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White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:47 am    Post subject: Tang Soo Do Reply with quote

I am pretty new to the martial arts scene (hence my first post on this forum) but have always been intrigued. Now at age 34 i decide better not wait too long!

I found a gym that teaches Gracie Combatives, which is something I was really interested in and the number one art I was looking for. However, this particular dojo also offers Tang Soo Do from an accomplished Master.

Is this style of Karate a repetable one? I had never heard of it prior to starting my training at this Dojo. I really want to learn Karate as well, but don't want to have to go to 2 different Dojo's to accomplish training in both arts.

I appreciate any advice!
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Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 03 Nov 2011
Posts: 164
Location: Maine, USA
Styles: Shotokan

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tang Soo Do (aka Moo Duk Kwan and Soo Bahk Do) is the Korean version of Japanese karate. It's a very popular style. It's roots are in the Shotokan and, to a lesser extent, the Shito-ryu traditions. Although some of the terminology you learn may be Korean instead of Japanese, the techniques are very similar. Your forms may be nearly identical to Japanese kata or may differ depending on which branch of Tang Soo Do your club is associated with. Some clubs use the older (Japanese-style) forms, while other groups have some newer kata created over the past fifty years. High level Tang Soo Do people may have some forms that include Chang Chuan and Tai Chi Chuan influences from Chinese martial arts.

If you're worried you're not learning real karate I wouldn't sweat it, Tang Soo Do is Korean karate.
"Honour, not honours." ~ Sir Richard Francis Burton
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Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 27 Aug 2012
Posts: 1875
Location: Wales
Styles: Okinawan Karate, Aikido, Ninpo.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tang Soo Do is Korean Shotokan, it's perfectly valid. It was Chuck Norris' original style and also a great influence on Cynthia Rothrock.
Look to the far mountain and see all.
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Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 377
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Styles: Tang Soo Do

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been taking Tang Soo Do for a little over a year now. TSD and related schools do trims on your gi. Some forms differ depending on the school
Tang Soo Do - Red Belt (2nd GUP)
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Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 21 Apr 2013
Posts: 60
Location: Carlinville, IL.
Styles: Tang Soo Do

PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been doings TSD for almost 18 years now. It is a great style to learn.

TSD is a Korean style founded by Grandmaster Hwang Kee after returning to Korea from China during the Japanese invasion during WWII.

Just like Harkon72 said, TSD is the style Chuck Norris learned when he was stationed in Korea. He learned under Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin, creator of some of the forms we do called the World Forms.
Also like FangPwnsAll7 said, traditional TSD have color trim on the uniforms. Depending on what color rank you are is the color trim.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Hope this helped.
Perfect Practice makes Perfect.
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Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 50

Styles: 100% powered by Tang Soo Do for nearly 30 years.

PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For what it's worth, I cobbled this together for my student manual from a number of sources over a few days of intensive research:


Long ago, Korea was divided into the Three Kingdoms: Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje. Eventually, they all came to be unified under Silla, which was the most renowned of the Three for its martial skill. The King of Silla created a military force known as the Hwarang (the “Flower Knights”) - young men sent into the mountains to study history, ethics, Buddhist philosophy, and military tactics along with their combat skills. These elite warrior-aristocrats were meant to serve as models of the Korean culture and as chivalrous, educated soldiers. The Hwarang and their Rangdo (disciples) were known collectively as the Hwarangdo – the Flowering Knights and their Disciple Warriors. They were roughly the equivalent of the Japanese Shogun and their samurai.

The Hwarangdo practiced the predominant martial art of the time, Subak (which utilized strikes, kicks, jointlocks, and throws), as well as mastering the spear, bow, and sword. The unified Silla Kingdom was eventually overthrown, and during the subsequent Yi Dynasty (circa AD 1400), Confucianist ideology stressed the literary arts over the martial. As a result, Subak was relegated to competitions rather than actual combat training, and was assimilated into other styles of the time such as Soo Bahk and Tae Kyun. Martial arts as a whole became more popular with the public as an art or sport and were known by various names such as Kwan Bop, Tang Soo, and others. The legacy of the ancient Hwarangdo is carried on by the martial art Hwa Rang Do - “The Way of the Flowering Knights” – founded in the 1960s by a Korean master who claims to have learned the lost Hwarang ways as they were passed secretly from monk to monk over 58 generations.

Japan took military control of Korea in 1904 and occupied the country through economic and military dominance until 1945. During this time, the Japanese attempted to eradicate Korean culture and replace it with their own, and so a restriction was placed on all practice and teaching of Korean martial arts. Instead, only Japanese arts, such as Judo and Shotokan karate were allowed. Those who wished to maintain their traditional Korean arts were forced to practice in secret, and in the end, many of them were heavily influenced by linearity of the Japanese styles being taught at the time. After World War II ended in 1945, the restriction on teaching Korean arts was lifted, and five schools (or “Kwans”) were quickly founded:

Song Moo Kwan (“The Ever Youthful School”);
Chang Moo Kwan (“The School of Martial Learning”);
Yun Moo Kwan (“Wisdom Way School”);
Chung Do Kwan (“The Blue Waves School”); the second largest martial arts institute in Korea, and
Moo Duk Kwan (“The School of Martial Virtue”) - founded by martial arts prodigy Hwang Kee, and eventually to become the largest and most popular Kwan in Korea.

