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Tang Soo Do is a traditional Korean martial art - its roots go back more than 2000 years. The goal of Tang Soo Do training is not only to develop excellent physical techniques, but more importantly, to develop and perfect one’s character.

The literal meanings of the Tang Soo Do characters are:

  • Tang – this refers to the T'ang Dynasty of China and reflects the shared cultural background between China and Korea.
  • Soo - means hand, but implies fist, punch, strike or defense.
  • Do - refers to a way of life or Art.

The very first evidence of this ancient form of Korean martial art appeared during the Three Kingdom era (57 BC-935 AD). Since then, 2,000 years have passed. During some eras it flourished and other times it diminished, according to the political, economic or cultural environment.

After the Korean independence movement from Japan in 1945, Korean martial arts flourished throughout the entire Korean Peninsula. Many organizations were founded at that time, with various names such as Soo Bahk Do, Tang Soo Do, Tae Soo Do and so on. It was from one of these organizations, the Moo Duk Kwan (Martial Virtue Institute) that the future founder of the World Tang Soo Do Association would come.

On October 3, 1968, Jae Chul Shin arrived at the Philadelphia Airport sponsored by several of his Black Belt students who trained in Korea at Osan Air Force Base, and had returned to the United States and were running studios there. After his arrival, Master Shin began to organize the Tang Soo Do Black Belts and formed the U.S. Tang Soo Do Federation in 1969.

Over the next decade, there was a strong expansion of Tang Soo Do. At the urging of many high-ranking Masters and Black Belts loyal to Master Shin, he called for a Charter Convention to reform the organization.

On November 13-14, 1982, the World Tang Soo Do Association was formed. An emblem was created to embody this new worldwide Tang Soo Do organization, a new belt hierarchy was developed and, most importantly, Jae Chul Shin was unanimously proclaimed Grandmaster of this new organization.

At the Charter Convention, three important mottoes were declared as principles of the new organization - Traditionalism, Professionalism and Brotherhood. These mottos stand today as the guiding principles of the WTSDA.

With the advent of the World Tang Soo Do Association, Tang Soo Do began a new era of development as a traditional martial art. The World Tang Soo Do Association has grown tremendously through the years, from 164 Charter Members to 200,000 members in 36 countries worldwide. The WTSDA encompasses 22 Regions, (http://www.wtsda.com/regions/index.asp) and has promoted more than 10,000 students to the rank of Black Belt.

For more information about the history and philosophy of Tang Soo Do and the World Tang Soo Do Association, read "Traditional Tang Soo Do: Volume I: The Essence," by Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin. See the WTSDA website at http://www.worldtangsoodo.com/newsite/orderforms.php  for details.