When is Tang Soo Do no longer Tang Soo Do?

Discussion in 'Tang Soo Do' started by Master K, May 30, 2007.

  1. Master K

    Master K Green Belt

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    Hi Everyone,

    There are two people that I communicate with. One sent me a video of himself performing Pyung Ahn Eedan. The other sent me a video of Lo Hai.

    As I watched the practitioner perform Pyung Ahn Eedan, I realized that his Tang Soo Do distinctly looked more Japanese then the one I practice. And I noticed that there were very few to zero pauses in the form. It was like watching someone literally "run" through the form.

    As I watched the form Lo Hai performed by another Tang Soo Do practitioner, I realized that his Tang Soo Do was extremely different from my Tang Soo Do. I must admit that I had a difficult time identifying the form. The practitioner had performed the movements with soft circular blocks similar to Gung Fu. There were a couple of instances where he had inserted a hard strike that resembled the hard strikes of Tang Soo Do. But the form for the most part looked a lot like a Taijiquan form.

    Now I am not saying that either of the Tang Soo Do practitioners are bad. In my opinion, they are just different. So, the conclusion that I came to was that my Tang Soo Do is different from their Tang Soo Do. This led to the questions... When does Tang Soo Do stops being Tang Soo Do and reverts/morphs/converts into another style?

    Any thoughts or ideas?

    Thanks,
    Patrick K.
     
  2. mjd

    mjd Green Belt

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    Tang Soo Do is a progressive style, which means it will evolve over time, but don't confuse this with the linage factor,

    Linage factor:
    The difference multipied by the generations of instructors from that particluar linage. The linage factor occurs with all styles and organzations and carries the atributes from physical and personal trates of those instructors, kind of like genes past down family members.

    Quality Factor:
    the quality factor which encompases the degree of technical knowledge, passed down form instructor to instructor.

    Interpatation factor:
    and last but not least you had the interputation and degree of detail passed down throught he linage.

    All of this determines how much or many differenecs occur or how the orginal knowlegde is perserved. you can see this at any tournament that has the same style with school from differnt orgs compete against each other.
     
  3. Makalakumu

    Makalakumu Gonzo Karate Apocalypse

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    Tang Soo Do is part of the greater syncreticism of the Okinawan arts. There are all sorts of interpretations depending on the interpreters martial training and environment. With that being said, I'm not sure if you can really define a fine line between what is Tang Soo Do and what is not.

    This does not mean that some distinctions are impossible however. I would say that if you were practicing versions of the old Okinawan forms, attempting to use information and concepts from those forms for self defense, and that you were calling it Tang Soo Do, then it is Tang Soo Do.

    With that being said, I think you can clearly see that there are some things that are not Tang Soo Do.
     
  4. JT_the_Ninja

    JT_the_Ninja Black Belt

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    What they said, mostly.

    It's Tang Soo Do so long as the aim is self-defense which hurts. It's Tang Soo Do so long as the techniques are similar or exactly like the ones in the hyung. It's Tang Soo Do as long as it's called "Tang Soo Do." Take your pick, any attempt at definition is going to have its exceptions.
     
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  5. Muwubu16858

    Muwubu16858 Green Belt

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    Tang Soo Do is generic like Karate. You teach yourown style of Tang Soo Do, but its still Tang Soo Do, nonetheless. Now as for your sect/kwan, that changes by the generation. Moo Duk Kwan, for example, is nothing like when it was taught 50 years ago. it's normal for the way we do things to change, but the name stays the same.
     
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  6. Miles

    Miles Senior Master

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    This is a fascinating question so I'd like to give it a "bump" and chime in from a non-TSD perspective.

    I teach Kukki-TKD. In this "style" (for lack of a better term) there is a push for standardization. There are pros and cons to standardization which were discussed in a thread in the TKD section of MT.

    From my albeit limited perspective, I do not see the same push for standardization in TSD and from the comments thus far, it appears that most TSD-in are content with the concept of Ryu Pa.

    Miles
     
  7. JT_the_Ninja

    JT_the_Ninja Black Belt

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    You haven't seen ITF-style TSD, then. *Everything* is standardized, with the possible exception of weapon ho sin sul (possible because there are standard techniques to use, but really it's whatever you can do fast enough to defend yourself that passes at a test).

    In fact, one of the founding concepts of the ITF (ITSDF, if you will) was standardization, making sure the same traditional instruction was given at each school in the federation, to the greatest extent possible.

    I'm not against standardization, completely. There are some people who just like to do their own thing, changing the way things are taught, "tournament-ifying" the hyung, and that just strikes me as ridiculous. Keep it standard, teach what's been proven, get results.
     
