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Introduction

A proper understanding of the basics of Tang Soo Do is necessary to further understand both the mental and physical principles of the art. Physically, it is very important that you know the proper technique in basic movements. Without a proper understanding of the basics, it is impossible to develop the power which could have been achieved otherwise.

Just as in any other sport or art, there is a proper way to achieve the best performance. The basics in Tang Soo Do are designed to teach you to block and strike utilizing your body scientifically to this end. Your basics are your foundation. If you develop your basics well, you then have something to build on.

No matter how high the forms you may learn, they will be no better than your basics, because form is compiled of basics and variations of them.

At first, looking at a class in Tang Soo Do, you might think of its physical benefits. In watching somebody perform the art well, you can witness things almost unbelievable. Speed, striking power, balance, flexibility, the ability to jump, and the grace of movement; these are all acquired skills.

More important than this is the mental attitude and development. As a person develops physically in the art, he should also develop a mental spirit. Training with pride as men of the martial art, we will adopt the principle of Soo Bahk Do.

Physically, we must confine our training to the gym or home. We can only use this for our physical well-being, or in extreme cases, for our self-protection. This is why we cannot teach this art to a bad person.

Everybody in life must learn to live and work with his fellow man. In striving to become a better person and to develop a proper attitude and confidence in a day-to-day life we should first develop a healthy body. Then strive for a love of the art, respect for one’s teacher, our parents, our friends, and others.

You will find confidence, courage, patience, and physical well-being from training in this art. You will achieve everything depending on your patience and effort in learning. It is a very rewarding experience; something you can do for years to come.

Master Instructor, Dale Drouillard

Class Format

Every class is a little bit different but follows the same general format. Some or all of the following elements are usually integrated into a typical class:

  • Warm-up
  • Basic motions
  • Light stretching
  • Drills (with or without partner)
  • Forms
  • One-step sparring
  • Sparring (no contact to head, knees or groin allowed – experienced students only)
  • Basic self-defense
  • Korean vocabulary

Student Code of Conduct

Members shall follow these principles of Tang Soo Do:

  • Tang Soo Do is a classical martial art and not a sport. It is designed to foster physical, mental, and spiritual health.
  • As a classical martial art, Tang Soo Do aims to develop and express the individual’s true self.
  • As its major focus is interior development, competition by groups or individuals is of minor usefulness in realizing individual potential.
  • Every student of Tang Soo Do must do his utmost to retain the purity of this art.
  • Every member should:
    • seek truth
    • work at developing his highest moral character
    • strive for humility
    • love his country
    • sacrifice himself for justice
    • contribute, by example, to the acceptance of Tang Soo Do as the most genuine of the martial arts
    • develop his endurance
    • value confidence and peace of mind
  • Members shall conduct themselves at all times as an example of the art.
  • Students’ conduct outside of class is as important as conduct during class.

General Rules for Class

Upon entering the Do Jang

Students either in Do Balk or in street clothes shall salute the flag and bow to the instructor on the floor as soon as they enter the Do Jang. This will be done without exception. Students do not have to wait for the instructor to acknowledge the bow if the instructor is busy.

Starting class

Students will line up according to rank and seniority. The highest ranking member present will be on the right. The instructor will take a position in the front center of the class.

The highest ranking member in the class will call the commands:

  • Turn to salute the flags
  • Turn to bow to the instructor(s)
  • Sit
  • Meditation

During class

Proper respect and discipline shall be maintained at all times, and Tang Soo Do ritual should be followed in a uniform manner.

When an instructor enters the Do Jang, the highest ranking member on the floor should call the class to attention and have the class bow. After respect has been paid, the class should return immediately to training.

When a student comes to class late, he should wait until he is recognized by the instructor, then approach him, bow, and get permission to join the class.

When a student must leave the Do Jang during training, he should first receive permission for the instructor.

If a student has to ask the instructor anything, he must first approach a senior member to gain permission. A chain of command should be instituted and not breached for any reason. A member should never approach an instructor directly.

There should be an absence of unnecessary noise in the Do Jang. Students should remain silent, especially during forms and free fighting.

Students seated on the sidelines should remain still so as to not disturb those on the floor.

Dismissing class

Students will line up according to rank and seniority. The highest ranking member present will be on the right. The instructor will take a position in the front center of the class.

The highest ranking member in the class will call the commands:

  • Turn to salute the flags
  • Turn to bow to the instructor(s)
  • Sit
  • Meditation

Salutation

Importance should be attached to salutation. It is an integral part of Tang Soo Do. While training, one should esteem and pay respect to one’s instructor, senior members, and opponents. One should not lose prudence, self-control, or patience. Before and after exercises or contests, the participants should turn around, adjust their Do Balks, and make a correct salutation to their opponent or instructor.

Saluting the flags is done by first facing the flags, then placing your right hand over your heart and finally with sweeping motion move the hand away from your body toward the flags.

