Tang Soo Do

Tang Soo Do is a traditional Korean martial arts. Translating the word "Tang Soo Do" is difficult. The word "Soo" means "hand"; the word "Do" means way; however, the word "Tang" has many meanings, such as "Worthiness", "Skillful", and "Strong". Since the hanja used for Tang Soo Do is the same as the symbols used in Japan for Karate-Do, it directly translates as "Way of the empty hand (Karate)" or "Way of the Tang (Dynasty) hand". One reason for the difficulty in direct translation is the historical-cultural meanings associated with the Tang Dynasty.

Students will learn the techniques of fighting with the body’s natural weapons. The ultimate aim of the art of karate lies neither in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants. We will promote self growth in the individual by teaching traditional values of self discipline, respect, confidence, focus, control and perseverance that will carry over into daily life.

Then and Now

Although as accurate history of karate is not available, most experts agree it originated in Mainland China over two thousand years ago in Buddhist monasteries. Organized disciplined exercises and routines were designed and practiced by these early monks to enhance spiritual development to promote mental awareness and to provide a defense against local bandits.

Around the same time other Asian countries developed their own method of combat. Depending on cultural preference and geography the emphasis of these martial art techniques varied. Either leg or hand techniques, soft or hard strikes were stressed. The Korean style, originally known as Tae Kyun is noted for devastating kicks and a unique blend of soft flowing movement and hard powerful strikes. During festivals tae Kyun contestants would tie their hands behind their backs to fight with their legs only. It is said that Korean warriors would use flying kicks to knock attacking soldiers from their horses. During this period, techniques were handed down from master to pupil in a more secretive manner.

However it was only in the late 19th century that a truly conscious effort emerged throughout Asia to organize and advance the study of karate techniques and training methods. Due to interactions with neighboring countries the distinction between styles lessoned. Although sometimes this outside influence was actively sought often to foreign interference was imposed. For example, when Japan annexed Korea in 1911 many Korean martial artists were forbidden to practice their native martial art. If they were allowed to practice at all, it had to be the Japanese style, emphasis on hard rigid techniques; hand rather then leg combat; and disciplined marching during training.

Some martial artists rebelled against then loss of their native style and either went underground or fled to china. One such martial artist was Hwang Kee who remained in china for nine years. During his exile Hwang Kee adopted many of the Chinese soft circular moves to his own Korean style, which he brought back to Korea at the end of World War II. Seeking to unite Korean martial artists he founded the popular Moo Duk Kwon Organization (Martial Virtue Center), which provided the origin for Tang Soo Do. During the early 1950s, the Korean government sought to to unite the three largest and most influential organizations, Moo Duk Kwon, Chi Do Kwon and Chun Do Kwon into one entity: Tae Kwon Do. Hwang Kee kept the Moo Do Kwon (Tang Soo Do) style separate for political and philosophical reasons. Some within Moo Do Kwon followed him, others merged with Tae Kwon Do. Thus some elements of Tae Kwon Do can be very similar to Tang Soo Do depending on whether they originated from Moo Duk Kwon or a different style.

As then and now new influence and preference as to style and approach are in the hands of the head instructor. Our head instructor and founder of the American Karate Jujitsu System, master Instructor Ron Jones combines a wide range of martial arts in his teaching of Tang Soo Do. Having mastered the core style from the late Master Denis James, Master Charles Irwin and Master Jae Chul Shin, a former student of Grand Master Hwang Kee, master Jones also trained with American artists who emphasized sparring and street fighting. His training along with Master Jones interest in Jujitsu, Grappling and Thai Boxing has determined the method, philosophy and approach used today by Mercer Academy of Martial Arts. Master Jones is known for his innovation and for his ability to incorporate practical techniques necessary for self-defense with the disciplined traditional teaching necessary for students’ spiritual growth.

We feel that this blend of the practical and the traditional makes the American Karate Jujitsu System and its followers well informed, highly educated members of the ever changing martial arts community.

“The kicks and punches we learn as a Martial Artist are the tools of our trade. The feeling and awareness gotten through their proper use is our goal.”

Master Instructor
Ron Jones