Quest For The Truth – The Origin of Tang Soo Do's Forms – by John Hancock

Quest For The Truth – The Origin of Tang Soo Do’s Forms – by John Hancock.


On pages 15 and 16 of that text, it clearly states that Hwang Kee’s knowledge and understanding of the majority of the forms taught within tang soo do, including the pyong ahn hyung, came from reading and studying Japanese books on Okinawan karate. Hwang discovered those books in the library of the train station where he worked in Seoul in 1939. We can only speculate as to which books those were, but I would venture that Funakoshi’s Ryukyu Kempo Karate (1922) was among them.

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9 responses to “Quest For The Truth – The Origin of Tang Soo Do's Forms – by John Hancock

  1. Adam says, Seriously, I am not Mr. Karate.

    Taekwondo is also afflicted with similar problems-

    it is pretty much proven that Taekwondo is mostly a Korean version of Japanese Karate with tons of kicks- and that the art it was named to sound like is the indigenous Korean martial art (taekkyon)

    Even the bigwigs in the World Taekwondo Federation admit to this. (Written in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts by Robert Young, current Editor of Black Belt Magazine! In it he knocks down all pseudohistory behind all popular Korean arts.

  2. Taekwondo Kick is uniquely Korean.
    Taekwondo is Korean martial arts not okinawan or japanese.
    Taekwondo was not influenced by China or Japan.
    Taekwondo is home breed Korean Martial Art.
    Tang Soo Do is a offshoot from Taekwondo.

  3. I understand your passion for what you practice, but spend a little time with some early 20th century karate books and then look at the early Taekwon-do- they are obviously very closely related. If that doesn’t convince you, how did the exact same kata/poomse that developed out of Okinawan karate in Japan arrive in Korea? Names might have changed, but the kata/poomse are more or less the exact same as in early shotokan. They came to Korea, not the other way around.

  4. Randy, the reality is. Taekwondo and Karate comparison came into limelight when Taekwondo became offical Olympic sport. Before that on Internet or Books there wasn’t any comparison between two martial arts. Like Korean language, Korean Food, Korean Culture, Koreans did very good job for centuries keeping things uniquely Korean. Korean Martial Arts is no exception such as Taekwondo, Hapkido, Hwarangdo, Tang Soo Do, Ssirum, Sip Pal Ki, Taekgyun.

    You should always keep in mind. Okinawa Island was part of China not Japan. Many of Okinawan Karate forms such as KI ( Uniform), Kata, comes from Chinese Kung Fu. So when you began argument or discussion such as Taekwondo ” Origin” or ” influences” came from Shotokan or Okinawan Karate. It becomes very vague because Okinawa and Karate method to began with wasn’t Japanese. For example, Kyokushin Karate was founded by Korean Martial Artist. Do you think Kyokushin Karate is 100 percent made in Japan??? Answer is……. ” No” right?!

    You must keep very open mind when your discussing ” cultural influences” between Korea and Japan. If you look in historical reality the ” cultural influences” always were other way around Korea to Japan. Plus 36 years of Japanese Military Occupation over Korean Peninsula didn’t change Koreans or Korean Martial Art as a whole. Korean Martial Arts was still remain intact. Japanese 36 years could not destroy or erase Korean Cultural essence. That is true reality between Korea and Japan.

  5. Comparisons between early TKD and Japanese karate are hardly new or dependent on the internet. Again, why are the forms identical to the early shotokan versions? I have no love for shotokan or Japanese karate, so I am not defending them per se, but the influence is undeniable under critical comparison. Why did the names of the forms change after a few years to more Korean ones, when initially they were renderings of the Japanese names?

    Japanese karate came out of Okinawan karate which owes a large part of it’s syllabus to Chinese arts, true. So in the exact same way, Korean TKD as it is now known owes much of it’s development to Japanese karate of the 1920’s and 30’s. Pick up one of the early books by Choi and compare it to Funakoshi’s first books- the kata are identical, the terms are identical. Korea may indeed have it’s own indigenous arts. but TKD is very obviously the product of contact with Japanese ideas about karate, just as Hapkido is a product of exposure to Daito Ryu and Aikido under Japanese occupation. Does that make one superior or inferior? No it just points out the fact that the Korean interpretation of that material did not spring up overnight or come from a 1000 year old tradition as it is often claimed.

