To understand Soo Bahk Do, it’s important to understand the foundational history. Soo Bahk Do was founded by Grand Master Hwang Kee (1910-2003). When Hwang Kee was only 7, he witnessed a fight with a Tae Kyun master defend himself against a large group of men. Hwang Kee was so impressed that he followed the man home and eventually asked to learn. Hwang Kee was refused because he was too young. Determined, Hwang Kee woud watch from a distance as the master would teach Tae Kyun. Though he never received formal training in Tae Kyun, some considered him a master in his own right by the age of 22.
Later, Hwang Kee went to Manchuria to work on the railroad. There he was able to train with Yang Kuk Jin, a master of the Chinese martial arts. Here Hwang Kee received his only formal training which included Seh Bop (Postures), Bo Bop (steps) and Ryun Bop (Conditioning). He also trained in Dham Toi Sip E Ro (12 Step Tan Tui) and Tae Kuk Kwon (Tai Chi).
When Hwang Kee returned to Korea, he read books on Okinawan Karate. The exact titles are unknown.
After World War II, Hwang Kee opened a school teaching a new system that he created called Hwa Soo Do. This style was heavily influenced by his training in Manchuria. However, because of the Japanese Occupation of Korea, his art was not very well received. One day, he spoke with the founders of Ji Do Kwan and Chung Do Kwan. Chung Do Kwan was teaching Tang Soo Do, which had roots in Shotokan. Ji Do Kwan was teaching Kong Soo Do, which had roots in Judo. Both of these styles had many more students than the Moo Duk Kwan. After meeting these two founders, Hwang Kee decided he needed to integrate the art of “Tang Soo Do” into the Hwa Soo Do discipline. At the time, Tang Soo Do was the only term for a “Karate-type” discipline that the public would recognize and accept because of their Japanese doctrinization during the past 50 years. From the knowledge he had acquired from studying Japanese books, he began teaching Tang Soo Do while applying the Hwa Soo Do discipline of techniques. This included a unique use of offensive and defensive hip movements in all hand techniques. Kicks also had a unique way of extending the hips on all thrust kicks. These along with other characteristics distinguished the Moo Duk Kwan system from others teaching “Tang Soo Do”.
In 1957, Hwang Kee discovered the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji, the oldest Korean martial arts text known today. Inside, he discovered a fighting art called “Soo Bahk Ki” or Soo Bahk Hee” which means hand striking techniques or dance. He recognized the importance of “Soo Bahk” as a Korean traditional martial art and studied the book in depth. The Moo Duk Kwan began another transformation as Hwang Kee implemented the Soo Bahk system into the Moo Duk Kwan. This implementation has continued until the present day where the Moo Duk Kwan now practices forms taken from, and based upon, the teachings from the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji. In the 1990’s, the Moo Duk Kwan in the United States formally changed its name from the United States Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation to the United States Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation. The change of the name outwardly demonstrates the Moo Duk Kwan’s change of focus from the Tang Soo Do curriculum that had a strong base in the Okinawan Karate forms to the unique Soo Bahk Do forms created by Hwang Kee such as Chil Sung, Yuk Ro, and Hwa Sun. Learn more »