Bowing

The tradition of bowing is a way of showing the mutual respect we have for the individuals who have dedicated themselves to this path in life. A proper bow should be done from the hips and the eyes should be trained on the object of your respect.

Seating

While seated on the floor, members should keep a proper posture conducive to health. Hands should be placed on the knees, the back should be straight, and legs should be crossed in front with the feet tucked beneath the thighs.

Decorum and Orderliness

During practice, members should observe decorum and orderliness. The Do Jang should always be kept clean, in order, and well ventilated.

Do Balk

Members should exercise care to keep their Do Balk clean and pressed at all times. It is important to give a good impression of our art and a neat appearance is important in this respect. A high degree of cleanliness should also be maintained among members. Members should take care to pay respect to their bodies and keep themselves clean. Fingernails and toenails should be clipped and kept short to prevent injury while fighting.

Warm-up exercises

Warm-up exercises should be practiced by members prior to training to prepare the body and mind. An unprepared body could be straining under the rigorous Tang Soo Do exercises. When training is terminated, students should relax themselves with a series of exercises to help them return to a calm and normal state.

Basic Motions

In order to promote improvement in skill, one must learn the basic motions and practice them constantly until they are perfected. Concentration and work must be expended by students to master the various forms in order to promote themselves. Through forms and basic motions, precise and accurate techniques will result. It should be remembered that all Tang Soo Do techniques depend on basic motions and forms. Learn them properly and apply them in your free fighting.

Matters that demand special attention while training in Tang Soo Do

Purpose of training should be enhancement of the mental and physical self

It is good to have great hope and expectations when you start, but do not be overly ambitious. If you think that you will be great after two or three months training, you will be tired before the end of even one month. This is not reasonable because you expected more than you could achieve. Nothing is achieved easily. If so, it does not have any value. Try to pass through the first gate of training with an open mind.

Consistent schedule during practice

You should have purpose, hope, and courage continuously, as you had in the beginning, until you have reached your goal. If you do, you will achieve the desired end. There will always be some unknown difficulties, and it will require absolute courage to practice it constantly. It will take real courage to break down difficulties from heat, cold, and idleness. This is done by constant practice. Loud talk, haughtiness, and violence are not real courage.

It is necessary to train in the basic spirit of Tang Soo Do

To know the true spirit of this art, one must train constantly, combining the basic spirit of Tang Soo Do with training systems and methods.

Do your best while training

You cannot develop your full ability in techniques if you are lazy and do not exercise hard while you train, and you will lack in physical development.

Regularly spaced practice sessions

You will have good results if you practice at a regular time each day. This kind of habit will bring good results and will help in other aspects of your life.

Obey the word of instructors or seniors without question (look and learn)

Your instructors or seniors have more experience in both techniques and theory, so it will be helpful to recognize your faults in your training by listening to them. You don’t know your own faults. You develop good skills under a senior’s guidance, and you can correct your faults quickly. In training, this is an important factor in improving yourself.

Don’t be overly ambitious

Effective skill will come to you naturally if your efforts are made with sincerity. You may have difficulty with your physical conditioning if you practice unreasonably hard and try to hurry the effect. If so, you will not achieve the desired goal. Therefore, it is good to advance step by step, constantly.

Pay attention to every aspect of your training

As everyone has a different face, so will everyone have their own special ability; according to method and level of training or physical conditioning. The basic meaning of martial arts is the development of complete mental and physical conditioning. If you practice only in hand techniques, because you feel that your hand techniques are strong, you will be ineffective. You must develop all aspects of the mind and body to be truly skilled in the arts. It is reasonable to discover and to develop special techniques according to your physical condition. However, this is not for the beginner. This should develop after you have reached a certain level.

Pay attention to the order of training

In training, there are some techniques which are easy and some which are hard. You should start with the easy ones and progress to hard ones, and from simple to complex in the order of training.

Get instruction, step by step, in new forms (hyungs) and techniques

You have to learn new forms or techniques from instructors or seniors. After you find out the important points, it is wrong that you should remember only the method of a form and consider it lightly. For example, in learning a new form, you should separate its elements and start from the easy part and progress to the hard. Develop strength and correct posture. Learn how to use power, develop fast and slow techniques, the expansion and contraction of the body, focus, breathing, etc. These things are learned from practicing the forms over and over. It is generally the same in practicing sparring.

Time to overcome your feelings of idleness

This may not seem to be important, but it is one of the most important matters. The condition of idleness does not come from insincerity or intention. It is a natural phenomenon which occurs periodically. You should develop good habits in training to be able to overcome your feelings of idleness, so you can progress in the arts.

Cleanliness is desired after practice is finished

After finishing practice, it is easy to catch cold. This can occur after hard training because of carelessness while losing tension. One cannot experience a real feeling of rest without a clean body after practice. The improvement of the physical condition is not so much from training as from the proper rest after training. Rest is important after training for the person who is interested in the improvement of his physical condition.