Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for...

S is for Soo Bahk Do

As previously discussed, when Hwang Kee originally started Moo Duk Kwan he had no formal knowledge of the traditional martial arts system of Korea and subsequently all the techniques he originally based the system on were from China and Okinawa.  In 1957 he discovered the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji- translation: "Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts"; a book which documents the ancient martial arts of Korea.  This book uses the term "Soo Bahk" to describe a hand striking method which was used in Korea around 2200 years ago and includes illustrations which depict some of the techniques.

Further study of this book taught Hwang Kee that "Soo Bahk Ki" (translation: 'hand striking technique') was commonly practiced during the Ko Ku Ryo dynasty 2000 years ago and remained common through the Yi dynasty 600 years ago.

Why, you may wonder, was it lost for so long such that it was not commonly practiced at the time that Hwang Kee began originally studying martial arts?  Well, while we don't know why it was lost after the Yi dynasty, we do know why it was unaccessible during Hwang Kee's childhood and early adulthood: the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945.

The Japanese occupation was a period of time when all elements of Korean cultural expression were prohibited in favor of Japanese culture- martial arts being one of them.  It because of this that he had access to books on Okinawan karate, but nothing on Soo Bahk Ki or Korea's traditional martial arts. of several factors which prevented Hwang Kee from developing the system, as I will discuss in more detail when we reach W.

At any rate, when Hwang Kee discovered the book, and the traditional techniques it documented, he changed the system to reflect these revised influences.  It is described as the "rebirth" of the Moo Duk Kwan system  because it was the first time that this traditional Korean system was gain being commonly practiced.  This influence was so important to Hwang Kee that he ultimately changed the name from Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan (which shows the Chinese influence) to Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan.


  1. Just think what would've happened had that book been lost forever...

  2. This is so interesting! The martial arts have certainly been around for a long time.

  3. Alex- Reinventing the wheel.

    L.G.- That they have.

  4. The Japanese invasion disrupted the cultures along the whole stretch of countries. Rediscovering them would take many years.

  5. That's so awesome though that the translation survived all that time and found it's way into his hands. ^_^ Martial Arts has such a rich (and ancient!) history.


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