The Five Moo Do Values

Moo Duk Kwan ®

The history of the Moo Duk Kwan®

is as unique as the art itself. Founded in Korea in 1945 by Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee, Moo Duk Kwan literally means "institute of martial virtue."

Creating the art was not a simple process; it would be many years between our Founder’s first exposure to martial arts and the actual birth of the Moo Duk Kwan. In 1921, around age seven, Kwan Jang Nim Kee first witnessed the execution of a martial art. While attending the national May festival, he encountered a group of seven or eight men fighting one man, who successfully managed to evade and defeat his attackers. Impressed by the man’s performance, he followed him home and after observing his training over a period of time, asked to be taught the techniques he witnessed. The man refused because of his young age. However, this did not end the Kwan Jang Nim’s interest, he continued to observe the man training from afar, and imitated what he saw.

After graduating high school in 1935, the Kwan Jang Nim began work for the railroad in Manchuria. The next year, he was introduced to a Chinese master, Master Yang. At that point, our Founder was strictly self-taught, and hoped this introduction would provide an opening for formal training. The Kwan Jang Nim asked to become Master Yang's student, and after persisting in his request, was granted permission to train under him. A year later, he returned to Korea, and hoped to have the opportunity to continue training and possibly teach. Unfortunately, the country was occupied by the Japanese, and he was not allowed to pursue his interest in the martial arts. In 1939, he began work for the Cho Sun Railway Bureau. This position allowed him access to a library where he began reading about philosophy and Okinawan Karate. For the next several years he traveled and studied developing his maturity as a martial artist.

At the conclusion of World War II, his dream of dedicating himself solely to martial arts was realized when he created the Moo Duk Kwan on Nov. 9, 1945. The Moo Duk Kwan is one of five original key styles of martial arts in Korea. The Kwan Jang Nim first named his martial art Hwa Soo Do, art of the flower hand. He attracted and lost several classes of students within the first year due to lack of public recognition. In 1947, he reevaluated the future of the Moo Duk Kwan after realizing the strength of Japanese influence on Korean culture. He decided to integrate the art of Tang Soo Do into the Hwa Soo Do discipline as it was a recognizable term to the general public. Before the beginning of the Korean War in 1950, the first four Dan students were recognized. This was the beginning of the Dan Bon system which is unique to Moo Duk Kwan practitioners. Although the Korean War caused many difficulties, the art endured and strengthened, allowing the Kwan Jang Nim to continue his scientific development of a unique system of techniques emphasizing use of the hip

In 1957, the Kwan Jang Nim made a significant discovery--a book, titled, Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji. This volume discussed “Soo Bahk,” a truly Korean martial art. As a result of this discovery, he diligently devoted himself to studying this manual. Through his efforts, Soo Bahk was reborn, and the Kwan Jang Nim developed the Soo Bahk system to be studied through the Moo Duk Kwan as a living art, connecting practitioners with a long and proud heritage. He chose the name Soo Bahk Do, a derivative of Soo Bahk Ki, hand striking technique, and Soo Bahk Hee, hand striking dance, which were detailed in the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji. Do was chosen based on his belief that Soo Bahk should teach the Moo Do philosophy of stopping inner and outer conflict

In 1960, the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association was incorporated and officially registered with the Korean government as the traditional Korean martial art. The following year, the Moo Duk Kwan discipline was recognized internationally for the first time. This was a golden time for the Moo Duk Kwan, for it was receiving respect and recognition from the general public nationally, and was making significant progress toward the Kwan Jang Nim's goal of improving human relationships through the martial arts at an international level.

The Moo Duk Kwan in Korea published 8 consecutive newsletters form September, 1960 - April 1961. The newsletters indicate the strength and organization of the Moo Duk Kwan just prior to the military Coup.

