Tang Soo Do Hyung / Karate Do Kata: A Comparison

by Master Kevin Watson - 6th Dan

In Volume 1, Chapter 5 of Great Grandmaster Hwang Kee's text, Tang Soo Do, he notes that Forms (Hyung in Korean, Kata in Japanese) can be classified as either Weh Ka Ryu or Neh Ka Ryu.

On pages 352-353, he lists 39 Hyung, with 23 classified as Weh Ka Ryu, and 16 as Neh Ka Ryu. There is also a second list in the paragraph which follows this list naming the Hyung that would be covered in Volume 2 of his text. Some of the Hyung named in this second list are not named in the first list. (Sip Soo, for example, is not in the first list which classifies Hyung as either Weh Ka Ryu or Neh Ka Ryu, which is why I used the term "approximately 40 Hyung" as written above.)

The following is a nearly complete list of Hyung / Kata name translation based on independent research. Any mistakes are mine and mine alone, and my sources are cited at the end of this article.

I will also attempt to give brief descriptions where appropriate as to background and use of Hyung / Kata. Obviously this is a subject for much further in-depth study, so probably the best place to start is simply to make a list.

This information and subsequent research into the history and origins of Tang Soo Do Hyung also cleared up a great deal of the confusion surrounding how these Hyung came to be practiced by some, but not all Moo Duk Kwan members. Although this is not the primary focus of this article, it is important to note that there were quite a few Korean martial artists who trained in many styles of Karate in Japan--not "only" Shotokan as is popularly thought. I hope the following list will be of help and stimulate further interest in exploring our Hyung.


  Hyung Kata

Weh Ka Ryu:


Kee Cho Hyung Il Bu
Kee Cho Hyung Ee Bu
Kee Cho Hyung Sam Bu

1 to 3 - In traditional Karate systems, known as "Chi-No", Taikyoku", etc.

Pyong Ahn Cho Dan
Pyong Ahn Ee Dan
Pyong Ahn Sam Dan
Pyong Ahn Sa Dan
Pyong Ahn O Dan

4 to 8 - In traditional Karate systems, known as "Pinan" or "Heian", etc.

9. Passai-Dae

Bassai-Dai - To "escape a fortress". Over 50 versions of Bassai exist in various styles.

10. Passai-So

Bassai-Sho - The "So" suffix means "lesser known", and the "Dae" (as above), means "more well-known".

11. Jin-To (Chin-Do)

Chin-to, Chin-to "Wa"

12. Oh Sip Sa Bo

Goju-Shiho - "54 steps of the Black Tiger".

13. Wang Shu

Wan-Shu - Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan, "renamed" this Kata "Empi".

14. Tjin

Ji-in - Little-known outside of Shito-Ryu.

15. So Rim Jang Kwon

No matching Kata. This refers to "Shaolin Long Fist" (please refer to conclusion).

16. Dam Toi Ten-Sho - This Kata was created by the founder of Goju-Ryu Karate, Chojun Miyagi.
17. Kong Sang Koon (Dae)


18. Kong Sang Koon (So)

Kosokun-Sho - "Kosokun Dae" & "Sho" are among the most studied Kata in Karate.

19. Ro Hai (Lo Hai)

Rohai - Also known as "Meikyo" in Shotokan.

Ro Hai Ee Dan
Ro Hai Sam Dan

Rohai Ni-Dan, San Dan - Little-seen outside of Shito-Ryu.

22. Eesip Sa

Niseishi - Also "Nijushiho" in Shotokan.

23. Woon Shu

Unsu - Translates to "Cloud Hands" - highly advanced Kata in both Shito-Ryu & Shotokan.

Neh Ka Ryu:

1. Tsan Tjin

Sanchin - This Kata is the bedrock of Goju-Ryu & is believed to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, Kata ever known.

2. Jun Jang

Unknown - This is one of the few forms for which a translation could not be found.

3. Ssi San

Unknown - However, this may be another version of Sei San, perhaps from Goju-Ryu/Naha-Te?

4. Ssi Boai

Unknown - This may be another spelling of Seipai used in Goju-Ryu & Shito-Ryu.

5. Bae Rin Ba

Suparinpei - "108" highly advanced form in Goju-Ryu, Shito-Ryu.

6. Ssan Ssi Bbai

Sanseiru - "36", also an advanced form in the Goju-Ryu & Shito-Ryu arts.

7. Sei San (Sei Shan)

Seisan - Also known as "Hangetsu" in Shotokan.

8. So-Jin

Sochin - "Men of Peace", well known in Shotokan.

9. Sai Hoo Ah

Saifa - "To tear and smash". Integral in Goju-Ryu and Shito-Ryu.

10. Goo Reung Hoo Ah

Kururun-fa - "Calm the Waves". Used in Goju-Ryu, Shito-Ryu.

