Is Tang Soo Do Korean?

Discussion in 'Tang Soo Do' started by dancingalone, Nov 26, 2014.

  1. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    Well, just 'trolling' a bit since this section is dead. Anyone care to discuss whether TSD/SBD should continue to be considered a Korean martial art considering most of the art's leaders are in the USA and that projected growth of the art will continue to be in the west, given the official Korean government sanction of taekwondo as the national sport/martial art?
     
  2. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, the origins are Japanese. The Founder was Korean. The changes made by the Founder that made it TSD/SBD make it Korean. If you want to consider it an American art, then you'd have to show what substantive changes have been made that make it no longer TSD/SBD.
     
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  3. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    Well, I'm going with the leadership aspect of it. As the older generation retires due to one reason or another (age, death, etc.), who are replacing them? Generally, westerners as I understand it. And given that there's not much of a constant re-infusion of Korean born talent into TSD/SBD... How does something stay Korean if its practitioners aren't Korean with the innate cultural and lingual pinings behind the art?

    We don't say TSD is Korean because of anything distinctive about the PHYSICAL practice, do we? Perhaps peet chagi might be the singular example I can think of, but I'm inclined to think it's more about the ethos and such imparted by instructors well and truly immersed in the same stew that produced GM Hwang Kee.
     
  4. reeskm

    reeskm Green Belt

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    I think it is way too early to start taking the Korean flags off our dobok, dancingalone.

    You can look at this from a large number of angles, but if you consider we owe most of our current customs and technical modifications, to the small group of Koreans who started the first Kwans in the 1940s, it remains Korean Karate. Call it Tang Soo Do, Kong Soo Do, Soo Bahk Do, Tae Kwon Do, Tae Soo Do or what have you - it's just a name chosen for political or philosophical reasons.

    To those that wan't to cut their ties to this history, remember that at the end of the day, those early Korean kwan leaders and students in the early years put Karate into action. They trained with tremendous spirit. They survived incredible odds and horrible conditions. They battle tested it during WW2, the Korean War, The post Korean war, the Vietnam War, and Cold War, through successive military juntas, and ultimately it became refined and validated as a form of self defense.

    They even made it into a very successful Olympic sport. They also modified it further in my opinion and incorporated it into other yusul and kuksool military and special forces arts.

    I think we should honour and keep that legacy.

    Kim Yong Duk (Dan Bon #2 in MDK) passed away this month. I found out he was awarded the Hwa Rang Order of Military Merit. I want to know how he got that award during the Korean war. Incredible!
     
  5. reeskm

    reeskm Green Belt

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    Can we add Okinawa in here too? Can we just agree that in the end, Tang Soo Do is Karate? Yes, you cannot discount the incredible legacy the Americans gave to this art during the "Blood And Guts" era of competition and expansion in the USA. I think the lineage or origins is obvious to us now.

    It's now a global art!
     
  6. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Sure, you can add Okinawa. And India. And Og, who first discovered that if you hit Rawg in the throat, he fell over sooner than if you hit him in the sternum.
     
  7. Makalakumu

    Makalakumu Gonzo Karate Apocalypse

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    This is a good question. I think we might want to be very careful about slapping a cultural label down on the art and saying distinctively that it is _____. I like the fact that Tang Soo Do draws from so many traditions. I think this invites the idea that the art can grow and change and can incorporate new traditions.
     
  8. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    I'm not proposing anyone make any changes. I have no dog in this hunt at all.

    But for the sake of discussion, what does honoring and keeping legacy mean to you? Bowing to the Korean flag? Using Korean terminology and adhering to a few customs like the Korean handshake and turning away from your seniors when drinking? I'd argue that those are superficial things at best and since I'm going strawman here, I'd love to see TSD people come alive in this section and discuss what makes their practice of TSD Korean.
     
  9. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    I have no idea what the numbers of Korean vs. Western practitioners of Tang Soo Do are. I know that TSD, and Hwang Kee's SBD, is small in Korea compared to KKW TKD. But I am not sure that simply because a certain art has more practitioners of a certain nationality that means the "nationality" of that art should change. And, FWIW, "westerner" isn't a nationality at all so we shouldn't really draw a comparison between "Korean" and "Westerner."

