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The Origins of our art - Tang Soo Do

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The very first evidence of this ancient form of Korean martial arts appeared during the Three Kingdom era (57 BC-935 AD) as Hwa Rang Do. Since then, 2,000 years have passed. The indigenous martial arts quietly developed through generations of the Korean people.

During some eras it flourished and other times it diminished, according to the political, economic or cultural environment. The art was known by various names throughout the eras as Hwa Rang Do, Moo Sul, Kyuck Too Ki, Soo Bahk Ki, Soo Byuck Ki, Taek Kyun etc. respectively.

Following 1945 Korean independence, the Korean martial arts were again merged and flourished throughout the entire Korean Peninsula. Many organizations were founded with various names such as Soo Bahk Do, Tang Soo Do, Tae Soo Do and so on. At the beginning of the modern era of the Korean martial arts, Tang Soo Do was the most popular term for these arts, however, at that time, the Korean political leader was concerned about establishing Korean value based on Korean nationalism. The political leaders recognized the popularity of Korean martial arts around the world, but were opposed to the use of the name Tang Soo Do for the art, as it sounded like a Chinese martial art, because the first word "Tang" could be interpreted as representing the Chinese Tang Dynasty (617-907 AD). In 1964, a government sponsored small group created a new name for the Korean martial arts: Tae Kwon Do.

The World Tang Soo Do Association still respects the original term, Tang Soo Do, and intends to preserve its heritage and value as a traditional way or path. Unfortunately, many Tae Kwon Do instructors did not maintain the traditional values of the true martial arts. Instead, they converted to a sport as they have progressed to the internationally recognized sports arenas such as the Olympic games.

This was considered to be a great political achievement, to bring strength and prominence to the Korean government in International politics. True Martial Arts lovers had no place within these Tae Kwon Do dojangs to continue to pursue traditional martial arts because they abandoned many valuable aspects of true Martial Arts to become a simple competitive sport. We, as World Tang Soo Do practitioners are striving to maintain traditional values of respect, discipline, self control, self improvement, etiquette and ultimately live a healthy and harmonious life, physically and mentally.


How the elements of the korean flag translate to the art of tang soo do


The meaning of Korean National Flag is very philosophical. The origin comes from the Oriental philosophy called Eum-Yang, in Chinese pronunciation Yin-Yang. In Korea, the symbol of ‘Yin and Yang’, and sometimes the flag itself, is called Taeguk and summarizes the thoughts of ‘I Ching’ (called ‘Yeok’ in Korean). The name means as much as the flag of ‘Great Extremes’.

The flag consists of three parts: The white background, the red and blue circle in the center and four trigrams, one in each corner of the flag.

The white background of the flag means peace.

The red and blue circle in the center is called ‘Taeguk’, the origin of all things in the universe. The central thought is perfect harmony and balance: A continuousl movement within the sphere of infinity, resulting in one unit. The blue part of ‘Taeguk’ is called ‘Eum’ and represents all negative aspects of the balance that is typical for the symbol. The red part is called ‘Yang’ and describes all positive apects.

The four trigrams at the corners (called ‘Kwe’ in Korean) also represent the concept of opposites and balance. The trigrams are heaven (upper-left) and at the other corner earth, water (upper-right) and at the other corner fire. Looking at symbols of the trigrams, you can see that they are opposites as well. Three unbroken bars (heaven) vs. three broken bars (earth), etc.

For the Korean people their flag of T’aeGuk-Ki is a source of pride and inspiration. During the Japanese occupation period beginning in 1910 the Korean flag was outlawed in public places and for about thirty five years the T’aeGuk flags were kept hidden until Liberation Day in1945. The Korean flag has been a symbol of this country’s struggle for independence and freedom.


Origins of the world tang soo do association

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In 1968 Master Jae Chul Shin came to the United States of America as the U. S. representative for the Korean Tang Soo Do Association. He formed the U. S. Tang Soo Do Federation in Burlington, New Jersey in 1968. This traditional Korean Martial Art was quickly accepted and soon grew in popularity throughout the World. The organization reformed to fit new demands internationally, and on November 13 and 14th, 1982, a charter convention of the World Tang Soo Do Association was held in Philadelphia, PA., USA. With the advent of the World Tang Soo Do Association, Tang Soo Do began a new era of development as a traditional martial art.

As of 1996, the new organization has grown at an outstanding rate to reach over 100,000 members in 36 countries and thousands of students are training in the following countries; Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, England, Germany, Greece, Guam, Holland, India, Italy, Korea, Mozambique, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Rumania, Russia, Scotland, Seychelles, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Uruguay and the U.S.A. For the purpose of guidance and regional management, there are 21 regions and the regional directory will be provided in following pages.


Origins of the martial arts academy of tang soo do az


The Martial Arts Academy of Tang Soo Do Arizona is a family-owned and family-focused karate school in Tempe, Arizona, serving the Phoenix East Valley.

We have students of all ages. Our passion is teaching kids important life lessons of responsibility, courage, self-esteem, and self-control through the Korean martial art Tang Soo Do.

Our school is traditional and formal, emphasizing the respect and humility of our art just as much as the physical training. Classes are arranged by age group and by rank, so students are always practicing with their peers.​

Ian and Stephanie Larson opened the Martial Arts Academy of Tang Soo Do Arizona in 2014, under the tutelage of Senior Master Johnny R. Williamson. In 2017 the Larsons secured a commercial location in Chandler, Arizona, where the school has become poised to grow into one of the premier martial arts studios in the East Valley of Phoenix.

Ian and Stephanie first met as teenagers in 2002 and trained together about twice a year at regional events. In 2007 they began teaching together under Masters Robert and Teresa Grissom (Stephanie’s parents) and managed the children’s martial art program at Circle Pines Karate Institute in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.

They began officially dating in 2009 and were married December 30, 2011, promptly moving to Arizona to allow Ian to finish out his graduate school in physical therapy. They now reside in Laveen, Arizona and have two sons, Michael, Matthew, Marcus, and Evelyn.

The Larsons continue to train under Master Williamson of Starworld Martial Arts in Goodyear, Arizona. Ian and Stephanie look at martial arts as a life-long endeavor that has multiple benefits for any person in any stage of life. “Unlike football, soccer, and basketball, martial arts has been there for me through junior high, high school, community college, state college, and graduate school, and will continue to be there through every stage of my life,” Ian says. “It is something that has gotten me through many hard times, and I plan to continue doing Tang Soo Do with my great-grandchildren.”

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