Song Moo Kwan

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Song Moo Kwan
Also known as Songmookwan
Date founded March 20, 1944[1]
Country of origin Korea Kaesŏng, North Hwanghae Province, North Korea[2]
Founder Byung Jik Ro[3]
Arts taught Taekwondo
Ancestor arts Kong Soo Do, Shaolin Kung Fu, Hapkido
Ancestor schools Korean Kongsoodo Association
Official website
Song Moo Kwan
Hangul 송무관
Hanja 松武館[4]
Revised Romanization Song Mu Gwan
McCune–Reischauer Song Mu Kwan

Song Moo Kwan, also named "Song Moo Kwan Kong Soo Do ", is one of the Five original kwans (martial art schools) of taekwondo in Korea.[3] Its founder, from 1944, Byung Jick Ro ,[5][3] is one of the highest ranking taekwondo practitioners in the world.


Byung Jick Ro was born July 3, 1919, in Kaesung City, Korea.[3] Frail health forced him to enter school a year later than normal. At the age of 12, his interest in the martial arts intensified as he watched the techniques practiced in local temples. He was inspired to train with intense dedication, which subsequently strengthened him and improved his health.

As a young man, Ro traveled to Japan to study law at Japan University. He sought out Shotokan founder, Gichin Funakoshi. Beginning in 1936, Ro studied Shotokan under Funakoshi, along with Chung Do Kwan founder, Won Kuk Lee. Ro subsequently earned his 4th Degree black belt in 1943. During college vacations, he returned home and taught friends and neighbors the techniques he had learned.In February 1944, he returned to Korea, where he continued to create additional hand and foot techniques of his own.

Honoring numerous training requests, he opened the Kaesung dojang on March 20, 1944[6] in the Kwan Duck Jung archery school, establishing the first of the "original founding kwans". Unfortunately, due to the situation in Korea during this time, the dojang was forced to close within three to four months after opening. It was the end of World War II, and Korea was under Japanese occupation. Survival was the first priority for the people of Korea, and training in the martial arts was far from their minds. On May 2, 1946, Ro re-established his art at Dong Hung Dong City. For the next few years, martial arts swept through the Korean general population and began to thrive as additional Kwans sprang up. However, war would again cause Ro and the rest of the founders to abandon their dreams, as the Korean War forced them to close their doors.

Early Song Moo Kwan practice sessions started with an hour of warm-up exercises consisting of lifting weights and then practicing on the Kwon Go (makiwara). Byung Jick Ro was known as a powerful puncher and kicker from his students. He always let his students punch the Kwon Go at least 100 times and then started the real practice. If students received the 4th Guep or higher, he let them spar. He was known to have his students practice in cold weather during winter and in the hot weather during summer.

One of Byung Jick Ro's original students, Young Sup Lee noted:

"Every six months, there was testing for promotion. Mainly one step sparring, three step sparring, free sparring and forms were used to decide promotions. But free sparring was for 4th Guep and higher, and 1st Dan required breaking a board. If these rules were broken, the Kwan Jang was very upset."

In July 1946, Byung Jik Ro (Song Moo Kwan), Won Kuk Lee (Chung Do Kwan), Sang Sup Chun (Yun Moo Kwan), and Byung In Yoon (Chang Moo Kwan) met to discuss Korean martial arts and possible unification. Hwang Kee (Moo Duk Kwan) was not present. Nothing definitive came from the meeting.

In the 1958, Ro's son and eventual successor, Ro Hee Sang began studying Taekwondo and HoShin Sul in 1963 and Northern Shaolin Kung Fu in 1967. He (Ro, Hee Sang) subsequently became an instructor to the Korean Army and one of Korea's Taekwondo champions. He also trained in Gumdo.

Lee Young Sup succeeded Byung Jik Ro at the helm of Song Moo Kwan followed by Song Tae Hak and of late Kang Won Sik before the chain of office was passed on to Ro Hee Sang the current Chairman and President of Song Moo Kwan Worldwide .In September 9,2015 Supreme Grand Master Byung Jik Ro passed away peacefully in his home in Minneapolis at the age of 97 .Supreme GM Ro was awarded posthumously the 10th Degree Black Belt by Kukkiwon the foundation he helped develop and was the recipient of the prestigious Korean Presidential Medal in 2014 among many decorations and citations for a lifetime achievement.

Korean Kong Soo Do Association[edit]

On May 25, 1953, while the war was still raging, representatives of the five original kwans (Song Moo Kwan, Chung Do Kwan, Yun Moo Kwan/Ji Do Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan and Moo Duk Kwan) met in Pusan and formed the Korea Kong Soo Do Association. The association did not elect a president. They elected Young-Joo Cho (a Yudo stylist) as Vice-President and Byung Jik Ro (Song Moo Kwan founder) as the Executive Director.