  8. Miles

    Miles Senior Master

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    Actually JT, I think that most organizations regardless of art strive for standardization for their member schools.

    My point was that as an art, TSD seems to have more room for differences and that it may have been GM Hwang Kee's intent that it should be that way.

    Miles
     
  9. Master K

    Master K Green Belt

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    Allow me to play devil's advocate with some of those that have responded. How many of you would consider Tae Kwon Do to be Tang Soo Do? How many of you would consider Shotokan/Shotokai Karate to be Tang Soo Do? Would you consider those examples to be Ryu Pa?

    Thanks,
    Patrick K.
     
  10. WMKS Shogun

    WMKS Shogun Green Belt

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    Interesting food for thought: Tang Soo Do (along with Kong Soo Do) was just a name for the Karate taught in Korea during and shortly after the Japanese occupation. Hwang Kee is one of the few who refused to change the name of what he was teaching (Tang Soo Do) , though he did later change it to Soo Bak Do Moo Duk Kwan. Also, other federations have broken away from Moo Duk Kwan but still kept the name Tang Soo Do. Some emphasized different aspects of the training. If there used to be so many schools that used the name Tang Soo Do, (including Jhoon Rhee, the proclaimed 'father of Tae Kwon Do in the USA' ) it is only natural to assume that many of them have diverged from what they were originally taught. (Sorry if this made little sense, it is 2 AM as I write this).
     
  11. JT_the_Ninja

    JT_the_Ninja Black Belt

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    (1) Not I. For the most part, they practice different hyung, have different stances, and even wear different uniforms.

    Then there's tournament TKD, which is even less like traditional TSD in that it's become no longer a martial art but a sport. I don't train in TSD to be able to win a tournament fight. I don't train to become the best. I train to improve myself (one word) and improve my self (two words). Sure there's the self-defense part, but the philosophy is of improving the self as opposed to destroying the enemy. It's Mr. Miyagi vs. the Kobra Kai.

    Granted, there are some more traditional schools that blur the line, but even so, TKD and TSD are two distinct arts.

    (2) Same goes for karate and TSD, though with the addition of different striking principles. In karate, kicks are low, used minimally for strikes to the knee, foot, leg, what have you. In TSD, foot techniques are just as important as hand techniques. The philosophies have diverged enough that I see TSD and karate as two similar, but distinct, martial arts.

    (3) Not familiar enough with the concept of Ryu Pa to make a judgment call there. I personally don't think so, since TSD also incorporates a few things from Chinese martial arts, as well as, by necessity, whatever forms of KMA were around at the time, which would have influenced the founders of modern TSD.
     
  12. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc Yellow Belt

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    Agreed.

    Another thing about this debate. As far as I know, TSD is a derivation from other styles of martial arts. Take the pyung forms; they're pretty much copies of the old heian forms practiced in other martial arts (shotokan karate I believe?).

    I personally think it's all a matter of tradition and preserving the philosophy of TSD, but there is obviously some flexibility as to was it really is. And also, there have probably been millions of debates about this exact subject, and I seriously doubt there is any completely correct way of looking at it. It's a bit open ended, as most major things in life are/should be.
     
  13. Master Jay S. Penfil

    Master Jay S. Penfil Blue Belt

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    Greetings to everyone…

    Patrick,
    This is a question that so many are asking, but to understand the true answer, all one has to do is read KJN Hwang Kee’s book; TANG SOO DO-SOO BAHK DO.

    Let’s all open our books to page5 at move to the bottom right side of the page and read:
    1. Tang Soo Do (weaponless fighting) began with the first human on earth.
    2. Regardless of when and where, combat ultimately originated with Tang Soo Do.
    3. Tang Soo Do is the ultimate art because weapons are temporary instruments at any time and place.
    (turn to page 6)
    4. Tang Soo Do itself has no rules and regulations, and is free. It is infinite in technique
    5. Tang Soo Do is the instinctive martial art of the human, which is the ability to use the body like a weapon.
    6. Tang Soo Do is an art eternally inseparable from the human body

    Located just below these statements on page 6, and one picture on page 7 we see three pictures that depict different ideas of what KJN Hwang Kee viewed as examples of Tang Soo Do.

    Picture #1. What appears to be a Neanderthal Man defending himself against a leopard. (The caption states: Illustration of ancient wild animals fighting)
    Picture #2. What might be two Chinese warriors on horseback. One holding a spear, the other is holding what is known as a Kwon-Dao. (The caption states: Illustration of ancient fighting techniques)
    Picture #3. This is a picture of a Sherman Tank (Caption states: Illustration of modern fight techniques)

    To sum up what I get out of this, and what I got from brief conversations with KJN Hwang Kee back in 1984, it was he belief that tang Soo Do began with the first conscious action of the first human being that raised his or her hand in defense against man or beast.