    I tend to think that arts are distinguished by both their physical and philosophical aspects. While TSD and SBD may have roots in Japanese or Okinawan arts, and apparently in Chinese arts according to some claims, they look like they move differently from their Japanese forerunners.

    I know Hwang Kee developed a pattern set that seems to be much more influenced by Chinese "soft" arts at one point. That alone I would say is a development in the physical aspect of the art. But some branches of Tang Soo Do which broke with Hwang Kee don't practice the newer forms he came up with so it might be a different kettle of fish when you're talking about them. Like other arts you get different branches giving you different snapshots from during the arts development. You can see this easily in "ITF Taekwon-Do." Tons of people say they do Chang Hun style even if they don't do it like Gen. Choi said he wanted it done after 1983 or so.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
  10. reeskm

    reeskm Green Belt

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    Chris,
    you bring up some good points. I went to an ITF TKD school for the first time last night, and can definitely see a big difference in the basics from MDK TSD. It feels totally different and very strange to completely change the way blocks are done.

    To the OP's question: I think you could start making the same argument for some Japanese Karate practitioners in the west. They have had such a long history teaching way from their roots in Okinawa and Japan. Some have kept in touch with their roots and some instructors try very hard to spend several months in Japan every year, but I don't think this is the majority!

    Kempo and ChuckKwonDo are good examples of made in America hybrid arts like this. Can you put some MMA schools in this category?

    So, should certain Karate schools stop being considered "Japanese"? I don't think so. What about the Sikaran stylists? etc.
     
  11. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    For the majority, I would haphazard to say.

    Certainly.

    I don't know what Sikaran is. I do think however that it would be interesting to define a scale of Korean-ness using things such as Chris mentions above to try to objectively quantify what range martial arts like Tang Soo Do fall into. My entirely unscientific opinion is that Tang Soo Do is like iceberg slowly drifting away from the original mass that is Korea simply because the people on the iceberg aren't Korean and its next to impossible to reconnect at this time.

    Even the SBD people will start to face this over time. Does anyone know who HC Hwang's appointed successor is? Someone in his family?
     
  12. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    I think the conclusion to be drawn from the numbers is logical enough, but by all means present a counter argument if you are so minded. The position is such: You cannot teach a mindset that you do not follow yourself. You cannot promulgate a cultural view or teach a society's customs unless you have been immersed in it yourself and for the most that means being born into it to begin with.

    As for the Westerner label, I am simply using it for short hand for Americans, Canadians, British, and a few TSD/SBD enclaves in South America and mainland Europe. The NOT Korean crowd in other words, and I don't think it matters much whether we consider them singularly or in the aggregate. None of them culturally are Koreans in language, custom, history, or national ethos and philosophy. I'm also aware that I'm making this comparison from a very macro level and I'm cognizant of the difficulties therein.

    By the way, Happy Turkey Day to everyone! I'm off to eat an early lunch, but perhaps I'll be on later.
     
  13. reeskm

    reeskm Green Belt

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    Definitely this makes you reflect on the "what was, what is, what will be".
    I think dividing this issue along the lines of east and west is nothing new. It shows up in very old issues of Black Belt.

    Yes, a very happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! I miss the turkey and pumpkin pie bigtime!
     
  14. reeskm

    reeskm Green Belt

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    I used to think Sikaran was he same as Arnis (stick fighting) until I found this:
    http://www.sikaranpilipinas.com/History/pdf/Special-Edition_Sikaran.pdf
    (See especially P.63)
    And: Sikaran Pilipinas

    My favorite is the calligraphy: "The world is one family, the brotherhood of all mankind".

    (note: big PDF)

    A summary for those that want it: Sikaran was accepted as a valid and unique form of Philipino Karate by Hwang Kee, Yoon Kwe-Byung and Koichi Kondo and WUKO, prior to TKD being accepted into the Olympics and before WUKO changed its name to the World Karate Federation (WKF). They were also recognized and supported by Yamaguchi Gogen, among others.