Byung Jik Ro was also established as "the master instructor" and as "the chair of the rank promotion committee." Eventually dissension set in, and the association dissolved. Chong Do Kwan continued to describe its art as Kong Soo Do until about 1962.

After the war ended, Hong Hi Choi and Nam Tae Hi founded the Oh Do Kwan within the military and for military personnel only, although it had strong links with the civilian Chung Do Kwan which Choi later founded in 1954. Choi claims to be the developer of the Chang Hon set of patterns used by the International Taekwon-Do Federation, but some believe they came from Nam Tae Hi, who had much more experience and training in the martial arts than Choi, who was his commanding officer.

The Korean Taekwondo Association[edit]

On September 3, 1959, representatives of the six kwans agreed to unite under the name "Korea Taekwondo Association", and General Hong Hi Choi was elected its president. General Choi was elected president because of his position as a general in the Korean Army (under a military regime) and because he promised the heads of the original kwans that he would promote Taekwondo. However, the country was poor and had other more pressing concerns than spending valuable resources on martial arts. Because the government failed to come through with the things Choi had promised, he fell into disfavor with the other kwan heads.

On September 19, 1961, by presidential decree, the newly formed association became the Korea Tae-Soo-Do Association. This is considered the "true" inauguration of the KTA.[citation needed] Mr. Che Myung Shin (a non-martial artist) was chosen the first KTA president, serving until January 15, 1965 when he was replaced by General Choi. Choi served as president for one year, during which he convinced the association to change its name back to the Korea Taekwondo Association. The name change was completed on August 5, 1965. On January 30, 1966, Byung Jik Ro, founder of the Song Moo Kwan was elected president of the KTA.

Kwan Unification[edit]

On January 8, 1977, nine of the largest kwans unified,[7] recognizing the Kukkiwon as being the black belt promotional body for Taekwondo. Prior to this declaration, many practitioners had considered their individual kwan certifications as being more valuable than the certificates which were issued by the Kukkiwon or KTA.[7] The WTF replaced kwan names with serial numbers. The kwan serial numbers are as follows: (1) Song-Moo-Kwan, (2) Han-Moo-Kwan, (3) Chang-Moo-Kwan, (4) Moo-Duk-Kwan, (5) O-Do-Kwan, (6) Kang-Du-Kwan, (7) Jung-Do-kwan, (8) Ji-Do-Kwan, and (9) Chung-Do-Kwan.[7]

Modern times[edit]

Taekwondo Song Moo Kwan still exists today. In the form of a Korean social club, Won Sik Kang was the President of Song Moo Kwan, having been appointed by Byung Jick Ro and resigned from his role in 2010.

Hee Sang Ro, Byung Jick Ro's son, now runs the Korean Song Moo Kwan Social Club and the World Song Moo Kwan Association, a global martial arts organization, plus his private business that carries on the traditional training developed by his father. It serves as a resource for martial artists with Song Moo Kwan lineage, or those interested in traditional Taekwondo training.

The official training curriculum endorsed by Taekwondo Song Moo Kwan is the Kukkiwon curriculum. Song Moo Kwan as all kwans, support the World Taekwondo Federation, the Kukkiwon and the Korea Taekwondo Association, which Ro had helped to establish.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scott Shaw's History of Taekwondo
  2. ^ History of Tang Soo Do
  3. ^ a b c d "Grand Master Byung Jick Ro and the Song Moo Kwan",, 2010, web: SMK-hist.
  4. ^ 네이버 :: 지식iN
  5. ^ "A Modern History of Taekwondo",, 2010, webpage: StanEdu-twd.
  6. ^ "Kwan: in Korean literally means building or hall",, 2010, webpage (PDF file): CV-9kwans.
  7. ^ a b c "History Of Taekwondo: World Taekwondo Federation (P2)",, September 2011, webpage: TDK2.
  1. A Modern History of Taekwondo, 1999 (Korean), Kyong Myung Lee and Kang Won Sik, ISBN 89-358-0124-0.
  2. Global Taekwondo, 2003 (English), Kyo Yoon Lee, ISBN 89-952721-4-7.
  3. A Guide to Taekwondo, 1996 (English), Kyo Yoon Lee, ISBN 89-85936-05-0.
  4. Kukkiwon 25th Anniversary Text, 1997 (Korean), Un Yong Kim.
  5. Kukkiwon Textbook 2006 (English/Korean), Um Woon Kyu.

External links[edit]