Hwa Rang Do

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Hwa Rang Do
Hangul 화랑도
Revised Romanization Hwarangdo
McCune–Reischauer Hwarangdo

Hwa Rang Do is a Korean martial art that was developed in the 1960s by Joo Bang Lee and his brother Joo Sang Lee. The name Hwa Rang Do is translated into "The Way of the Young flowers" or "The Way of the Flowering Knights." The artform has multiple areas of focus, including fighting techniques, weaponry, spiritual training, intellectual enhancement, and artistic pursuits.


Hwa Rang Do was named after the Hwarang, a buddhist elite youth order of the Silla kingdom during the Three-Kingdoms Period, in what is now Korea. These young men were cultivated to fill significant roles in politics, civil service, and the military. These individuals were selected exclusively from the royal family and aristocracy and led members of the broader public who are described below as Rang-do. [1]

Joo Bang Lee's martial arts training started with his father who taught him Yudo and Kumdo at a young age. Then in 1942, a monk named Suahm Dosa took in Joo Bang Lee and his brother, Joo Sang Lee, to his home for training. (Note that "Dosa" is actually his title, and it is roughly equivalent to "hermit sage expert".) They trained with Suahm Dosa at the Suk Wang Sa Temple in the Ham Nam province of North Korea, before later escaping south with him and the rest of their family to Seoul. (Suahm Dosa had no formal syllabus to teach them.) Suahm Dosa relocated to Ohdae Mountain shortly afterwards.[2]

The Lee brothers continued their training with Suahm Dosa until 1950 when they moved further south to Taegu. There, they met a martial artist named Choi Yong-sul, who was the father of Hapkido. They continued their training with Choi through the 1950s and became registered Hapkido instructors in Seoul in the early 1960s. They stayed involved with the Hapkido community in Korea until the late 1960s.[3]

In 1968, Suahm Dosa died and left the title of "Do Jo" to Joo Bang Lee, making him the 58th successive holder of this title. The brothers then took all their martial art knowledge and generated the Hwa Rang Do syllabus from scratch, and continued with their teaching of Hwa Rang Do. In 1972, Joo Bang Lee moved to California, taking the World Headquarters of Hwa Rang Do with him.[4]

The Physical Techniques[edit]

During the course of training, a practitioner will learn long forms, short forms, basic techniques, kicking test, and various self-defense techniques including one step sparring methods, defense against grabs and holds, defense against kicks, joint locks, and throws. In addition, various weapons are taught including Ssang Jyel Bong (nunchaku), Jang Bong (long staff), and the Jang Kum (sword). Defense against other weapons, such as the knife and sword as well as teaching the use of Dan Bong (short stick) and cane are taught, but training with those weapons does not occur until black sash ranks. In their application programs, Hwa Rang Do students will also have extensive study in ground fighting and grappling (Gotoogi), weapons sparring with bamboo swords (Gumtoogi) as well as staff and double stick fighting (Bongtoogi).[5] According to the Aug/Sept 2014 issue of Black Belt Magazine, They launched their new full round open-hand fighting program called Yongtoogi. This program not only includes hand fighting and kick boxing, but it also includes takedowns, throws, and quick submissions. It is continuous five minute rounds, and the goal is to takedown and submit your opponent in five seconds.

The Rank System[edit]

In Hwa Rang Do, practitioners are given sashes to signify their progression through the martial art. Before Cho Dan (first degree black sash), the belt order goes from white to half-black:

  • White Sash: Moo Kub (ninth grade)
  • Orange Sash: Pal Kub (eighth grade)
  • Yellow Sash: Chil Kub (seventh grade)
  • Green Sash: Yuk Kub (sixth grade)
  • Purple Sash: Oh Kub (fifth grade)
  • Blue Sash: Sa Kub (fourth grade)
  • Brown Sash: Sam Kub (third grade)
  • Red Sash: E Kub (second grade)
  • Half-black sash: Il Kub (first grade)

After receiving a black sash, a practitioner earns the title Jo Kyo Nim (assistant instructor). In addition, every degree of black sash has its own title, and shows a respective knowledge level. Note that there can only ever be one ninth degree and one tenth degree at any one time.

