Master K

Green Belt
May 20, 2007
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Hi Everyone,

Grand Master Hwang Kee emphasized that he did not want Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan to become a sport. With that said, how does everyone feel about Tang Soo Do Competitions/Tournaments? And does that go against what Grand Master Hwang Kee desired for the art of Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan?

I am curious to hear thoughts about this. Thank you!

Patrick K.


Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Jun 27, 2011
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I've known a lot of Tang Soo guys, I work out occasionally with one now. Taught some fighting principles to his teacher back in the day. Both of these guys competed.

The times change, I believe Martial Arts reflect those changes to some degree. What GM Hwang Kee did or did not want back then might not apply to the students that followed and continued and improved their Art.


Purple Belt
Sep 9, 2009
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I'm fully supportive of competitions being an encouraged-but-optional part of an art. I've trained in arts that encourage competition, and those that don't have competition, and I personally like the intensity of training that competition can promote.

For context, I'm part of the Chuck Norris offshoot of TSD, not part of the GM Hwang Kee TSD.


Nov 7, 2017
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Southeast U.S.
I think competition can be compared to many other elements of learning a MA. It is paramount that it is done with the right frame of mind and intentions. Having been in the 'winning is everything' camp in my competitive days I can appreciate GM Hwang Kee's thought process. If competitions/tournaments are used as a training tool, and for camaraderie and fellowship I think they are very beneficial.

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
Sep 26, 2012
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Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
Sport is the path. Integration is the goal.

You test your

- striking skill in boxing.
- kicking skill in TKD.
- throwing skill in wrestling.
- ground and locking skill in BJJ

You then test your

- kick, punch, throw skill in Sanda.
- kick, punch, lock, throw, ground skill in MMA.

You then train short weapon, and long weapon. It's a long path to reach to your goal.
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Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Sep 3, 2009
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Pueblo West, CO
Dog, could you elaborate on your comment?

Sparring is, for most people, an integral part of MA training. I think it's pretty much impossible to spar without the people involved competing with each other. That doesn't make the art a sport. It becomes a sport, I think, when the competition (which will invariably include a ruleset restricting the use of at least some portion of the art) becomes the primary goal of training.
In the US, this is actually a legal definition. I don't know the background on how it all ended up in the courts, but there was apparently a case in which a school (or schools) was sued for not offering as many sporting options for females as males. Again, I don't know the details. But the school argued that cheerleading should count as a sport. The court said that it didn't count, because although cheerleading competitions certainly exist, it wasn't the primary purpose of the activity. This was based on the number of competitions they would go to, compared to the number of games they went to with the purpose of supporting the school teams. So their legal definition of sport was, essentially, an activity with the primary purpose of competing. This made sense to me. It also gave me ammo for teasing one of our daughters who was a cheerleader.
In our system, it's always been customary to have ranks within ranks. So for example, if there were 9 yellow belts and you weren't at the top end, you wouldn't need to worry about testing just yet.
During training, students can challenge people ahead of them. Or a group could challenge at the same time. The people involved come in front of the class and perform a sort of mini-test in front of the instructors and senior students. They're graded. That gives them their ranking within their belt.
That's all competition. Competition does not equal sport.

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