Tang Su Do is the Western (Latin) transliteration of the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese characters, and is better known as "Korean Traditional Karate".
Tang Su Do has its roots in the oriental philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism. His practice begins with the body (Wei-Kung: external work), then balancing and strengthening the mind (Nei-Kung: internal work) and from there rising up to the spirit (Shim-Kung: spiritual work). Avoiding a long and thorough exposition, nonetheless we want to point out that, while enhancing health, for example, there is an implicit need of SELF DEFENCE against every risk of physical aggression. Moreover, it is never redundant to notice that, if physical health is a sign of biological survival, the other values are a paradigm of social survival. A violent society brings inside the aberrant germ of its own destruction: hence the need of the principle of "non violence" as a value to survival. The same consideration applies to the other principles/targets: culture, development of conscience, of will, as well as the awareness of the importance of duty as an element of consistency and cohesion within the social organism. But Tang Su Do, like every science or art, is an abstraction and every abstraction can become pretence in the hands of anti-culture operators, opportunists and imitators. The effectiveness of an art cannot be measured exclusively by the originality of its techniques, but from the coherence of its formative path, that is from the method, and, moreover, from the source of intelligence whence this idea and its meaning spring from. In a few words: abstractions which do not become accomplished facts might remain pretences. And the bridge than links the abstraction (idea) to the fact is the MAN. Therefore the name of the idea: Karate, Tang Su Do, Judo, Taekwondo, Kendo, says very little if it is not linked to the name of its operator, its "medium", a man: the teacher or the master, who is both the guide and the model, without whom no idea can become fact and no Tang Su Do can lead to a good result.
Our Tang Su Do
Observers may judge a martial art (Tang Su Do or others), by means of looking at the practitioners who are executing it, otherwise it would not be possible, since, like everything that is non-material, Tang Su Do is an abstraction, an idea. "You can tell a tree from its fruits" reads the Gospel's parable, and it is true: ideas, just like people, may be seen in their results, in the facts. Therefore, what is the "fruit" that a spectator can appreciate while watching a TSD demonstration? Fighting techniques, the power of breaking techniques, the dexterity in using weapons or the effectiveness of self-defence skills…thus he sees what is showed to him: images. The ordinary observer does not see beyond the images, and he judges on the basis of these.
So what is behind (or before) the techniques of TSD? We have a values list which will help to understand what is more important than technique:
1) Spirit 2) Physical condition 3) Discipline 4) Form 5) Technique 6) Control of energy 7) Theory (just what we are doing in this very moment!)
The first point is the essential thing: spirit. What is this? The spirit is the origin and end of everything. Without spirit nothing has life, nor sense; and that's the way it is in the universe as well as in every single human being. The first determinations of the spirit are: CONSCIENCE, WILL, and SUPERIOR EMOTIONS. In a TSD practitioner, a weak spirit will result in a disharmonic form, or will express a poor technique, or reveal a lack of energetic control, or simply will reflect hisignorance. A spirit lacking of will, hardly will overcome the difficulties he will encounter along his walk (his personal DO), such as: laziness, sickness, lack of confidence and so on. A spirit lacking of consciousness will not understand what he is doing during the lessons, nor, in a broader sense, which is the value of this martial art in his life. A spirit closed to superior emotions will be incapable of relating to others and to fulfil himself as a man. Not every TSD method or school are equal for the good reason that human beings are different: being man the bridge linking the world of ideas (art and science) to that of accomplished facts, upon him it depends whether "this Tang Su Do" becomes a good to raise or a mere fiction. All of this will depend principally from his spirit: conscience, will and emotions. A true Master gives his spirit to his scholars. Through the teaching of callisthenics, discipline, form, technique, energy and theory he is capable of lighting up the spirit in his students with the purpose of making of them, one day, masters as well. Masters of themselves, therefore men and women humanly evolved. This is our Tang Su Do.