  • Cho Dan: first degree black sash. Title: Jo Kyo Nim (Assistant instructor)
  • E Dan: second degree black sash. Title: Kyo Sa Nim (Instructor)
  • Sam Dan: third degree black sash. Title: Sa Bum Nim (Head Instructor)
  • Sa Dan: fourth degree black sash. Title: Susok Sa Bum Nim (Chief Instructor)
  • Oh Dan: fifth degree black sash. Title: Kwan Jang Nim (Master)
  • Yuk Dan: sixth degree black sash. Title: Do Sa Nim, or Dosa (Master)
  • Chil Dan: seventh degree black sash. Title: Su Suk Kwan Jang Nim(Chief Master)
  • Pal Dan: eighth degree black sash. Title: Kuk Sa Nim or Chong Kwan Jang Nim (Grandmaster)
  • Gu Dan: ninth degree black sash. Title: Kuk Sun (Head Grandmaster)
  • Ship Dan: tenth degree black sash. Title: Do Joo Nim (Supreme Grandmaster, Keeper of the Way)


Meaning of Hwa Rang Do[edit]

Hwa = Flower
Rang = Man
Do = Way

The common English translations are "The Way of the Flowering Manhood" or "The Way of the Flowering Knights". The "Man" idea in this title refers to an ideal man: one of honor, strength, responsibility, and virtue. The reason for the word "Flower" is to state that just as a flower grows and then blooms, so should a man grow and then bloom. Since it is in the name of the Art, these ideas are central to all aspects of Hwarangdo: one should be without needing to try to be. By this concept a practitioner is taught to be humble, strong, and honorable.[6]

The Hwa Rang Do Meng Sae[edit]

Hwa Rang Do attempts to teach moral principles in addition to physical techniques, out of a belief that those who receive martial arts training must also be taught to use their skills responsibly. The foundation of Hwa Rang Do's code of behavior is the Hwa Rang Do Meng Sae, composed of the Oh Kae, and the Kyo Hoon. The five rules and nine philosophical principles of Hwa Rang Do.[6]

Hwa Rang Do Oh Kae (Five Rules of Hwa Rang Do)
Korean Numbers (1-5) Rules in Korean (Hangul) Translation
Il Sa Kun E Choong Loyalty to one's country
E Sa Chin E Hyo Loyalty to one's parents and teachers
Sam Kyo Woo E Shin Trust and brotherhood among friends
Sa Im Jeon Moo Tae Courage never to retreat in the face of the enemy
Oh Sal Saeng Yoo Teak Justice never to take a life without a cause
Hwa Rang Do Kyo Hoon (nine virtues)
Korean (Hangul) English
In Humanity
Oui Justice
Ye Courtesy
Ji Wisdom
Shin Trust
Sun Goodness
Duk Virtue
Choong Loyalty
Yong Courage


  • Lee, Taejoon (2005). Hwa Rang Do: Defend, Take Down, Submit. Los Angeles: Black Belt Books. ISBN 978-0-89750-147-7. 
  1. ^ http://www.hwarangdo.org/social/memview.asp
  2. ^ Echanis, Michael (1972). Knife Self-Defense for Combat. Los Angeles: Black Belt Communications. pp. 11–13. ISBN 978-0-89750-022-7. 
  3. ^ Jung, Hyung Min (March 21, 2011). "Hwa Rang Do Founder Joo Bang Lee on the History of Korean Martial Arts". Black Belt Magazine. 
  4. ^ Garris, Nicole (August 1, 1993). "Oriental Healing for the Mind and Body". Orange Coast Magazine (Orange Coast Kommunications) 18 (12): 12. 
  5. ^ url = http://www.gumtoogi.com/
  6. ^ a b Koenig, Peter (January 1, 1977). "America’s Special Forces Learn Ancient Guerilla Tactics". Black Belt 15 (1): 19–23. 

External links[edit]

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