Unfortunately, Korea soon after suffered a political crisis, which stalled the growth of the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association, Moo Duk Kwan, and marked the beginning of a 30-year period of difficulty for the organization. Around 1964, an attempt was made toward unification of the Moo Duk Kwan, then the largest organization of any martial art system in Korea, and Tae Kwon Do. Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee decided against unification when he realized the criteria was unfair to the Moo Duk Kwan, and basically a political move to absorb the art into Tae Kwon Do. After the failed attempt, political pressures were exerted on the organization and the art suffered. Although it was recognized by the government, Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan certification was not publicly accepted for employment reference purposes. Instructors had a difficult time processing their passports when they needed to travel abroad to teach the art, and the Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan was prohibited from attending any international events. Soon after, the government issued a countermand order for the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association. The Kwan Jang Nim took this case to the Supreme Court in 1966 and won, thus insuring the future of the organization.

Political pressures continued until 1979, making it difficult for the Kwan Jang Nim to travel outside of Korea. However, he continued to promote the art tirelessly. Amazingly, even during this period of adversity, Moo Duk Kwan branches were established in the United States, Greece, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Malaysia, Brunei and Australia

In 1982, Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee officially introduced Soo Bahk Do at the International Championship through demonstration of the “Hwa Sun” Hyung from the Moo Ye Do Bo Tong Ji. In the following years, he continued to introduce what he learned from that volume to practitioners through demonstrations, clinics and publications.  Until his death in 2002, Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee faithfully promoted the art he created, and witnessed its staggering growth. He established goals and guidelines for the organization, thus insuring its future development and success. This included a clear plan for his succession. Now, as Founder Hwang Kee wished, Kwan Jang Nim H.C. Hwang has taken up his responsibilities, promoting his vision for the art to more than 200,000 practitioners worldwide.

Soo Bahk Do ®

Soo Bahk Do® is a traditional Korean martial art, which dates back hundreds of years. It embodies the Five Moo Do values, teaching discipline and respect, history, tradition and philosophy, as well as martial art techniques. It is used for both exercise and self-defense: to strengthen the body and the mind; improve physical flexibility and endurance; promote mental and physical health; and increase longevity.

During the Yi Dynasty (1392-1907) Korea's martial arts were compiled into a martial arts text called the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji (Moo Yeh Doe Bo Tong Jee).

In 1790, Master Lee Duk Moo appeared before King Jung Jo and was ordered to compile Korea's martial arts techniques that were popular at that time into a book called the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji and is the oldest and most valuable historical documentation of the Korean martial arts. Master Lee Duk Moo referenced many sources all of which are listed in the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji's contents. Most of the sources were either Korean, Chinese or Japanese. It was written in four parts or books. Book one was written about the spear (Chang), their various types and techniques. Book two dealt with the sword (Kum). Book three covered long blades and sword strategies and Book four is about empty hand combat (Kwon Bup).

The Kwon Bup section of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji catalogs the most effective techniques that were popular during the Yi Dynasty (1392-1907 A.D.). The Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji was a culmination of several earlier texts and scrolls from various styles of martial arts. In 1957, Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Grandmaster Hwang Kee began his intense study of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji. Quote "It was was a truly remarkable moment for me since my entire life, from childhood, has been dedicated to the martial arts. I went to the library every day and studied this book. I was eager to translate the book and share this valuable information about Korean martial arts with everyone who studies martial arts. But this wonderful discovery also brought with it some difficulties. To understand and translate the book, one must require a deep knowledge of the Sip Sam Seh (philosophy of martial arts tactics and postures) as well as a knowledge of the correct martial arts terms for the Chinese characters."

As he began his translation of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji, the responsibility of keeping the translation as pure as possible weighed foremost in his mind. After much time and work, Grandmaster Hwang Kee has translated the Kwon Bup section of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji. He is the first person to do so. Grandmaster Hwang Kee has translated the Kwon Bup section of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji into a series of 17 patterns (called Hyung in Korean). The first six are called Yuk Ro (six paths) pronounced Yoong Ro. The next pattern is Hwa Sun, followed by the ten Sip Dan Khum patterns. It is important to understand that there is more involved here than mere translation.

The Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji was written in Chinese, since at the time in which it was written, most of the important texts and all of the religious texts were written in Chinese due to the popularity of Confucianism throughout the Orient. What makes translating ancient Chinese difficult, is that each character has several meanings. In addition to the linguistic difficulties, there is the challenge of putting the translated material into a practical and organized format. That's why it was natural for Grandmaster Hwang to organize the information into patterns (Hyungs).

What makes the Yuk Ro, Hwa Sun and Sip Dan Khum unique?

As was stated before, the various martial arts developed and adapted to the practitioner's environment, lifestyle and various needs and conditions. Most styles fall into two categories. One type is Neh Ga Ryu - (inside house style) characterized by close defensive fighting. The other type is Weh Ga Ryu - (outside house style) characterized by spontaneous, quick, offensive oriented fighting. Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan is Korea's traditional martial art and is Joong Gan Ryu (middle way style) using both Neh Ga Ryu and Weh Ga Ryu. This is because the geographical conditions of Korea demands an understanding of both Neh Ga Ryu and Weh Ga Ryu.

Joong Gan Ryu (middle way style) utilizes hard/soft, light/heavy, active/passive type movements. The softer/heavier movements are similar to the Northern Chinese styles, whereas the lighter/active movements are similar to the Southern Chinese styles. All of these factors make Soo Bahk Do a very versatile, challenging martial art.

This versatility and challenge is apparent in the body of forms (Won Hyung) required in the Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation. The Yuk Ro forms are indigenous to Korea and the speed, timing and sudden distance changes make these forms very unique.

One must remember that the techniques and forms recorded in the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji were used to train the Kings Army. The techniques themselves build discipline, strength etc. but the morality and philosophical development comes from the Moo Duk Kwan. Moo Duk Kwan means "Martial Virtue School". The philosophy of the Moo Duk Kwan combined with the technical challenges of Soo Bahk Do creates a holistic way of training the mind and the body, enveloping every aspect of oneself, in order to create a more mature person who integrates all the potential of the mind, body, and spirit in order to free themselves from inner and outer conflict. This integration enables the practitioner to deal with the outside world in a mature, intelligent, forthright and virtuous manner. There are three area's in Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan which are vital to the development of these qualities. Everything in Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan uses one or more of these areas.

These areas are Neh Gong, Weh Gong and Shim Gong.

Neh Gong (Internal achievement) deals with one's internal health and energy.

Weh Gong (External achievement) deals with one's external health, muscles, tendons. etc.

Shim Gong (Spiritual achievement) deals with one's mental, spiritual health and well being.

The integration of these three area's through the mental and physical challenges of the Yuk Ro forms, Soo Bahk Do training, and the Moo Duk Kwan's philosophy guide the practitioner towards a oneness with their environment whether it's physical, spiritual or social thereby creating a more peaceful practitioner, environment and hopefully a more peaceful world.

When Master Lee Duk Moo compiled the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji he probably did not ponder the world wide effect it would have let alone its use toward human betterment in our present time, but Korea's ancient martial arts text has stood the test of time and has survived antiquity to remind us of our heritage to the ancient warriors of Korea and their efforts and sacrifices to pass onto us the value of Soo Bahk Do the traditional martial art of Korea.


Tang Soo Do

Tang Soo Do started with the early Korean fighting arts, which paintings and murals tell us were utilized during the time of the three kingdoms in Korea. Eventually, these kingdoms were united under the Silla Dynasty, where evidence of the fighting arts in Korea became even greater. From the evidence, it appears that the arts continued to progress and be practiced, usually taught within families or passed down from one individual to another, until the Japanese took control of Korea between 1909 to 1945. Looking to quell any opposition to their occupation before it started, the Japanese forbade Koreans from practicing martial arts. Some history was lost as a result.

That said, the arts were still practiced secretly, and were influenced by the rare Japanese karate practitioner willing to share his knowledge during the period. Eventually, when the Japanese domination was lifted, martial arts schools began to pop up across Korea, the first of which was the Chung Do Kwan, whose founder was Won Kuk Lee. Lee is regarded to be the first to use the term Tang Soo Do to describe what had become the Korean fighting art that had been influenced by so many other styles. The term "Tang Soo Do / Dang Soo Do" was initially a Korean pronunciation of "The Way of the Chinese Hand." These days most Americans translate it as, "The Way of the Open Hand."

