Volumes by Grandmasters

In a recent issue I reviewed a couple of martial arts books and made reference to the 19 books I have which specifically are about Tang Soo Do. This time I wish to comment about volumes written by Grand Masters and my personal experiences with each of them.

The first book is Soo Bahk Do written by Grand Master Hwang Kee. Sadly he passed in 2002. This book is excellent and contains all our ‘Hyungs’ up to Bassai. Although in black and white the photographs are good quality and the diagrams are clear and consistent. This is an expensive book which is difficult to purchase due to the fact no one readily parts with their copy and it’s out of print.

The preface of the book contains the following statement:- ‘No martial arts library can be complete without this book and no serious student of martial artistry can ignore the information contained in this book.’

I agree with this statement and commend the book to you.

On a personal note I first saw Grand Master Hwang Kee in 1981. I was grading to green belt in a squash court on an American air base. He sat in the squash court at the centre of the examination table flanked by two other masters including I believe at the time master Kang Uk Lee. Year’s later Grand Master Hwang Kees signature was on my first black belt certificate. This was issued by the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association. Moo Duk Kwan

The second book which is in print and readily available is written by Grand Master Kang Uk Lee. It was written in 1998 when he was heading the International Tang Soo Do (Soo Bahk ) Federation. This is a well laid out book with good quality black and white photographs and diagrams. The hyungs in this book go up to ‘Ro Hai.’ And as the cost is reasonable I recommend you get a copy if you can as it is a helpful reference book.

This time on a personal note I wish to comment that I attended numerous grading’s and seminars conducted by grand Master Lee and I have a ‘Dan’ grade certificate endorsed by him in 1987 when he was an 8th Dan. In all the years I knew him (1980 until 1987) I never saw him smile.

This was in contrast to our own, sadly missed Kwan Jang Nim Theo. Salm who as part of his leadership qualities always exuded good humour and a smiling countenance.

The last Grand Master’s books I wish to comment on are Grand Master Jae shul shin who sadly passed in 2012. His books run to 6 volumes and they are extensive and competently written. Not all volumes have significant value for instructors who will have a good grasp already of volume 1 ‘The Essence’ and numerous elements of other volumes. Volume 5 ‘The Instructor’ Manual wasn’t s book I got a great deal from as I had been teaching for over 25 years when I read it. I value volume 2 The Basics which has all the hyungs to black belt in it and volume 4 The Advanced Hyungs which go up to Kong Sang Koon.

I commend these volumes to you and believe they are available at 60 to 70 euros.

My personal comment about KJN Jae Chul Shin is that I was with him throughout the 1990’s. I was part of the World Tang Soo Do Association and he signed a number of my higher Dan certificates. In addition he personally endorsed his books to me as when he was in England one of my tasks was to drive him to church each Sunday. On one of these journeys I commented on handwritten notes he had with his bible and he stated only some of them were religious annotations and some of them related to Hyung. He then went on to say in his more mature years he was trying to perfect Pyung Ahn Cho Dan. I expressed surprise that he wasn’t concentrating his efforts on a much higher form. He smiled and said ‘Pyung Cho Dan’ has no kicks in it.

The books I have recommended above are not identical in how they portray the forms but I personally value the different interpretations rather than criticise them. Let us seek uniformity rather than argue that one set of human movements is better than another.

On a lighter note, I took KJN Jae Chul Shins words to heart and the next time we can train together when the pandemic allows us to then ask me to demonstrate Pyung cho Dan. After 48 years of training I think I make an acceptable attempt at it.

By Master Geoff Keerie