Tang Soo Do - Korea: meaning "China Hand Way" Tang Soo Do is a Korean martial art which teaches empty hand and foot fighting, fighting forms, self-defense, and weapons. Tang Soo Do also teaches people to live a healthy and harmonious life. This ancient martial art traces its lineage back 2,000 years to the Korean peninsula. Tang Soo Do not only teaches physical techniques but also trains us to practice "DO" way of life through practice of the five virtues; "IN" -humanity, "UI"-righteousness, "YIE"-etiquette, "JI"-wisdom and "SHIN"-trust. When we reach the ultimate level of "DO", we can live in perfect harmony with the laws of nature.
Forms (hyung) varies on the founder or head of the different federations of Tang Soo Do. Tang Soo do forms are a set among of moves demonstrating a defensive or aggressive action for every movement. They are based on a offender attacking and one demonstrating the form reacting to their attack. They are generally memorized and demonstrated at a test for ranking up or a tournament.
One-step sparring (Il Su Sik Dae Ryun) techniques are best described as a choreographed pattern of defense against the single step of an attack. Usually performed in pairs, this starts with a bow for respect. One partner then attacks, often with a simple punch, and the other person will perform a series of premeditated techniques, often in a block-attack-takedown sequence.
Though variation is extensive, Tang Soo Do free-sparring is similar to competitive matches in other traditional Okinawan and Korean striking systems and often shows elements of American freestyle point karate. Tang Soo Do sparring consist of point matches based on the three-point rule (first contestant to score three points wins) or a two-minute rule (a tally of points over one two minute round; but see also AAU taekwondo point sparring handbook). Lead and rear-leg kicks and lead and rear-arm hand techniques all score equally (one point per technique) and to encourage the use of jump and spin kick two points are awarded for these, and three points are awarded for a jumping spin kick. Open-hand techniques (see AAU taekwondo point sparring handbook) and leg sweep take-downs are typically not allowed.
As in karate-do kumite, scoring techniques in Tang Soo Do competition should be decisive; that is, all kicking and hand techniques that score should be delivered with sufficient footing and power so that if they were delivered without being controlled they would stop the aggressive motion of the opponent. There are also similarities between American freestyle point sparring (as stated above, see NASKA link below) and Tang Soo Do point sparring. Much of the footwork is the same, but the position of the body when executing blows is markedly different between the styles of competition. Rapid fire pump-kicking seen in American freestyle point sparring is sometimes used in Tang Soo Do competition. However in order to score, the final kick in the pump-kick combination should be delivered from a solid base and with sufficient power or the technique is not considered decisive. Consequently, the pace of a Tang Soo Do match can be somewhat slower than would be seen at a typical NASKA-type tournament, but the techniques (theoretically) should be somewhat more recognizable as linear, powerful blows that are delivered from reliably stable stances and body positions.
Variation between Tang Soo Do competitions is extensive, but are typically standardized within the various associations. Because modern Tang Soo Do was developed at the same time as Tae Kwon Do and because many Tae Kwon Do practitioners enjoy Tang Soo Do competition, the powerful rear leg and spinning kick techniques used in both ITF and WTF Tae Kwon Do are commonplace traditional Tang Soo Do competitions, but are not delivered with full contact to the head.
Tang Soo Do sparring is a contact event. Though often billed as "light" or "no-contact", the typical level of contact is controlled to the body and head (in dan divisions). Contact in Tang Soo Do sparring is considered essential in understanding proper technique and developing mental preparedness and a level of relaxation critical to performance in stressful situations. Lessons learned from contact sparring can be applied to all aspects of life. That said, unnecessarily or disrespectfully harming your opponent in Tang Soo Do sparring is not tolerated. Health and longevity of practitioners are major goals of Tang Soo Do practice. Consequently, serious injuries are counterproductive because they retard a level of physical training that is needed to foster emotional and intellectual growth. However, minor injuries, such as bumps, bruises and the occasional loss of breath, may be invaluable experiences. Each match should begin and end with respect, compassion and a deep appreciation for the opponent. Though Tang Soo Do sparring is competitive, competitions are more of an exercise, or way to develop the self, than they are a truly game-like competitive forum. Introspection and personal growth are fostered through this semi-contact competitive forum.
Please refer to our references as we have used a few different sources for the basic explanation of each martial art discipline. Many of our direct links, images and text will be from the site Wikipedia which is not known for the most accurate information when it comes to doing a thesis or studying for ones P.H.D. but does have a large collection of data that is well organized. Much of the text regarding martial arts styles on Wikipedia seems to generally sum up each discipline as good as many other sources. We do not intend to re-invent the wheel, but we do want to roll you in a good direction in order to get a glimps of each style.