Tang Soo Do is a much older form of martial arts, having its roots deep in Korea as the traditional martial art form for the country. Therefore, it’s lineage and creation is not as easily traceable as one of the more well known and recent forms of martial arts. Some say that the “founder” of the martial art form Tang Soo Do is a man by the name of Won Kuk Lee (also known as the founder of Chung Do Kwan, a similar martial art form), however, others argue that Won Kuk Lee only coined the name Tang Soo Do and did not create the martial art form himself.
There is, however, a particular style that does have traceable lineage, the style known as Moo Duk Kwan. Just about every modern teacher of Tang Soo Do can trace the roots of their styles back to the Moo Duk Kwan style, therefore the history of this form can be considered the general history of all other forms of Tang Soo Do, since there is no formal lineage to be traced for the other forms.
It was the Grandmaster Hwang Kee that created the Moo Duk Kwan style, and he learned martial arts (a Chinese style) while in Manchuria. Hwang Kee also claimed to have been influenced by several other factors, such as Japanese martial arts and books during his inception of the Moo Duk Kwan style. Not surprisingly, several other experts disagree with these claims, so there really are very few conclusions to be drawn from the murky history of Tang Soo Do.
The development of Tang Soo Do, however, is a different story entirely. We do know that between the years 1910 and 1945 (when the Japanese had major control over the country of Korea), many Koreans bore witness to different forms of martial arts (such as the Japanese versions of many Chinese martial arts). It was during this time that traditional Korean martial arts got mixed in with Japanese and Chinese martial arts (such as Karate) and several new forms of martial arts were born.
Modern Tang Soo Do has done its best to remove itself from its origins in Moo Duk Kwan and it was because of this move that it has begun to gain popularity in today’s modern society. There are several schools in the United States, and although there are not as many schools as other forms of martial arts, the number continues to grow as the demand for Tang Soo Do in the Western world increases. It is known that it does have some relation to Taekwondo, however, its exact ties are not very clear. Tang Soo Do is a more gentle, peaceful form of martial arts as compared to Taekwondo and this may be the reason for its increasing demand along with art forms such as Tai Chi and Yoga in the New Age societies.