Beyond Won Kuk Lee, several other practitioners formed kwans in the area, to the point that by the 1960s there were nine major kwans based from an original five, called the Moo Duk Kwan (leader: Hwang Kee), Yeon Moo Kwan (Lee, Nam Suk), YMCA Kwon Bup Bu (Lee, Nam Suk), Chung Do Kwan (Shon, Duk Song), and Song Moo Kwan (No, Byong Jik). It is at this time that the country attempted to unify all of its arts under one name: Tae Kwon Do. All but one of these schools basically incorporated in theory—even if they continued to teach their separate curriculum without much change—and that school was the Moo Duk Kwan. Founder Hwang Kee stayed the course and refused to merge despite political pressures after realizing/believing that the move was designed to basically overrun his style and organization. Though this decision cost him some members to the Tae Kwon Do movement, in 1965 and 1966 Kee won legal battles that allowed him to run his organization and begin to rebuild from Tae Kwon Do's power play.

Therefore, Kee and his followers continued to follow a purer form of Tang Soo Do. In the late 1950s, he changed the name of his organization to Korean Soo Bahk Do Association, Moo Duk Kwan.

Today, Tang Soo Do continues to flourish under numerous federations and organizations. There is no large umbrella organization regulating its practice.

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5 Moo Do Values

  1. History defines us. We understand who we are by knowing our history (past). This knowledge helps guide our actions with an awareness of our foundation, our history, our past, and helps us understand where we are in the present as we create our future....
    Our history (Past) is the guiding source for our future life. We can create our future by honoring our History (past). The experiences of our elders, seniors and instructors are part of our past, so we honor (respect) them because they created the foundation upon which our present has been built and their experiences serve as a guiding source for creating our future. We can benefit from listening, valuing, and respecting their teachings and the wisdom they share with us about their experiences.
  2. Tradition is that which is inherited, established, or transmitted and passed on as a customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior; the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs…” (lbid). This is the process by which the essence of Soo Bahk Do® Moo Duk Kwan® is maintained. There are traditional means of conduct and beliefs which were handed down since the inception of the Moo Duk Kwan®. Some originated even before the Moo Duk Kwan®. These traditions began at some point in history. The tradition of bowing is a show of respect and/or appreciation
  3. Discipline / Respect are the foundation of the Human relations. Discipline will strengthen your professional conduct. Respect will strengthen your kindness. Discipline alone may bring the hard side which makes others uncomfortable. Respect alone may bring the soft side which makes others overly comfortable. These factors alone will bring a negative influence on human relations. Discipline and respect should coexist with each other to gain their full benefit for human relations. Furthermore, they should be strengthened by the other four Moo Do values in order to fulfill their meaning.
  4. Philosophy is a set of ideas or beliefs relating to a particular field or activity; an underlying theory, a system of values by which one lives; the most general beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group…”(lbid). Our philosophy guides our intent (Shim Gong) toward the good. Our philosophy includes the 8 Key concepts, the 10 articles of faith on mental training, and many other ideas and values. Our active study of these tools and our application of them as a Moo Duk Kwan practitioner strengthens our life and demonstrates the philosophy we live by.
  5. Technique is the manner in which technical details are treated or (as basic physical movements) are used…”(lbid) Techniques are very visible elements of Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan. We gain the benefits of flexibility, self defense skills, and health as we train to improve our techniques. Techniques from Ki Chos, Hyungs, and Dae Ryun are excellent tools for connecting with the other four Moo Do Values, History, Tradition, Philosophy, and Discipline/Respect. From this connection we benefit by strengthening our techniques.


