The training system at USTSD is grounded in Tang Soo Do, which is a Korean classical martial arts style emphasizing self-defense through effective hand and foot techniques and traditional forms. While it is not modern sport MMA or kick-boxing, our program includes aspects of falls, take downs and throws, locks, ground fighting, and defense against weapons and multiple-opponents.
The primary emphasis of Tang Soo Do is self-defense. However, training is conducted in a classical manner and the traditional formalities are observed, including showing respect for instructors, fellow students, the American flag, and the training area. In addition, as they progress, students are expected to know the history and concepts of the system and the martial arts in general. In addition, students have the opportunity to participate in periodic inter- and intra-school tournaments where the sporting aspect of the martial arts can be demonstrated.
Our dojang (studio) is equipped with heavy kicking bags, mats for throws and take downs, hand pads, blocking pads, a balance beam, and other training aids. Although students are expected eventually purchase their own, protective sparring gear is available for those just starting out. For obvious reasons, each student is responsible for their own mouthpiece.
Sparring is always conducted in a controlled, safe, and fun environment with approved protective gear. Students work drills and practice fighting with other students to provide them with as realistic a situation as we can safely provide. A considerable amount of time is spent learning and working drills to enhance students’ timing, speed, and effectiveness in sparring. This makes the environment beneficial for both beginners and experienced fighters.
We teach effective, practical material that can be practiced frequently with as many repetitions as possible. To do that, we have taken sequences from the forms and turn them into practical self-defense applications that can be drilled by students with partners and alone when doing the forms. Hwang Kee, the founder of Tang Soo Do, recognized this concept in the first volume of the Soo Bak Do when he wrote:
To study forms one must be concerned with the application and meaning behind each movement and technique, both offensive and defensive. Instead of practicing each movement within the form itself, one should find the meaning behind each movement, the inter-relationship among movements and the reasonableness of each sequence within a meaningful whole.
If one were to disregard the history, value and concept of forms, one could develop hundreds of forms with the individual movements available. That would be, in effect, an attempt to create new ideals, a different philosophy. That would destroy the integrity of our martial art. The body of traditional forms we have offers more than enough challenge, difficulty and complexity for one lifetime. (p.351.)
To develop and protect the integrity of the art, our masters, instructors and black belts have spent several years analyzing the traditional forms of Tang Soo Do in an attempt to find the meaning and reasonable (i.e. functional) application of each sequence. In determining this, they reviewed the history of the forms and took into consideration what those who invented the forms intended as the meaning and application. As instructors, they teach Tang Soo Do forms and techniques with an explanation of the logic, scientific methods, and philosophy behind each movement.