneself.

In primitive times, all cultures used traditional unarmed combat skills when fighting tribal wars and self-defense against animal attacks. These methods of self- defense eventually developed into unique hand and foot skills.

However, the origins of Tang Soo Do as We know it can be traced to the period of three Kingdoms in Korea. The Silla Dyansty from 57 BC to 935 AD, the Paekche Dynasty from 18 BC to 660 AD, and the Koguryo from 37 BC to 668 AD. Many relics of Tang Soo Do and Soo Bahk Do from this era have survived to this present day. One of the best known examples is the Koguryo wall painting depicting martial arts, which is said to be over 1500 years old. It was found in Jip Han Yern, on the lower part of the Ap Lok River which forms part of the border between Korea and China. Koguryo murals of the royal tomb reveal the lifestyle of the time. One of the murals excavated during the period 1935-1940 depicts a scene in which two warriors are engaged in hand to hand combat training in Tang Soo Do.

Many Silla dynasty Buddhist sculptures, depicting monks practicing martial arts also survived in Korea. The guardians carved sculptures at the entrance of the Sokkuram Grotto which display postures similar to those found in Tang Soo Do.

Among the three kingdoms, the Silla Dynasty was the most famous for it’s development of Martial Arts. A corps formed by young aristocrats who were called the “Hwa Rang Dan” was the major group who developed those arts. These warriors were instrumental in unifying the peninsula as the new Silla Dynasty (668 AD – 935 AD), and furnished many of the early leaders of that dynasty. Most Korean martial arts trace their spiritual and technical heritage to this group. The names of some of the groups and arts reflect this, such as Hwa Rang Do and Hwa Soo Do. Our Five Codes of Tang Soo Do, originated by Won Kwang, a monk, are part of the spiritual heritage.

An entry in the 18th volume of the History of Koryo, written about 800 years ago, mentions We Moon Lee who was appointed to the post of Army commander by King E Jong, the 16th King of the Koryo Dynasty (918 AD – 1392 AD), for his expertise in Tang Soo Do. The Koryo army used Tang Soo Do as a combat technique as well as a form of fitness training.

The “Mooyae Dobo Tongji”, one of the most influencial books on martial arts in Korea, was written 500 years ago during the Yi Dynasty and describes various martial arts techniques. These books helped to increase the popularity of Tang Soo Do (Soo Bahk Do) among the general public. Even the Army began to use Tang Soo Do competitions as a way of recruiting new soldiers.

Modern History

The subsequent occupation of Korea by the Japanese military regime took place from 1909 to 1945. During this period, practicing and teaching of martial arts was restricted. After World War II, 1945, this restriction was lifted. During this time several martial arts schools sprang up. Some of those schools were Moo Duk Kwan, Chi Do Kwan, Chung Do Kwan, Sang Moo Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, and Yun Moo Kwan. On November 9, 1945 Master Hwang Kee formed the “Korean Soo Bahk Do Association”. Most modern Tang Soo Do schools are modeled after Master Hwang Kee’s school.

Besides the Soo Bahk Do Association, there were various other types of martial arts called “Kong Soo” or “Tae Soo” existing at this time in Korea. In 1965, all these various systems were 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 it’s games and sports.

C.T.S.D.A. History

The Christian Tang Soo Do Association (CTSDA), was originally named the Christian Martial Arts Association and began in 1991. The CTSDA (formally CMAA and ICMA) was formed in order that Christian students may have a place to train that did not entertain any Eastern Mysticism, New Age philosophies, bowing to Idles or meditating to pictures or anything else that goes against our faith according to God. Since it’s inception, CTSDA schools begin and end each class in prayer freely. This organization began with one school (Tri-Star Karate) and after a few years opened up it’s membership to include other schools. Over the years many schools joined the ICMA. Some schools have even moved on to start their own Ministries in order to serve God in accordance with their own calling. The function of the CTSDA is to offer Certification to Gup students, Dan students, Instructors, and Studios. In addition, this organization offers Tournaments and Seminars for schools and students from qualified Master Instructors to help further the Martial Arts education of any school.

One of the main characteristics of this organization is the ministry and evangelism that springs forth from our schools through demonstrations, performances and mission tours. We feel that God has called us to use our Martial Arts for a higher purpose, and that purpose is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ using the gifts and talents He has given us.

In 2002 the “Christian Martial Arts Association” (CMAA) changed it’s name to the “International Christian Martial Arts “ Association (ICMA) because of the ministry and missions not only in the United States, but also in other countries such as Honduras, Venezuela, Mexico, Russia, and Canada. Then in 2012, the Name was changed to the Christian Tang Soo Do Association (CTSDA) where we now focus our training in our original Tang Soo Do roots while continuing the original ministries as well.