11. Jin Toi

Chin-te - "Bamboo Hands". Used in Goju-Ryu and Shotokan.

12. Ji-On

Jion - "Temple Sound" - Also a possible name of an ancient temple in China.

13. Tae Kuk Kwon

Tai Chi Chuan - One of the main internal Martial Arts of China.

14. Ne Bboo Jin Cho Dan
(Naihanji Cho Dan)

Naifanchin Sho-Dan - Also known as "Tekki" in Shotokan.

15. Ne Bboo Jin Ee Dan
(Naihanji Ee Dan)

Naifanchin Ni-Dan - Known as Tekki Ni-Dan in Shotokan.

16. Ne Bboo Jin Sam Dan
(Naihanji Sam Dan)

Naifanchin San-Dan - The Naifanchin Kata are used in Shotokan and Shito-Ryu.

The "Next List":

The second list, on page 353 of Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee's book is in paragraph form, listing 15 Hyung (Kata) that Great Grandmaster Hwang Kee stated would be covered in Volume II of his text. Most of the Hyung listed above are on the list, but a few are not mentioned above. They are:

1. Sip Soo - this Kata is known as "Jitte" in Karate-Do, and as Great Grandmaster Hwang Kee explained in Vol. II, is classified as Neh Ka Ryu.

2. So-ojin - it is my belief that this is merely another phonetic spelling of the "So-Jin" Hyung listed above, and is probably not a different name.

3. Sippal - this Kata is known as "Sei-Pai" in Karate-Do (Shito-Ryu, Goju-Ryu) and is very well known in traditional Karate, with many versions known to exist. However, I also believe that it is possible that the "Ssi Boai" Hyung listed in the Neh Ka Ryu section above may also be another name for the same Hyung / Kata.

It seems that the majority of the Karate Kata which were included in the lists above were not all from the Shotokan system, founded by Gichin Funakoshi. Research indicates that the founder of the Ji Do Kwan (Chi Do Kwan), Grandmaster Yoon Kye Byung, was a student of Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-Ryu, and Kanken Toyama, the founder of Shudokan Karate-Do. Grandmaster Byung was perhaps the only person to teach Karate in mainland Japan during World War II who was of Korean heritage. This is an astounding achievement, given the animosity between the Japanese and Korean people at this time, and shows the respect given to Grandmaster Byung for his skills and knowledge.

Grandmaster Byung apparently had a close relationship with Great Grandmaster Hwang Kee as well, and by the late 1950's-early 1960's, Grandmaster Byung merged his Kwan with the Moo Duk Kwan. This is undoubtedly where the majority of the Hyung (Kata) from the Shito-Ryu and Goju-Ryu systems made their way into the curriculum on a limited basis in the Moo Duk Kwan. Although, as the list above shows, not many people knew or practiced the forms from these lineages. Also, since the Great Grandmaster had already begun some sort of standardization of curriculum as well as research and development of the Chil Sung and Yuk Ro Hyung, it seems apparent that he chose which Hyung best reflected the needs of his students, and chose which Hyung to include for required practice.

Another factor in the history and development of our forms can be seen in the forms that are not based on Karate Ryu-Ha. The two main examples are "So Rim Jang Kwon" (Shaolin Long Fist) and "Tae Kuk Kwon" (Tai Chi Chuan). As most of us know, these are not only forms similar to Hyung, but entire Martial Art systems that the Great Grandmaster was exposed to during his training in China and elsewhere. It also seems that he included these because they reflected his own personal training as well as a method of teaching students the Internal Martial Arts.

In the final analysis, this information is not necessarily "new"--it has been in front of us the whole time. Based on this information, and thanks to learning such Hyung as Passai-So and Wanshu-Te from Kwan Jang Nim Ah Po, it seems that Great Grandmaster Hwang Kee chose the Hyung that best represented the Weh Ka Ryu and Neh Ka Ryu aspects of the art, and his development of the Chil Sung, Yuk Ro, and Hwa Sun Hyung represented a fusion of these methods--or Chung Ga Nyu .

In reviewing this information with Kwan Jang Nim Ah Po, he was kind enough to contribute the following, which is an important distinction that should be noted when discussing this subject:

"Kwan Jang Nim Hwan Kee's classification of Hyung under either the Weh Ka Ryu (outside the house) or Neh Ka Ryu (inside the house) categories is specific to the hyung's choreography, covering a lot of area or space (such as in Passai) or a minimal amount of area (such as Naihanji forms). It has nothing to do with Weh Gong or Neh Gong energy or power indicative of the techniques that the Hyung consist of..."

"...the Traditional (Japanese and Chinese based) Hyung that we continue to teach and practice currently in Tang Soo Do are those that Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee felt were most beneficial to the style that he developed. Also, many of the forms that he eliminated in fact duplicate some of the techniques and choreography of those he chose to retain."