    Hwang Kee did not create any of the hyung that were originally used to incorporate Tang Soo Do as his system. They all, without exception, came from Okinawan Karate. He learned them from other Korean instructors who traveled to Japan during the Japanese Occupation of Korea and earned their knowledge and rank from Funakoshi (Founder of Shotokan).

    Let’s now move to page #8:
    Chapter II
    Tang Soo Do
    Culture and History:

    This page starts with:

    It is regrettable that it is necessary to mention that some leaders in the martial arts ”invented” the origin of their art, which is not proper or reasonable , neither for their own honor nor as an introduction for their students.

    This is a key statement, as KJN Hwang Kee is clearly admitting here that what he taught came from other sources and was assembled by him and given his own flavor.

    KJN Hwang Kee brought in his own unique characteristics to make the system his own. If I choose to bring back the principles and concepts taught in the generations of systems that pre-date Tang Soo Do (as KJN Hwang Kee taught it) would what I teach still be considered (by KJN Hwang Kee) TANG SOO DO???

    If we read what KJN Hwang Kee wrote, and respect his open minded way of perceiving what HE considered to be TANG SOO DO, what I teach has to be… TANG SOO DO.


    If I train with senior ranking masters and grandmasters from many systems (that all use the same hyung/kata), learn all of their principles and concepts and determine that there are some that work far better than others and choose to teach those principles and concepts in my school, I see that as being true, and responsible to myself and to my students.

    If I find through the course of my journey that there is a better way to execute a technique, or a way that works better is certain situations, and I choose to ignore it and just keep on doing what has been passed down to me by my seniors because I am told too, I see that as being false to myself, and more importantly to those who trust in me to deliver the very best material that I know exists!!!

    Integrity is something that we all talk about, but, in this world, few truly follow through with. I bring integrity to the table EVERY DAY, to EVERY CLASS, to EVERY STUDENT…

    If anyone thinks that what I teach is not TANG SOO DO, walk into my dojang and prove me wrong…

    Here is the final piece to the answer for the question that you have asked:

    Tang Soo Do is no longer Tang Soo Do when you choose to lie down and die without putting up a fight.
    Never retreat in battle!!!

    If you raise you hands in defense against man or beast, you are performing TANG SOO DO…

    I don’t care if you learned the technique from Hwang Kee, Tatsuo Shimabuku, Gichen Funakoshi, Mohammad Ali, or the street fighter down the block!!!

    KJN Hwang Kee said it as clearly as I need it to be said. He stated, in his mind, that he:
    1. doesn’t know who was the first Tang Soo Do practitioner,
    2. what country he/she was born in,
    3. who he/she was defending against,
    4. why he/she was being attacked,
    5. if he/she chose to use a stick or a rock as defensive tools,
    6. and so on…

    It’s all TANG SOO DO. The questions to ask are:
    1. Who do you choose to follow, and for how long?
    2. At what point in your training have you learned enough to move to the next step and bring together all that you know and devise your own way?
    3. If you do devise your own way, should your instructor feel insulted, and kick you out for doing things differently that he does them?
    4. Should such decisions end long standing relationships?

    So many questions, so little time…

    Do you catch my drift???



    Yours in TANG SOO DO,


    Master Jay S. Penfil


    TANG SOO!!!
     
  14. Chizikunbo

    Chizikunbo Purple Belt

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    Nice Post Sir!

    I agree 100%
     
  15. JT_the_Ninja

    JT_the_Ninja Black Belt

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    What about the hyung GM Hwang Kee invented himself? Just to play devil's advocate here.
     
  16. Chizikunbo

    Chizikunbo Purple Belt

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    According to Grandmasters own words, they (Chil Sung, Yuk Rho, Hwa Sun, Ship Dahn Kuhm) are still Tang Soo Do, but maybe Tang Soo Do and Soo Bahk Do...I think GM used the terms quite interchangeably, except that TSD became generic where SBD stayed specific...
     
  17. JT_the_Ninja

    JT_the_Ninja Black Belt

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    My comment was more pointed at Master Jay's comment about all TSD hyung being Okinawan in origin. Then again, I don't do chil sung or yuk ro hyung...

    ...but even so, isn't there a Chinese-based hyung? And shouldn't there also be some Korean influence, since that's where he lived?
     
