WHAT IS TANG SOO DO?

Tang Soo Do (Moo Duk Kwan) is a Korean method of empty-hand self-defense developed in the year 1944 by its founder, Supreme Grandmaster Hwang Kee (born: November 9, 1914 – July 14, 2002 died). Hwang Kee was one of the most important and influential figures in the development of Korean martial arts best known as founder of the Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan style.


Translated from the Korean language into English, Tang Soo Do means, “The way of the Chinese hand.” Grand-master Hwang Kee extracted techniques, principles and concepts from Northern and Southern Chinese Kung Fu as well as hard style of Japanese Shotokan Karate. For this reason, Tang Soo Do is  a distinct form of Korean Karate.

OUR TANG SOO DO LINEAGE

In 1945, Hwang Kee established his first school and began teaching. Initially he named his school Hwa Soo Do (“Flowering Hand Way”) Moo Duk Kwan.
One of his very first students was Jung Kil Kim ‘Tiger Kim’, who remained loyal to Hwang Kee earning Black Belt certificate#123. Tiger Kim studied Moo Duk Kwon right alongside of fellow students Grandmaster Chong Soo Hong (Vice-President World Taekwondo Federation and Kuk-Ki-Won) and Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee (President of The United States Taekwondo Union)
It’s important to understand that the very small group of original students under Hwang Kee were awarded a unique certificate number referred in Moo Duk Kwan terminology as a ‘Dan Bon‘ number.
This Dan Bon number is not just an administration number. It signifies within the Moo Duk Kwan community a person’s level of seniority and position of leadership in the Moo Duk Kwan rank system.
At any National or International Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan event, without discussion, without dispute or conflict, the Dan Bon system allows practitioners who may have never even met to harmoniously assume their rightful place in line among their peers.
Grand-master Tiger Kim, having earned Dan Bon certificate #123 is regarded as first generation pioneer of Tang Soo Do and Taekwondo to the world directly under the creator of Moo Duk Kwan.

In 1976, Grandmaster Kim came to the United States and opened his first school in Denver, Colorado; just one year after receiving 8th Degree Black Belt Grandmaster certification awarded the Kukkiwon World Headquarters in Korea. Today, Jung Kil Kim holds the prestigious rank of 9th dan in Tang Soo Do, 9th dan in Taekwondo and 9th dan in Hapkido.

In 1991, Grandmaster Kim’s dream continued to grow as his school expanded to a 12,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility equipped with a professional size Olympic size boxing ring, four different training class rooms, plenty of heavy bags, striking shields, Judo/Jujitsu tatami (mats), weights, cardio gear, separate men and women’s showers, a sauna, and many other amenities.
That same year Tiger Kim was awarded International Grandmaster honors and 9th Degree Black Belt as certified by the Korea Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo Association.  9th degree black belt is the highest rank attainable in a traditional martial art system other than 10th which is typically reserved only for the founder of a system.
GM Tiger Kim served as an official Delegate for the Korean Taekwondo Association to the United States (1993 -2004). He is Vice President of the Pan American Taekwondo Moo Duk Kwan Association and State President of Colorado A.A.U. Olympic Taekwondo Association. He served as President of the Korean Taekwondo Association in late as 2006.

Kevin James is a 4th dan black belt in Tang Soo Do/4th dan Taekwondo and served the Head Judo Coach at Tiger Kim’s Academy of Denver.  Our students are plugged into a rich lineage connecting them to the founder of Tang Soo Do and first generation pioneers of Korean martial arts.

KEVIN D. JAMES – 4th Degree Black Belt in Tang Soo Do/Taekwondo and Head Judo (Yudo) Instructor at Tiger Kim’s Academy of Martial Arts in Denver, Colorado


CHUNG DO KWAN is one of the first of nine schools, clans or kwans to teach Tang Soo Do. It was established at the end of the Japanese Occupation of Korea. The Chung Do Kwan (靑濤館; “Blue Wave School”) name was first used by Won Kuk Lee.
This style of Tang Soo Do is best known for its overall focus on non-sport practical karate.


Tae Kwon Do was formed by a South Korean government forced merger of all major martial art kwans/styles. Each of the various systems were to be controlled, sanctioned and accredited by the Korean government. This forced action began in 1955, intensified by 1961, or 1965 depending on master-teacher best qualified to share actual events at that time.
The major Tang Soo Do schools forced to merge into Taekwondo include the following;
Moo Duk Kwan (founded by Hwang Kee)
• Yeon Moo Kwan (founded by Sang Sup Chun and Byong In Yoon which later became known as, Ji Do Kwan)
• Chang Moo Kwan (founded by Byung In Yoon and Nam Suk Lee)
• Song Moo Kwan (founded by Byung Chik Ro)
• Ji Do Kwan (originally Yeon Moo Kwan) and later redirected by Chung Woo Lee
Chung Do Kwan (founded by Won Kuk Lee).
Each school practiced a very similar, yet unique Korean blend of Chinese Kung Fu, Japanese Karate, and native Korean (Soo Bakh) arts. However, the Moo Duk Kwan was the only school where the founding grand-master did not study under a Japanese instructor.

Tang Soo Do’s most famous practitioner is Chuck Norris who preferred it during his fighting career. Norris helped to pioneer this art and in the process became one of the world’s most famous martial artists.
The World Tang Soo Do Association and the International Tang Soo Do Federation, for instance, teach forms of Tang Soo Do that existed before the Korean government mandated merger of Tang Soo Do clans into sport Taekwondo.
These versions of Tang Soo Do are heavily influenced by Korean culture and are very closely related to Okinawan Karate. The Moo Duk Kwan, being loyal to Hwang Kee, pulled out of the unification movement and remained independent, continuing to use the name ‘Tang Soo Do’.