As stated at the beginning of this article, this is a subject for much more in-depth research and study. I hope that this will stimulate thought and discussion about the history and evolution of our Hyung, as well as create appreciation for all we have to learn in our wonderful Martial Art--Tang Soo Do. Of course, more research is needed to gain information, particularly on the three hyung listed in the Neh Ka Ryu section: "Jun Jang", "Ssi San", or "Ssi Boai" that could not be identified. I would humbly ask anyone who is interested in the historical information presented here to do their own research on the people (such as Grandmaster Yoon Kye Byung, Kenwa Mabuni, Soke, and Kanken Toyama) and other Martial Arts mentioned (Shotokan, Shito-Ryu and Shodokan, as well as Tai Chi Chuan and Long Fist so as to form their own opinions and gather their own knowledge about the history of Tang Soo Do Hyung.

As mentioned earlier, any mistakes and/or omissions in this article are mine and mine alone. I welcome any response and hope that other senior Ko Dan Ja in Tang Soo Do will add their knowledge to this subject.

Special thanks as always to Grandmaster Andy Ah Po, whose teachings and knowledge are always an inspiration to "dig deeper" for knowledge and understanding. Thanks also to Master Constantino Terrigno, who also motivated me to look into this subject after comparing many notes, and having many late-night conversations.

Tang Soo!

Bibliography and Recommended Readings:

●  Unan-Te: The Secrets of Karate by John Sells. (W.M. Hawley Publications) This book is a complete reference on nearly every
    style of Okinawan and Japanese Karate, with information on all Kata, lineage charts of all styles, and is a well-organized

●  The Korean Martial Arts Handbook by Glenn Jones. (Hermit Kingdom Publishing) This book is a similar text to the one listed
    above, with extensive information on nearly all Korean Martial Arts history, schools, styles, etc.

●  Shotokan Karate: A Precise History by Harry Cook. (Page Bros., Ltd., Norwich--Norfolk England) An excellent source for all
    possible questions concerning the history, development, and teaching of Shotokan throughout the world.

●  Seishin-Kai Martial Arts: Kata Translation from Japanese to English (private publication) by Kuniba Shogo, Soke.

●  "Our Direct Lineage to Grandmaster Hwang Kee Through the Practice of Hyung" (private publication) by Andy Ah Po, Kwan
    Jang Nim - Tang Soo Do Martial Way Association.

●  "Soo Bahk Do Dae Kahm"(Tang Soo Do-Vol.1) Korean Version by Grandmaster Hwang Kee  (Sung Moo Sa Publishing [?])  In
    addition to showing many Hyung demonstrated that are not in the English text, Grandmaster Hwang Kee demonstrates
    Hyung such as O-Sip-Sa-Bo and Tae Guk Kwon (Tai Chi Chuan).  Of the 30 Hyung listed and/or demonstrated in the text, the
    last 4 Hyung are described in written format only.  If anyone has any information on what those Hyung are, please let me
    (or the Tang Soo Do community as a whole) know.

Tang Soo Do Moo Do Kwan (Tang Soo Do Martial Way Association) Hyung:
(Classified by Weh Ka Ryu, Neh Ka Ryu, and Chung Ga Nyu)

Weh Ka Ryu

Neh Ka Ryu

Chung Ga Nyu

Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu
Ki Cho Hyung Ee Bu
Ki Cho Hyung Sam Bu
Pyong Ahn Cho Dan
Pyong Ahn Ee Dan
Pyong Ahn Sam Dan
Pyong Ahn Sa Dan
Pyong Ahn O Dan
Passai Te
Passai So
Jin Do
Ro Hai
Kong Sang Koon
Wan Shu
O Sip Sa Bo
Naihanchi Cho Dan
Naihanchi Ee Dan
Naihanchi Sam Dan
Sip Soo
Sei San
Ji On
Chil Sung -"Seven Stars" - Created by Great Grandmaster Hwang Kee approximately 1952.

Chil Sung Il Ro
Chil Sung Ee Ro
Chil Sung Sam Ro
Chil Sung Sa Ro
Chil Sung O Ro
Chil Sung Yuk Ro
Chil Sung Chil Ro

Yuk Ro -"Six Paths" - Created by Great Grandmaster Hwang Kee approximately 1958.

Yuk Ro Cho Dan - (Du Mun - "Great Gate")
Yuk Ro Ee Dan - (Joong Jol - "Cutting the Center")
Yuk Ro Sam Dan - (Po Wol - "Embrace the Moon")
Yuk Ro Sa Dan - (Yang Pyun - "High Whip")
Yuk Ro O Dan - (Sal Chu - "Killing Hammer")
Yuk Ro Yuk Dan - (Chung Ro - "Seize and Capture")


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