Summary: The original Bible of Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do / Soo Bahk Do
Comment: This is the original English language BIG Tang Soo Do Book. Tang Soo Do is one of the terms used to describe the modern Korean fighting art containing elements of Native Korean Taek Kyun (most noticeable in the kicking techniques), and Japanese Karate (evident in stance, punching, and Hyung/forms). Older first print editions of this book have Black dustcovers with the title "Tang Soo Do (Soo Bahk Do)" and a picture of two men, one demonstrating a flying side kick, the other preparing to evade it. Later editions have a dark blue cover with the Moo Duk Kwan logo and the title "Soo Bahk Do (Tang Soo Do)". Both books have the same content.
Author Hwang Kee was the founder of the Moo Duk Kwan school, one of 9 original Kwan or schools of martial art influenced by Japanese Karate and established in Korea during and just after World War II. Hwang's book is still noteable as it was the first volume to reprint entirely the older military empty-hand fighting arts book "Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji". Although Hwang does not offer a complete translation in either this English work or his Korean books, at last people have the opportunity to see one of the sources of inspiration for Korean martial artists who were looking for native sources outside the scope of Japanese martial arts to minimize the shame many felt after the terrible period of oppression Koreans suffered at the hands of Imperial Japan.
The section on history is honest although by our standards dated. Hwang mentions the relation between Okinawan and Japanese Karate, and early Korean Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do. Unlike later leaders authors who endeavored to hide the fact of this relationship by offering up phony revisionist histories, Hwang even credits the Hyung practiced in Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do to their appropriate teachers, at least as far as was known in his age. Readers will find some of the phonetic translations differ in spelling from what we are used to...Okinawa's Itosu is referred to as "Mr. Idos" (pg 20,372), Higasionna is really not that far off from Higashionna (p 20), and Funakoshi is referred to as Humakoshy (20), simple phonetic differences due to the lack of an "f" sound in the Korean dialect.
There are decent sections on Philosophy, History, Practical study (one would be better served to get anything by Martina Sprague to understand physics and martial arts), Application of technique to include Stances, Principles of Basic Movement covering hand and foot techniques, and a section on Forms, or Hyung which includes the 9 basic forms most schools utilize for promotion to Cho-dan (first degree Dark Blue or Black belt) or Cho-dan Bo (candidate for first degree). Forms include the three original basic Ki Cho Hyung Ill-Bu, Ee-Bu & Sam-Bu, and the five intermediate Pyung Ahn forms, Cho-dan, Ee-dan, sam-dan, Sa-dan, and Oh-dan, and also Bassai hyung.
Many of the forms and techniques are demonstrated by Hwang Kee's Son, Hwang Hyun-chul. Later editions of this book have been reprinted by the United States Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation. Also available are a series of four learning books with gup-belt specific material in them, including required self defense and sparring sequences, vocabulary, and hyung (including the newer hyung created by Grandmaster Hwang not covered in this book such as the Chil Sun, Yuk Ro, and Hwa Rang series). USSBDMDKF has also published a worthwhile book discussing the history of Kwan founder Hwang Kee, and a second book on Dan-level hyung.
There are also a number of fair books by other notable Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan practitioners which are similar in structure to this volume. Students of those teachers will undoubtedly be encouraged to purchase their teacher's works. But don't lose sight of the man who started the Moo Duk Kwan in the first place! He is present throughout this book.