Grandmaster Hwang Kee is the founder/creator of Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan. He was born in 1914 during the Japanese occupation of Korea, a time when “all dimensions of Korean traditional cultural expression" -including martial arts- "were prohibited”.
Fast forward 15 years and Hwang Kee is working in Manchuria for the railroad company when a friend of his introduces him to a Chinese Master by the name of Kuk Jin Yang. Hwang Kee asks Master Yang to teach him and despite refusing him on not once, not twice, but three separate occasions Hwang Kee persists and is granted his request. He happily studies under Master Yang with the vigor that you would expect of someone so enamored and simultaneously starved of martial arts would until 1937 when he had to return to Seoul.
Thankfully, the building that served as his office in Seoul was also a library and in it he found books on Okinawan forms of martial arts (see O). He studied these obsessively, practicing the moves described as best he could along with what he had learned from Master Yang.
1953 to 1961 marked the most active and successful period in history for Mood Duk Kwan. Hwang Kee published many books of his teaching as well as a monthly Moo Duk Kwan newsletter. The art was widely recognized by the public and began to be taught in military bases of the US army. And in 1961 the team was invited to the Goodwill Martial Arts Championship- the very first international competition featuring martial arts from Korea, China and Japan. It earned Moo Duk Kwan international recognition.
Also, in 1957, Hwang Kee discovered the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji- a book on Soo Bahk published 300 years earlier. “Soo Bahk” was first used about 2200-2700 years ago in the age of Chun Chu in China. However, “Soo Bahk Ki” (Soo Bahk Technique) or “Soo Bahk Hee” (Soo Bahk Dance) seems to have been more actively known and practiced in the Ko Ku Ryo Dynasty (2000 years ago), Ko Ryo Dynasty (1000 years ago), and Yi Dynasty (600 years ago) of Korea. Hwang Kee went through the book at a microscopic level and incorporated its teachings into Moo Duk Kwan, attempting to bridge the gap of time and make Moo Duk Kwan into the traditional Korean Martial Art.
Due to wars, political shifts in favor and other factors (most notably the split of Tae Kwon Do from Tang Soo Do in 1964) Tang Soo Do was replaced as the most popular Korean martial art and that is, in a nutshell, why many of you probably haven't heard of it before.