Meanings of Martial Art Terms

Meanings of Martial Art Terms

01. Taekwon-Do 태권도 跆拳道
02. Tang Soo Do 당수도 唐手道
03. Tae Soo Do 태수도 跆手道
04. Hapkido 합기도 合氣道 
05. Yudo 유도 柔道
06. YooSul 유술 柔術
07. Boo Sabum 부사범 副师范
08. Sabum 사범 师范
09. Sahyun 사혼 公司靈魂
10. Sasung 사성 公司特徵
11. Kwon Bop 권법 拳法
12. Kong Soo Do 공수도 空手道
13. Chang Hon 창헌 蒼(靑)軒
14. Chung Do Kwan 청도관 靑(蒼)濤館
15. Kwan Jang Nim 관장님 館范
16. Choong Jae Nim 총재님 總統范
17. Oh Do Kwan 도관 濤館

It is hard to get much looking at the “Korean/Hangul” of most things “foreign”. Hence, why I recommend to dig deeper into the meanings of the martial arts you need to look at the “root” of each style. Here I hope to do that to some small degree.


01. Taekwon-Do doesn’t need to be talked much here, as most people know and understand the term, what I would like to point out is that Gen. Choi had said that “Soo (Te/?) is a subset of Kwon (?). Wouldn’t it be better to use the letter of the father?” Of course he is not referring to the characters as written in Korean/Hangul as you can see here, they are not similar,(? / ?) so he was clearly referring to the Hanja/Kanji, and hence a reason why we should use the Hanja/Kanji rather then the Korean characters.

02. Tang Soo Do is the second most popular striking art in Korea, this is the term most commonly used by all the former Kwan’s and the term Gen. Choi used before Taekwon-Do. The interesting thing about this is that in Japanese the charter for “Tang / ?” is pronounced “Kara” however, this is not the same “Kara / ?” as in Karate. This “Kara” means literally “CHINA” and “Soo” means hand, so this is The way of the China Hand. Another interesting thing is for martial art buffs, the same characters TangSoo/?? – Karate/?? is also pronounced “Tote” and another direct link to our Japanese/Okinawa in roots as the founder of modern karate Funikoshi, Gichin used ToTe in the beginning before using the term Karate.

03. Tae Soo Do another term used for striking arts in Korea isn’t very well known today, the only group still using this term is the HwarangDo group, although the term is not new, the style behind this TaeSooDo is not the same as used prior. The term Tae Soo Do was used in Korea to “unite” those using the terms Tang Soo Do, TaeKwon-Do and others used, and the situation in A above.

04. Hapkido is another Korean art that’s roots are directly related to the Japanese arts. The older generations of Korean knew of this link, and didn’t promote its true history. Again, looking at the Hangul (???) its rather vague, but if you look at the Hanja/Kanji, (???) and it’s very clear the term is used in Japan, except in Japan the term is Aikido, the art founded by Ueshiba O’sensei. According to the histories, both the founder of Hapkido (Choi, YongSul) and the founder of Aikido (Ueshiba, Morihei) both studied Daito-ryu (Aiki)Jujustu under Takeda, Sokaku. Choi being Korean, I would assume that he didn’t study directly under Takeda, but may have been some type of “worker” within the Takeda household. A more “recent” development is to spell it as Hapgido with a “g” instead of a “k” and in Hangul the same character is used for K,G / ? .

05. Yudo is nothing but the “Korean” way of saying Judo. Judo is made of two sets of characters, Ju meaning “gentle” and of course the familiar Do. The term Yu/Ju is used and promoted as its roots are based off of jiujutsu, and most would agree there is nothing “gentle” about it.

06. Yoosul/Yusul is again like Yudo in that it is the Korean way of saying Jujutsu.

07. Boo Sabumnim Pu meaning “1st step” sabum meaning “teacher” and “Nim” being the honorific.

08. Sabumnim, simply meaning “a teacher.” “NIM” being a honorific, like sir or ma’am.

09. Sahyun, basically means “soul of the system” that the Master is the “heart and soul of the system.”

10. Sasung, basically means the “voice of system.” So giving a voice or wisdom to the style or system.

11. Kwon Bop is generally listed as an ancient Korean martial art, however, again, this is not true. Kwon Bop in Chinese is called “Chuan Fa” and in Japanese it is called “Kenpo.”

12. Kong Soo Do, also an early term used for Taekwon-Do, is pronounced “Karate-Do” in Japanese, this “Kara-?” means empty hand, unlike the one listed above at 2 for Tang Soo Do.

13. Chang Hon, Chang means literally “pale blue” and what I would submit the reason for the pale blue on the ITF crest rather then it represents the blue of the United Nations which has been the “official story” for some time. Hon means roughly houses or eaves of houses. Also, an alternative way to write “Chang” is the same Hanja that was used to write “Chung” (?) as in Chung Do Kwan below. Gen. Choi also would have wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the Chung Do Kwan with a very similar name as they were the largest kwan at the time of the founding of the Chang Hon. Another fact that is apparent is that by calling this “Chang Hon” (Blue house) this is “larger” or “bigger” then the “ChungDo Kwan” which is part of a house. Another side note is that the official residence and executive office of the South Korean Head of State is called The Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae / ??? -???). And is referred to that name because it means “house of the blue roof tiles.”

14. Chung Do Kwan, Chung means blue or blue green, and Do means “big wave.” And of course kwan means “mansion/hall/school.” So this is the school of the big blue wave. Over the years this has come to mean several things one meaning being a big wave swamping the Japanese etc. However, I feel this is wrong, as the founder of the Chung Do Kwan, Lee, WonKuk was pro-Japanese and I think it is a direct reference to the “Kamikaze” and the big wave the swamped the Moguls the tsunami the destroyed the Mogul invasion. This would have made sense because the ChungDo Kwan was founded before the liberation of Korea from the Japanese. Also, I believe this is also related to Chuo University that Lee attended while in Japan studying Law as their school color was blue as well. Of course after the liberation, Lee had to have an “official” story that was pro-Korean and anti-Japanese in order to become the largest Kwan. Also please see above to other references.

15. Kwan Jang Nim, the term “kwan” is the same as in Chungdo Kwan etc. It means hall, mansion or school. Jang means “minister” or “preacher of the school” and “nim” is a polite suffix like Mr. or Ms. etc.

16. Choong Jae Nim, simply means President or Mr./Mrs/Ms. President.

17. Oh Do Kwan , basically means “Gym of My Way” and the “My Way” doesn’t denote the founders way (Gen. Choi, Hong-hi) but the singular, the person in that school, so anyone who is part of it.  Indicating that “My Way” is the way you are taught, and learned etc.

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