History of Tang Soo Do
Following is a brief history and is by no means meant to be complete.
The exact origin of Tang Soo Do, as well as of any of the martial arts in general is obscure though there are a number of historical theories. However, the most credible and traditional view is that martial arts originated not in any one country, but in almost all parts of the globe, as they were needed by the people.
Development in Early Ages
The ancestral art of Korean Tang Soo Do can be traced back approximately 2,000 years. At that time, Korea was divided into three kingdoms. Kugoryo was founded in 37 BC in northern Korea. The Silla Dynasty was founded in 57BC in the southeast peninsula, and Paekche, in the southwest, was founded in 18 BC.
After a long series of wars, the Silla Dynasty united the three kingdoms in 668 AD. During this period of time, the martial arts were very popular in warfare. This is evidenced by mural paintings, ruins and remains, which depicted Tang Soo Do in those days.
Among the three kingdoms, the Silla Dynasty was most famous for its development of martial arts. A corps formed by young aristocrats who were called the “Hwa Rang Dan” was the major group who developed those arts. These warriors were instrumental in unifying the peninsula as the new Silla Dynasty (668 AD-935 AD) and Furnished many of the early leaders of that dynasty. Most Korean Martial arts trace their spiritual and technical heritage to this group. The names of some groups and arts reflect this, such as Hwa Rang Do or Hwa Soo Do.
The unified Silla Kingdom was overthrown by a warlord, Wang Kun, in 918 AD and a new kingdom, called “Koryo” lasted for 475 years. In 1392 AD the New Kingdom, Yi Dynasty, succeeded and lasted about 500 years. Approximately a thousand year period elapsed between the two dynasties. Tang Soo Do became very popular among the military society. However, most importantly, this art also became very popular with the general public. In those days, it was called Kwon Bop, Tae Kyun, Soo Bahk, Tang Soo among others.
The very first complete martial arts book was written at this time. This important book is called “Mooyae Dobo Tongji.” It was written in 1790 AD and contained illustrations that substantiate the theory that “Soo Bahk Ki,” the formal name of Tang Soo Do, had quickly developed into a sophisticated art of combat techniques.
The subsequent occupation of Korea by the Japanese military regime took place from 1909 to 1945. During this period, practicing and teaching of martial arts was restricted. After World War II these restrictions were lifted. Several martial arts training schools were established at that time. The founders of these schools began to organize their own organizations. In 1965 all of these organizations were united into one organization called the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association. The various arts were adopted into a system called “Tae Kwon Do.”
As a Korean national sport, Tae Kwon Do initiated a new era; instructors were dispatched throughout the world and international tournaments were held. In those days, Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do were divided principally, with Tang Soo Do striving to remain as a traditional martial art while Tae Kwon Do held its world games and sports.
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