The art of Soo Bahk Do involves the development of the mind and the body. There are three areas of development that we focus on in our training: Neh Gung (Internal Energy), Weh Gung (External Energy) and Shim Gung (Mental/Spiritual Energy). Neh Gung can be considered our breath during our technique, Weh Gung is our body’s action (use of hip) and Shim Gung is our attitude; our discipline (Moo Do). Our Founder, Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee, introduced a systematic and scientific method of training to enable us to realize our full potential. Through this system, each area builds on the next and is progressively more involved. Our art consists of the following training areas:
- Ki Cho (Basic Motions)
- Hyung (Forms)
- Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun (One Step Sparring)
- Ho Sin Sool (Self-Defense)
- Ja Yu Dae Ryun (Free Sparring)
- Kyok Pa (Breaking)
- Moo Pahl Dan Khum (Breathing/Energy Exercises)
There are many factors that make our Moo Duk Kwan style very unique under our Founder, Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee. One factor is our unique way to emphasize the use of hip (Hu Ri). The use of hip is extremely important in helping you to understand coordination of speed, power and balance. Proper use of hip will help you achieve higher levels in your training and in other physical activities that you may become involved with in the future.
To understand this unique aspect the first step in our training is to break down this application and apply its philosophy in basic hand (Blocking/Punching) and foot techniques (Kicking). As a result the use of hip is broken down into defense and offensive hip. The techniques used are taken from our Hyung (Forms). This basic process will aid in our understanding of the techniques that are later applied in more difficult situations. Ki Cho is the foundation of the techniques in Soo Bahk Do.
Ancient people had a deep interest in the development of forms as well as a profound understanding of them. Below is a quote from the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji, which is the oldest documentation of Korean Martial Arts (300 Years), the author is unknown:
"Performing with hands and feet and conditioning the body is the beginning of the study of the art of Tang Soo Do (Soo Bahk Do). In actual combat, form does not seem in an obvious way to be a necessary part of the martial arts. However practicing forms perfects the ability to perform hand and foot techniques freely. This is fundamental to making the best use of one's body at all times."
Basic to all martial arts is this: After the basic movements are learned they are applied to and transformed into forms. As established, traditional and clearly defined sets of steps, jumps, blocks, kicks and punches, each of the forms in our art has a unity and purposed. The elements which make up the character or personality of a form are as follows:
- Form Sequence
- Power Control
- Tension and Relaxation
- Speed and Rhythm Control
- Direction of Movements
- Spirit or Attitude
- Power of Technique
- Understanding Form Technique
- Distinctive Features of the Form
- Perfect Finish
- Precision of Movements
These twelve elements may be used as a basis for evaluating a form and for the study of its improved performance. For additional information on selected Hyung please click here.
The Hyung of Soo Bahk Do were influenced by Ryu, or styles. One style is Weh Ga Ryu(Outside/External House Style). Weh Ga Ryu came from Southern Chinese Schools emphasizing speed, aggressiveness and dynamic action. Examples of the Weh Ga Ryu style are the Gi Cho Hyung, Pyung Ahn Hyung, and Passai. Another Ryu is Neh Ga Ryu (Inside/Internal House Style). Neh Ga Ryu came from Northern Chinese Schools emphasizing more deliberate technique, stability and fluid motion. Most of our advanced Hyung come from the Neh Ga Ryu, such as Nai Han Ji. The last Ryu is the Joong Gan Ryu (Middle Way Style) This Ryu was a Korean influence due to the fact that they had to be versatile because of the threat of living between China and Japan. The traditional Soo Bahk Hyung like the Yuk Ro Hyung and Chil Sung Hyung come from this style.
The types of moves in a Hyung are important to the character also. These techniques often represent something from nature. By symbolizing an animal in our Hyung we show a respect for nature, as we should for all life.
Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun is pre-planned sparring with a partner that helps develop balance, focus and distance control. Through this area of training you will develop many effective combinations before being introduced to Free Sparring. When you begin Free Sparring, it will be easier for you to perform the techniques required. Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun is performed in a formal manner with a proper start, execution of the technique and a proper finish. It involves the following ceremony:
- Bow to your partner from the attention position
- Jhoon Bee (Ready Stance) together
- Measure distance
- Junior side challenges with Ha Dan Mahk Kee (Low Block) and proper Ki Hap
- Senior side response with Ki Hap
- Junior side performs Sang Dan Kong Kyuk (High Punch)
- Senior side defends attack performing Il Soo Sik exercise
- Both sides Ba Ro (Return to Ready Stance) together upon completion
Bowing to our partner is Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan (Sang Ho Kan E Kyung Ret) is of the utmost importance as it shows the Respect and Discipline that comprise one of our 5 Moo Do Values. Our training involves potentially dangerous techniques and without respect and discipline the techniques may be used in a negative manner. The physical action of bowing shows the constant mental awareness and concentration required, as well as respect towards yourself, your partner and towards the art.
Ho Sin Sool has been taught in Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan classes since the Founder established the Moo Duk Kwan in 1945. Ho Shin Sool can be translated as follows:
- Ho: Protection, Defense
- Sin: One’s own body (Yourself)
- Sool: Technique
Ho Sin Sool begins with awareness of your surroundings, circumstances and potential threatening situations. With proper awareness a conflict should be prevented long before a physical confrontation takes place. Typically, the defender is grabbed and pulled in a variety of ways as a result; the defender needs to work in close quarters to escape the attack (grab or various weapons). The purpose of Ho Sin Sool is to subdue attackers (redirect aggressive force) using minimal physical power that could be much larger/stronger than you. "You can face danger with courage, but you need to have techniques to defend yourself."
Ho Sin Sool should use the energy of your partner against them. In most situations, when your attacker pushes, you pull away and if they pull, you push. The defender should understand the importance of striking quickly while maintaining the highest level of Shim Gung (Mental Energy). When put into submission the attacker should maintain shi sun (eyesight), good posture and move with the flow of energy for an overall harmonious demonstration.
Ja Yu Dae Ryun is designed to simulate real life-threatening combat. As a result this area is a great test of skill, as it demands not only mastery of individual techniques, but the ability to react and strategize skillfully against an aggressive attacker. Tactical knowledge of applications, as well as sensitivity towards the slightest change from full to empty in oneself and the attacker are of paramount importance. Ja Yu Dae Ryun may be practiced with a single partner, multiple partners, an attacker with a weapon or multiple armed attackers.
Kyok Pa is used primarily as a demonstration and test of striking and penetrating power. Wood, bricks, cement or tiles may be broken in Kyok Pa, which is exhibited most often in formal testing. The simplicity of breaking makes it a popular choice for public demonstrations, as it conveys an aspect of technical pragmatism to an audience without any martial knowledge or experience. Any striking technique may be used for Kyok Pa, though generally the more sophisticated the technique, the more challenging the break.
Daily fitness exercises are part of the Asian culture, with hundreds or thousands of variations. These exercises called “Ki Gung” (Energy Cultivation) in Korean and “Chi Gung” in Chinese, fall into two major categories: Martial exercises which build health and increase ones power for self defense, and Scholarly exercises which are designed specifically for health. These exercises gently work the bones, ligaments, and muscles, as well as the internal organs, circulatory, immune, lymphatic and energy systems. The Moo Pahl Dan Khum are a set deep breathing exercises that mean the following:
- Moo: Military
- Pahl: Eight
- Dan: Level
- Khum: Of Value (Silk)
Moo Pahl Dan Khum and Moon Pahl Dan Khum are one such set of very old exercises developed to maintain health both internally and externally. They were originally based on an even older set of exercises called the Ship E Dan Khum (12 exercises). The Ship E Dan Khum were adapted by Marshal Yei, a famous Chinese military General, for his troops. They were divided into two sets, the Moo (Military) set of exercises and the Moon (Scholarly) set of exercises. The Moo Pahl Dan Khum consists of 8 standing exercises and the Moon Pahl Dan Khum consists of 8 sitting exercises.
Our Founder, Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee added the Moo Pahl Dan Khum exercises to Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan's curriculum because he believed martial arts should be learned not only for self-defense, but also for the mental, physical and spiritual development.
* Source: Russ Hanke's Soo Bahk Do College http://www.rhsbdc.com/Curriculum.html