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Brief History of Tang Soo Do


Ancient trade routes from India to China, Japan, Korea, and other Far Eastern countries helped spread knowledge and understanding of various fighting systems. Karate is the result of several centuries of shared knowledge, greatly influenced by Okinawa Te (Okinawa Hand) and Chinese fighting systems. The original pronunciation of "Karate" using two Chinese characters is "Kara Hand" or the hand of the Kara Kingdom. Kara is the name of an ancient province of China, and therefore some far eastern countries refer to it as China Hand Way, or "Tang Soo Do."

The Okinawans, and Japanese rephased these characters in circa 1935, and thus changing the meaning of Karate to "Empty Hand." The term Tang Soo Do continued to be used throughout Korea though. Generally, modern day reference to Tang Soo Do therefore relates to Korean Karate.

Korea's geographical position between China and Japan means that it has often been at risk from invasion, and colonisation. The most recent colonisation was by the Japanese, who ruled Korea during much of the early twentieth century and until the end of the Second World War in 1945. Protracted periods of occupation by the Chinese and Japanese have therefore impacted greatly upon Korea's culture. Korea's fighting arts have consequently been heavily influenced by Chinese and Japanese fighting systems. 

During the Second World War, several Koreans attended university in Japan. Some of these students learned Karate while in Japan, from instructors like Gichin Funakoshi. On their return to Korea, many of these students opened the first generation of Tang Soo Do schools, or Kwans. These schools included the; Song Moo Kwan, Chung Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, and Ji Do Kwan. These schools were initially successful, but were disrupted in 1950, with the onset of the Korean War.

Following the Korean War conflict, the Moo Duk Kwan system flourished under the direction of Grandmaster Hwang Kee and several Dojangs (schools) opened. It accounted for around 75% of all Tang Soo Do students and was widely taught in schools, to the police, and at Naval and Airforce bases. During 1957 US servicemen started receiving Tang Soo Do while based in Korea. This undoubtedly contributed hugely to the art spreading to the USA and Europe.

During the 1960’s, the Moo Duk Kwan, and the title "Tang Soo Do" survived several political attempts to unify all of the Korean martial arts under the single umbrella of Taekwondo. Throughout this period, Taekwondo grew in strength and the Moo Duk Kwan lost several students to this. Tang Soo Do prevailed though maintaining its identity as a traditional martial art, and not following a sport orientated path like some Tae Kwon Do organisations.

Some organisations claim that Tang Soo Do has its roots with indigenous, and ancient Korean fighting systems. Its lineage, and root is undoubtedly back to Okinawa though. Tang Soo Do is therefore a composite martial art heavily influenced by Okinawan Karate but also embodying elements of Tae Kuk Kwon (Tai Chi). 

Detailed information and some very good articles regarding the origins of Tang Soo Do are available via the Tang Soo Do World web site


The Origin of Calderdale Family Karate

 SBN Martyn Greenwood started practicing martial arts in 1983. He initially studied Shotokan and Kempo Karate in West Yorkshire before spending two-years in the North East of England practicing Shukokai, and Shotokan Karate. He then returned to West Yorkshire looking for another martial arts club. At the same time Tang Soo Do was being introduced for the first time in West Yorkshire.

In 1988, SBN Greenwood enrolled for first ever Tang Soo Do lesson in Halifax. He subsequently spent 22-years training with the same group. During this time, he taught Tang Soo Do in sports centres throughout West Yorkshire and achieved Master status. Some of the students he taught from White belt, are now teaching classes in their own right.

 Unfortunately, he became disillusioned with; political interference from the group’s governing body, the lack of leadership, and limited technical input for senior grades. He therefore left this group in 2010 and took a break from teaching to focus on his own training and development. He started training with another Tang Soo Do group based in the North West of England. This experience introduced him to different approaches, and applications for Tang Soo Do.

In 2012, SBN Greenwood founded Calderdale Family Karate. The venue for the first ever lesson in Calderdale was Brighouse High School and there were only around five people there. After moving venues a few times, the Club relocated its classes to two centres in Halifax. The Club later expanded its classes to two additional centres in Brighouse.

Calderdale Family Karate was originally under the umbrella of another large Tang Soo Do governing body but later went independent. Independence has allowed the Club to operate free of any constraints while providing a comprehensive traditional Tang Soo Do syllabus. The Club continues to flourish under these arrangements, and maintains close links with neighbouring clubs in the North of England.

The Calderdale Family Karate syllabus reflects that Tang Soo Do is an all-inclusive martial art. It continues to teach Tang Soo Do in the traditional manner while accepting that martial arts need to evolve and develop. The curriculum therefore follows the "Ryu Pa" philosophy. Ryu Pa is a Korean term meaning “a river flowing down divided” and denotes progressive change, or development. The Club badge therefore uses the ancient "ouroboros" symbol of a dragon eating its tail. It represents a continual cycle life, growth, and rebirth.  leading to immortality.

The Club has a clear vision about what it wants to achieve and the legacy it wants to leave. We are committed to providing enjoyable, and affordable lessons which are free from politics.

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