Tang Soo Do is a relatively modern Korean martial art based upon the ancient Korean art of Soo Bahk Do, which dates back to the 6th Century. However, the exact origin of Tang Soo Do is obscure. Some Japanese Karate experts insist that the art is of Japanese origin; some say it came from Okinawa; others say it began in China with Bodhidarma and spread from there.
It was during the Silla Dynasty (618 - 935 AD) that the martial arts expanded rapidly in Korea. The Kingdom of Silla was one of the three kingdoms in Korea and was notable for the military prowess of its young warrior class, the Hwa Rang. The five basic principles of Tang Soo Do are derived from the principles of these elite warriors. However, Tang Soo Do gained most of its popularity during the Koryo Dynasty (935 - 1392 AD).
At the beginning of the Yi Dynasty (1392-1910), the National Martial Arts Manual was published, and the term Soo Bahk Do became widely used. During the occupation of Korea by Japan (1907 - 1945) the practice of native martial arts was prohibited. This prohibition forced many Korean Soo Bahk Do Masters to emigrate, or to practice secretly. Tang Soo Do was developed by Grand Master Hwang Kee. He mastered Tae Kyun and Soo Bahk Do at the age of 22. Upon his travels to Northern China in 1936, he encountered a Chinese variation of martial artistry called the Tang Method. From 1936 to 1945 he combined Soo Bahk Do with the Tang Method and developed what was to be known as Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, even though it was officially registered in Korea on November 9, 1945 as the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association.
At the beginning of the modern era of the Korean martial arts, Tang Soo Do was the most popular term for the merged martial arts, however, at that time, the Korean political leader was concerned about establishing Korean value based on Korean nationalism. The political leaders recognized the popularity of Korean martial arts around the world, but were opposed to the use of the name Tang Soo Do for the art, as it sounded like a Chinese martial art. In 1964, a government sponsored small group created a new name for the Korean martial arts: Taekwondo. The World Tang Soo Do Association still respects the original term, Tang Soo Do, and intends to preserve its heritage and value as a traditional way or path. So Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do are divided principally, with Tang Soo Do striving to remain as a traditional martial art, while Taekwondo held its world games and sport.