    Okinawa was not part of China. Ryukyu maintained economic and trade partner ties with both Japan and China for several centuries and went to great lengths to conceal one relationship from the other nation. When China was challenged openly over it’s claims to Okinawa as a tributary partner, China fore fitted that relationship to Japan and Japan officially annexed the island. If China had laid claim to Okinawa there would have been a conflict; instead China gave Japan exclusive trade rights with Okinawa because keeping that relationship was the least of their problems at the time. The gi/ki is a Japanese development, by the way. Early karate practitioners in Okinawan trained in their underwear.

  6. You should read “A Killing Art” by Alex Gillis – talks about the untold history of Taekwondo.

    General Choi named the art “Taekwondo”, before him there was no Taekwondo. He learned Taekkyon and Japanese Karate and combined the two to form taekwondo.

    I have been to Korea, lived there for over a year. I have great respect for Korean culture and traditions. I have talked to Korean instructors who clearly state that Taekwondo is not purely Korean.

    I have trained in both systems and in Japanese Shotokan Karate.
    Taekkyon, Ssirum and Korean Archery are the only pure Korean martial arts left.

    Mas Oyama learned Shippalgi- 18 Hands- a Korean style very influenced by Chinese gongfu, but most of his style is a mix of Goju and Shotokan and also incorporating lots of kicks (which are found in Taekkyon). He

    Only Song Duk-ki and Shin Han-Seung have been awarded an “Intangible Korean Heritage” award from the Korean government. General Choi did not. Until in recent times, taekkyon was completely eclipsed by taekwondo, and only a few devoted people kept the art alive. There is still often a misconception that Taekkwondo is Taekkyon, which it is absolutely not. Their stances, footwork, techniques are different.

    Why? Taekkyon is purely Korean, unlike Taekwondo (virtually every early proponent of Taekwondo trained in Japan or learned a Japanese karate system).

    Read the following history of Taekwondo:

    The History and Development of Taekkyon- knocks out all the myths about Taekwondo being a purely Korean art

    Here is a history of the major founders of Taekwondo: – Learned Shotokan – Yoon Byung In Learned Karate Gwe-Byung Yoon- learned Karate

    Grandmaster Hwang Kwang Sung says- Before 1955- THERE WAS NO TAEKWONDO! Also- Gen. Choi talks about learning Karate in Japan!

    WTF Ex President Chong Woo Lee’s Shocking Confession- The cat’s out of the bag regarding the history of Taekwondo!

  7. Keep in mind. There are three Taekwondo Organization.

    World Taekwondo Federation: South Korea.
    International Taekwondo Federation: North Korea.
    North America Taekwondo Federation: USA and Canada.

    1920’s ( When Korea was under Japan Military Dictatorship).
    White KI ( Uniform) Possibly from Shotokan ( Maybe).
    Poomse/ Kata. Debatable.
    Taekwondo Concept: Korean Martial Art existed. ( We are not debating this fact). How much did Shotokan Karate influenced Taekwondo??

    For example, Kyokushin Karate was founded by Korean Martial Artist. Do you think Kyokushin Karate is 100 percent made in japan?

  8. Keep in mind: Taekwondo is modern day name for ( Korean combined form Martial Art). Even though Korean Peninsula was under Japanese military dictatorship for 36 years. Korean Martial Art and culture existed.

  9. Actually there are far more organizations then that!

    ITF is now made up of three organizations, there are multiple taekwondo organizations in the United States and the world like ITA, USTF, GTF, ATA, etc.

    Shotokan Karate is the backbone style for Taekwondo. General Choi combined it with the existing martial art of taekkyon, whose stances, footwork, rules, uniform and training methods are so unlike karate. Compare Shotokan karate to taekkyon and taekwondo- taekwondo looks far more like Shotokan karate then taekkyon does.

    General Choi trained in both taekkyon and karate- so which influence is greater? Obviously the Shotokan influence! He also added Hapkido (Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu as taught by Sokaku Takeda’s Korean student Yong Shul Choi). The taekwondo concept did not exist before General Choi. Taekkyon did, Ssirum existed also, too.



    Kyokushinkai’s forms are from Goju Ryu and Shotokan Karate, its basics are similar, virtually identical to other Okinawan and Japanese styles. Mas Oyama also trained in shippalgi (Koreanized kungfu and also Chinese kungfu).

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