  18. Chizikunbo

    Chizikunbo Purple Belt

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    There were two Chinese forms, Yang Ryu Tae Keuk Kwon (Yang Style Ultimate Supreme Fist - Yang Tai Chi Chuan), and So Rim Jang Kwan (Shoalin Long Fist)...Also GM studied Dahm Doi Ship Ee Rho (12 Springing Legs of Shoalin)...and most of what is still considered TSD (not SBD) today, IS Okinawan in origin...I dont think Master Penfil's post was supposed to be an end all rule, but an observation as to the Tang Soo Do he practices ;-)
    --josh
     
  19. Master Jay S. Penfil

    Master Jay S. Penfil Blue Belt

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    JT,
    With respect to the Chil Sung and Yuk Ro series, they are considered Soo Bahk Do, not Tang Soo Do.

    I learned the first four hyung while I was in the Federation. When we left the Federation I discontinued teaching them, and I have not spent time learning the last three or any of the Yuk Ro Hyung. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want too, or that I won’t. I just feel that with all that I have at this time to work with,

    The important thing for me, that I see lacking in most associations is the depth of understanding that one should strive to develop. Too many practitioners learn the rudimentary movements, and never get any further. They want to learn more, so they add another hyung to their curriculum. They memorize a new pattern of movements and THINK that they have grown… MORE is not always better.

    I knew a guy a couple of years ago that taught Kuk Sul Won. He was a Som-Dan. He invited me and some other instructors to a testing and demonstration that was held here in my area. The grandmaster came in from Texas. We went, we saw, and we left extremely disappointed. The testing requirements for each rank were some vast in number of techniques, that none of the students had the time to truly understand any of them. They were able to grunt through the testing with the bare minimum of ability one could imagine… everyone passed.

    He invited us down to his school to do some training with us. My training partner, Sifu Bruce Silver (Classical Wing Chun) was there. The instructor asked Bruce to spar. Bruce tried to decline in order to spare him the embarrassment of being beaten on his own floor in front of his students. He insisted, and Bruce beat him from one side of the room to the other several times. At the end, he was on the floor crying like a baby, in front of his entire student base. He stated that he was training for 16 years, and new over a thousand techniques. How could you beat me so badly? Bruce explained to him that he would have been much better off learning a dozen techniques properly, and how to apply them than simply memorizing a thousand techniques that he couldn’t use to save is life.

    In this case, less is more (better)

    If I take the time to learn a new hyung, and it doesn’t really have anything new to teach me; just another combination of the same techniques over and over again, what am I really learning?

    There was a time when those who trained with the hyung that we use only learned between one and maybe five hyung in their whole life. These practitioners were not competing in tournaments with the knowledge that they gained from their training, they were going out in the world and using it to save their lives or the lives of their loved ones. They could not afford to have, simply a superficial understanding of the techniques comprised in their hyung. They had to have such a deep understanding, and ability to put them into action that, if they missed, it meant loss of life…

    Think of it this way; would you rather:
    A) Poses the ability to defend yourself and your loved ones against anything that attacks you,
    B) or fill your head with so much material that when that point in time comes (G-d-forbid) that you MUST have the necessary skill level to survive the attack or die, you are too confused by the volume of moves to choose from, and the necessary muscle memory was never instilled in you?

    A or B??? You choose…


    I have to start class now.


    Yours in Tang Soo Do,


    Master Jay S. Penfil


    TANG SOO!!!
     
  20. JT_the_Ninja

    JT_the_Ninja Black Belt

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    Good points all, Master Jay. I've seen videos of stuff like that happening.

    I would still like to point out, though, that many non-ITF TSD schools still teach the chil sung and yuk ro forms...I competed in a tournament with a TSD 2nd dan this past May who did one of the chil sung hyung (ee ro or sam ro) for the forms competition. Cool guy, about 2 or 3 years my junior...loved talking about how he was awesome at power breaking and speed breaking.
    We found some thrown-away unbroken boards at one point, so we practiced a bit for our breaks. I needed some encouragement that I was going to be able to put my instep through a board, and he wanted to show me how he could speed-break a board with a one-finger attack (two fingers out, though, so he didn't look like he was giving the finger). He held the board for me, and I did my spinning 360-degree jump round kick, broke it nicely. Felt good, especially because I practice that move purposefully before every class, when I have time. Then he held out a board (a kids board, slightly smaller than our 9"x12"x1" boards), and proceeded to break his finger jamming it into the board. So he could only do two stations for the breaking and missed out placing (we had a 3-way 3rd-place tie). I stuck to what I've been practicing and got 2nd. Shows the difference between knowing a lot and practicing a lot.
     

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