    A personal observation: H C Hwang features in these Goodwill Tournaments and knew all about this. So did C.S. Kim and many other "greats". His current direction that he is taking with the SooBahkDo MooDukKwan organization really perplexes me. At one time, he and his father were promoting Karate as a worldwide sport, art and fraternity determined to unite literally all Karate around the world. Did they lose out to the WTF TaeKwonDo and give up on this phenomenal dream? Maybe they realized just how politically difficult this would be? Was it because the controversial Sasagawa was involved?
     
  15. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    I'm not sure I agree with the bolded part above. People can come to varying degrees of understanding of a different culture without having been born into that culture. I know some fairly senior martial artists in Korean and Chinese arts that are not ethnically Korean or Chinese but who have a good understanding of those cultures as well as - and I think perhaps this is an important distinction to make since many of the traditons of a particular art might appear odd to non-martial artists of that culture - those respective martial arts cultures. I am pretty comfortable saying they know more about, for example, Taekwon--Do and Tanglangquan than many Koreans or Chinese, including the cultural and philosophical aspects. But they'd never say those arts aren't Korean or Chinese.

    FWIW, the culture, etiquette, customs, etc. that are taught as part of a particular art (or many of them, anyway) are not necessarily ends in themselves but are means to an end which, ultimately, transcends the particular culture with which it's associated. Gen. Choi's take on the philosophy of Taekwon-Do certainly seems to be an example of this, although ITF practitioners aren't about to jettison the Korean cultural aspects of his art. The physical training and the moral culture of Taekwon-Do (or as he calls it in Korean Jungshin Sooyang - which actually literally translates as "spiritual discipline") are delivery systems for a more universal philosophy. The "Koreaness" of an art will ultimately be transcended, just as the ethnic undergirdings of any art, whether it's Japanese, Chinese, etc. But those cultural differences aren't unimportanmt since they give the practitioners a particular view/path to follow in tthe first place.

    So, to get back to the original point, regardless of how many Korean practitioners there are of Tang Soo Do/Soo Bahk Do I'd personally say that if these things hold true for the system Hwang Kee founded than it is still a Korean art.

    I know there are a handful of Japanese arts that have (legitimate) western inheritors, but they don't call them American arts now.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
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  16. Laplace_demon

    Laplace_demon Black Belt

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    Did you find any difference as to the kicking?
     
  17. reeskm

    reeskm Green Belt

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    Yes, as a matter of fact. They do not bend their knees for crescent kicks, and they keep them locked out. They do theirs in a full arc where each part of the motion is done at a steady rate and then foot dropped to the ground. This is how I used to do it when I had less experience. IMHO, this causes damage to the knees and is less powerful.
    In contrast, I make sure to keep my knee slightly bent. I also ensure that I snap my foot around, pivoting my body and using my hips. By snapping my kicks, I put more speed into the apex of the arc, and then return the kick to the knee. So mine goes chamber, accelerate, snap, decelerate, re-chamber, then if i feel like it put the foot down.

    For their side kicks, they ask to cock the knee up in the usual place, with the kicking leg parallel to the ground, and the body leaned over as far as possible before the kick is thrust out.
    The difference in my kick is that I too, pivot and bring my leg parallel to the ground, but I keep my body upright and back straight, and then as my kick goes out to the target I lean my body over, and I then return the kick back to it's chamber and put my back up straight when I'm done. I don't know how to recover my balance the way that ITF school did kicks.

    Important note: I won't name the school and I don't know if all ITF schools do kicks this way. Overall, I thought they had a very decent program and I don't want others to think I'm taking a shot at them.
     
  18. Laplace_demon

    Laplace_demon Black Belt

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    Sounds very strange. My ITF school does not perform crescent kicks that way, for the very reason you just mentioned.

    These kicks looks pretty much the same as ours:

     
  19. reeskm

    reeskm Green Belt

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    Laplace_demon:
    agreed it seems strange.

    That video is a good reference. Tangsoodo.ie is reputable org and from a general view a good representative of what I was talking about. It's a bit fast to analyze in detail, however.
     
  20. Oldbear343

    Oldbear343 Orange Belt

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    This is interesting - in my varied but limited experience there is some overlap between axe, crescent, and hooking kicks....
     

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