Tangsoodo (당수도) is the way of the open hand. Originally, it was written with Chinese characters as 唐手道 (Tang Shou Dao) and pronounced in Korean as Tangsoodo. Tang originally referred to the Tang dynasty of China, Shou meaning hand, and Dao meaning way. This literally means the “Tang Dynasty (Chinese)-Hand-Way” in Chinese. The first character was later changed from meaning Chinese to meaning Empty, and then was pronounced Kong instead, yet Tang has stuck as the name. Since Japanese uses Chinese characters as well, it can be translated as Karate-do in Japanese, or the way of Karate.


     Originally, Korean was written with all Chinese characters, but pronounced in Korean, with Korean syntax and grammar. This would be similar to reading Korean as “The way of the Chinese hand” rather than 당수도. The only difference is that in Chinese, the characters represent a distorted original picture corresponding to the meaning. In 1443, King Sejong created the phonetic Korean alphabet known as Hangeul. There was no longer a need for Chinese characters in writing. The Korean alphabet, since it is phonetic, can be used to write virtually any sound. This is very similar to the Cyrillic alphabet used in Russian. In fact, each of the 28~ (depending on how you count) letters in the Korean alphabet is drawn as the shape the mouth and tongue make to produce that sound. Hangeul is currently the easiest and most straightforward alphabet to learn, and the fastest to type.


     During the Japanese occupation of Korea in the years 1910 to 1945, Koreans were prohibited from learning martial arts, or even speaking their own language. They were forced to learn and speak Japanese. Obviously, Korean culture and language was preserved. Martial arts and Korean were practiced and spoke in secret. In this time, a man named Hwang Kee has mastered the native Korean martial art of Soo Bahk Do, as well as Taekkyeon. The Japanese secret police discovered Hwang Kee, and he was forced to flee. After a bad experience in Manchuria as a railroad worker, he decided to head to China. In the middle of the night, Hwang Kee climbed over the Great Wall of China. This extraordinary feet was quoted in an interview:


"I climbed the wall at night, I was in excellent physical condition at the time and there were parts of the Great Wall that were lower than others. I ran up the side of the wall two or three steps and then grabbed at the top. Once on top, I distracted the soldiers guarding the other side by throwing rocks away from where I climbed down." -Hwang Kee


Great Grandmaster Hwang Kee

Great Grandmaster Hwang Kee

Hwang Kee spent the next 20 years in China, and studied northern style Gong-fu known as Yang-gong-fu.


     Although martial arts were banned during the occupation, Japanese martial arts practitioners still shared knowledge, trained with, and influenced Korean martial arts. When World War II ended, Hwang Kee returned to the Korean peninsula. At this time, five main martial arts schools (called Kwans, which literally means academy) sprang up in Korea by men who had exposure to Karate and Gong-fu. Hwang Kee had a school named 무덕관 (Moo Duk Kwan). In 1960 this was changed to Soo Bahk do.


In 1965 the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association was formed. It had a heavy political influence and attempted to merge the Kwans, and with the Soo Bahk Do Association. Grandmaster Hwang Kee was the only Kwan founder not to fall into the political merging trap. He knew it would absorb his traditions and style. The merger weakened Moo Duk Kwan.


     The name of the merged martial art became Taekwondo, and became the official military combat of Korea. Despite all the unification, Hwang Kee and another practitioner of Moo Duk Kwan developed a form of Tangsoodo known as Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, which is a more fluid style with prominent Chinese influence.


     Tang Soo Do of today is represented by the Moo Duk Kwan that Hwang Kee founded.


Korean Martial Art Basic Terminology


Tang Soo Do - The Way of the Chinese Hand


Kukgi - Korean Flag

Do Jang - Training Hall (studio)

Suhn Saeng Nim - Instructor/Teacher

Do Bohk - Training Uniform

Dee - Belt

Gup - Color Belt

Dan - Degree/Level (The st in 1st)

Annyeong-Haseyo - Hello

KamsaHamnida - Thank You

Chon Maneyo - Your Welcome

Jung Uei - Justice

Uei Rhee - Best Friendship


Eight Key Concepts in Tang Soo Do

Yong Gi - Courage

Chung Shin Tong Il - Concentration

In Neh - Endurance

Chung Jik - Honesty

Kyum Son - Humility

Him Cho Chung - Control of power

Shin Chook - Tension and Relaxation

Wan Gup - Speed control


Types of Training

Hyung - Form or pattern

il Soo Sik Dae Ryun - One-step Sparring

Ja Yu Dae Ryun - Free Sparring

Ho Sin Sool - Self Defense

Kyuck Pa - Breaking


Training Commands

Cha Ryut - Attention

Kyung Nae - Bow

Jhoon Bee - Ready

Si Jak - Begin

Ku Man - Stop

Ba Ro - Return

Shio - Relax(rest)

Chak Suk - Sit

Shi SunLine of Site(focus)

Chung ShimBalance


Basic Techniques

Mahk Kee - Block

Kong Kyuk - Attack

Soo GiHand - Techniques

Soo Do - Knife Hand

Yuk Soo - Ridge Hand

Kwan Soo Do - Spear Hand

Jang Swon - Heel of Palm

Jok Gi - Foot Techniques

Cha Gi - Kick

Ahp - Front

Yup - Side

Dwi - Back

O Rin Jok - Right

Wen Jok - Left

Ha Dan - Low Part

Choong Dan - Middle Part

Sang Dan - High Part



Jhoon Bee Jaseh - Ready Stance

Chun Gul Jaseh - Front Stance

Hu Gul Jaseh - Back Stance

Kee Ma Jaseh - Horse Stance


Korean Numbers

Ku Ryung - Count

Ha Na - One

Dool - Two

Set - Three

Net - Four

Da Sot - Five

Yuh So - tSix

Il Gop - Seven

Yo Dull - Eight

Ah Hope - Nine

Yohl - Ten

Sumul - Twenty

Sohroon - Thirty

Mahun - Forty

Shwin - Fifty

Yesun - Sixty

Ilhun - Seventy

Yudun - Eighty

Ahun - Ninety

Baek - One Hundred