10 Articles of Faith

  1. Be loyal to your country
  2. Be obedient to your parents
  3. Be loving between husband and wife
  4. Be cooperative between brothers and sisters
  5. Be respectful to your elders
  6. Be faithful to your teacher
  7. Be faithful to your friends
  8. Face conflict with justice and honor
  9. Never retreat in battle
  10. Always finish what you start


8 Key Concepts

  1. Courage (Yong Gi)
  2. Concentration (Chung Shin Tong Il)
  3. Endurance (In Neh)
  4. Honesty (Chung Jik)
  5. Humility (Kyum Son)
  6. Control of power (Him Cho Chung)
  7. Tension and relaxation (Shin Chook)
  8. Speed control (Wan Gup)

Moo Do DoJang

The success of the DoJang is dependent upon how well the instructor conveys the 5 Moo Do Values to his students, family, and the local community. As a certified instructor, he must be motivated to serve as a role model and edify the positive Moo Do experiences that have created his Moo Do identity. His identity as a Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan instructor has been built from the Moo Do values. It is appropriate and proper that he emphasize and apply these values in his daily life and curriculum of instruction.

The ultimate goal of the Moo Duk Kwan school is building in its practitioners mental and physical strength, and the ability to deal with both inner and outer conflict with forthrightness and virtue.

The art we practice is Soo Bahk Do, the style is Moo Duk Kwan.

Moo = Stop conflict or to want peace,

Duk = Virtue

Kwan = School

The Moo Duk Kwan philosophy draws from Confucianism, Taoism and the code of conduct taught to the Hwa Rang (Korean Knights).

The Moo Duk Kwan philosophy is one based on action: in the Moo Duk Kwan action leads to understanding theory. We believe like Confucius said "Action speaks louder than words," so there are strict guidelines and traditional protocols in the Moo Duk Kwan style.


Characteristics of Tang Soo Do

Tang Soo Do could be described as a Korean version of karate. It is a striking style of martial arts in that practitioners utilize hand strikes, kicks, and blocks to defend themselves. In addition, jiu-jitsu or aikido style wrist grabs are also practiced (known as self-defense moves). Tang Soo Do is a style that emphasizes breathing in its forms and practice, no contact or light contact sparring, and the building of character within its participants. It is not enough for a Tang Soo Do practitioner to learn the various physical moves within the art. In addition, they must learn about the style's history and demonstrate respect for this and other people.

Tang Soo Do is known for its kicking artistry.

The Styles That Contributed to Tang Soo Do

Moo Duk Kwan founder Hwang Kee is the person whom the majority of Tang Soo Do practitioners trace their lineage to. Throughout his life, sometimes on his own due to circumstances, Kee studied Tae Kyon (indigenous and ancient Korean fighting art), Okinawan karate styles including Shotokan, and Chinese martial arts styles like tai chi and kung fu. It is from these styles that Tang Soo Do was born.

Won Kuk Lee, another talented martial artist who influenced the art, also infused a significant amount of Shotokan into his teachings.

Basic Goals of Tang Soo Do

From a physical perspective, the Tang Soo Do practitioner would seek to stop an attacker with strikes as quickly as possible to prevent harm. That said, the philosophy behind Tang Soo Do is, like many other martial arts styles, one of peaceful confidence.

Tang Soo Do Training

Training in Tang Soo Do consists of forms or hyeongs, one step sparring (pre-ordained), free sparring (no contact or usually light contact), line work (executing the various kicks, punches, and blocks in a line), and self-defense moves (wrist grabs, etc.).

Famous Tang Soo Do Practitioners

  • Billy Blanks: Blanks is the man behind the famous Tae Bo series of videos, which are some of the most well-known cardio kickboxing products on the market. He started his martial arts training with Tang Soo Do.
  • Hwang Kee: Kee was the founder of the Moo Duk Kwan Soo Bahk Do (Tang Soo Do) organization. Most Tang Soo Do schools trace their lineage to him.
  • Chuck Norris: Norris, one of the most famous martial arts movie actors of all-time, began training in Tang Soo Do after joining the Air Force as an Air Policeman in 1958. He eventually achieved black belt status in the art.

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