Even though Tang Soo Do History can be traced back to its founder, date and location, the origin of the martial arts in general is vague. Some sources will claim that the martial arts started with Buddhist monks in India and were spread with their travels.
However, as it was necessary for men to defend their countries all over the world, it is more likely that the arts of self defense developed in many parts of the world and knowledge was shared with time.
For example, the Buddhist monk Bodidharma is accredited with starting the Shaolin arts. When Bodidharma traveled to China (circa 540 AD) he found that the monks lacked the physical and mental stamina to perform the basic Buddhist meditation practices.
Bodidharma taught physical exercises to enhance chi flow and build strength. The motions were patterened after the motions of different animals (i.e. deer, tiger, crane, snake).
This was the beginning of Shaolin Kung Fu. Korea has a long history of civilisation. Like all ancient civilisations, it has periodically engaged in military activity. This has led to the building up of a martial tradition extending to now.
During the 4th century A.D., wandering monks from China introduced Buddhism to Korea. Some of these were accomplished martial artists, as indeed they had to be for their own safety. There are reliable records of them teaching lay people martial arts.
The Silla Dynasty (A.D. 668 – 935) was a period when the martial arts expanded rapidly in Korea. The Kingdom of Silla was one of the three Kingdoms in Korea. It occupied the south eastern part of the Korean Peninsula. It was notable for the military prowess of its young warrior class, the Hwa Rang. the five basic priciples of Tang Soo Do derive from the principles of these elite warriors.
At the beginning of the Yi Dynasty (A.D. 1390 – 1907), the National Martial Arts Manual, “Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji”, was published, and the term “Soo Bahk Do” (“way of hand fighting”) became widely used. During the occupation of Korea by Japan (1907 – 1945) the practice of native martial arts was prohibited. This prohibition forced many Korean Soo Bahk Do Masters to emigrate, or to practise secretly.
During the years 1909 to 1945 the Japanese occupied Korea. At this time martial arts were prohibited. After World War II this prohibition was lifted and the peninsula became divided in two; the Republic of Korea (capitalist), commonly called South Korea, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (communist), or North Korea. It was a this time, on November 9, 1945, that Grand Master Hwang Kee, pictured at top right, founded Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan in Seoul, Korea. Other styles that were started at this time were: Ji Do Kwan headed by Yun Kwei Byong, Chang Moo Kwan headed by Lee Nam Sak, Chung Do Kwan headed by Son Dok song and Song Moo Kwan headed by No Byong Jik.
Following the liberation of Korea in 1945, the Moo Duk Kwan (“Institute of Martial Virtue”) and four other Martial Art Schools were formed. The Moo Duk Kwan and Chi Do Kwan later formed the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association in 1960 to develop the study and practice of traditional Korean martial arts. Tang Soo (Soo Bahk) Do has since spread throughout the world. The “International Tang Soo Do Federation Moo Duk Kwan” (ITSDF) was formed in 1989 to unite and develop Tang Soo Do world-wide. The United Kingdom Tang Soo Do Federation currently serves as its administrative and technical headquarters.