As a boy, Hwang Kee witnessed a man defend himself successfully against several attackers using a martial art called Tae Kyun and begged him for training. The Master refused him. Undaunted, Kee followed him home and found a hill from which he could watch the Master train in his home. In this way, Kee taught himself Tae Kyun, studying the Master covertly each day from his hilltop perch and practicing the movements he observed. Kee later traveled to Manchuria, China, as a high school student, where he studied the Tang method of Kung Fu. During the Japanese occupation, he studied Shotokan and Okinawa-te, as well. When he finally formed his first school in 1945, the Moo Duk Kwan, the style he taught was an amalgam of traditional Korean art, linear Japanese style, and the Chinese Kung Fu he had learned in Manchuria. He called this style Hwa Soo Do (“The Way of the Flowering Hand”). He afterwards changed this name to Tang Soo Do (“The Way of the Chinese Hand”) to acknowledge the influence of the Tang Dynasty’s Kung Fu on his own style.

After reading the Muye Dobo Tongji - a historic, illustrated manual of traditional Korean martial arts commissioned by a King in the late 1700s – Hwang Kee was inspired by references to the ancient and original martial system of Subak and spent arduous hours incorporating these techniques into his art. By the mid 1950s, several new Kwans had emerged. The Korean President ordered that all the Kwans unify under one system and that this art be taught to the Korean military. The name “Tae Kwon Do” (“The Way of Foot and Fist”) was submitted and accepted by the Government, and thus the nine Kwans of the time were collectively the founders of modern Tae Kwon Do. Hwang Kee did not agree with this decision to consolidate, however, and maintained autonomy of his Tang Soo Do school. Some of his high-ranking students at the Moo Duk Kwan, however, transitioned into teaching Tae Kwon Do, and since all other Kwans were also teaching Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do became synonymous with Hwang Kee’s original Moo Duk Kwan institute. A rivalry grew between Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do; factions allegedly supported by the government attempted to block the Moo Duk Kwan from operating successfully. In the 1970s, this dispute went before the Korean courts, who ruled in favor of Hwang Kee and the Moo Duk Kwan.

In 1995, at the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of his school, Hwang Kee officially changed the name of his style to Soo Bahk Do (“The Hand Striking Way”) after adding a number of techniques to reflect the ancient style of Subak. By this time, some 75% of all martial artists in Korea were already practicing some version of Tang Soo Do. Only actual students of Hwang Kee’s Moo Duk Kwan can truly call themselves practitioners of Soo Bahk Do, and so many studios that practice a very similar version of this art continue to call themselves students of Tang Soo Do. As a result, Hwang Kee’s Moo Duk Kwan school of Martial Virtue has been responsible in one way or another for the spread of Tang Soo Do, Soo Bahk Do, and Tae Kwon Do to throughout the world.

In the ancient martial arts, there were only two belts: white and black. One was a white belt for as many years as it took for the belt to become covered in enough sweat, blood, and dirt to make it dark. Hwang Kee’s original Tang Soo Do envisioned four belts: white belt (representing Winter and an empty martial landscape), green belt (representing Spring and a fresh, new beginning), red belt (representing Summer and the ripening of skill), and midnight blue. While many other styles include a black belt, Hwang Kee disliked that black was a color “to which nothing more could be added,” preferring the idea that one could always improve and learn more. When martial arts were introduced to America, a number of new belt colors were added as encouragement to students who grew frustrated by years of practice with no tangible mark of improvement.

Chuck Norris, part of the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, took up Judo at a South Korean Air Base in 1957, but after injuring his shoulder in a fall, began studying Tang Soo Do instead. After long and intense hours of daily training for over a year, Mr. Norris tested for his midnight blue belt under Master Hwang Kee, but did not pass. He succeeded three months later. Upon returning to the States, others at his base showed an interest in his training, so he began a Tang Soo Do class there. After his discharge in 1962, he opened his first studio in Torrance, California. He was largely responsible for spreading Tang Soo Do in the United States, especially as his celebrity grew. Because he left Korea before Hwang Kee changed his Moo Duk Kwan to Soo Bahk Do, American Tang Soo Do as popularized by Mr. Norris remains true to Master Kee’s original style, without the additions of Subak’s ancient teachings. American Tang Soo Do generally includes the following belt rankings: white, purple, orange, blue, green, red, and black.

In 1990, Chuck Norris founded Chun Kuk Do (“The Universal Way”), a Korean-based American hybrid martial arts style that combines aspects of many martial arts including Judo, Kempo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


I've been training in TSD for nearly 30 years and I love it: it's pretty even-handed in it's attack distribution (50% hands, 50% feet) and incorporates some good sweeps and throws as well. It's pretty weak on the ground-fighting front though, which is why Norris included this in his own style Chun Kuk Do. It's a lot less well-known than it's sister style, Tae Kwon Do, which makes it appealing to me (I like the obscure) but still fairly well-practiced here in the states. I sometimes wish it were prettier and more flashy like wing chun or capoeira, but that's just because I love a good show. TSD gets it's job done and has a number of beautiful movements and forms itself.

Hope this helped to flesh out an already well-answered post.
If you practice weak, you become weak. If you practice strong, you become strong.
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White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 12 Oct 2013
Posts: 19

Styles: Wado Ryu, Tangsudo

PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, TSD is a good karate to learn. It is basically South Korea's Shotokan, and a few types of Japanese Karate, such as Wado-Ryu, have cognates to Tangsudo Hyungs.
Good luck, and I hope you get far there!
Wado Ryu-Sandan-Black Belt 3rd Dan
Formerly Purple Belt at Tangsudo
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Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 21 Jun 2013
Posts: 198

Styles: BJJ, MMA, Gongkwon Yusul

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's difficult to judge the quality of instruction based solely on the style.
Whatever the style there are some red flags to watch out for, and that applies to both the Gracie and TSD
Instruction. e.g. a lot of posturing from the instructor or their students. A disinclination to spar is usually also a bad sign. There's likely further discussion on what to avoid in other threads, as well as elsewhere on the internet.

Attend some classes, and if there aren't a lot of red flags and you enjoy it, go ahead and do it. After you take a class, please do let us know how it went.

oh, and welcome to KF!
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