Hwa Rang Do is a Korean martial art that was created by Dr. Joo Bang Lee and his brother Joo Sang Lee. This martial art teaches and encourages fighting techniques, weapons, spiritual training, intellectual enhancement, and artistic pursuits. It has a very involved technique structure.
The name Hwa Rang Do is Korean for "The way of the Flowering Knights". It was named after the Hwarang, an elite youth order of the Silla kingdom during the Three-Kingdoms Period, in what is now Korea. The Hwarang were, basically, volentary child soldiers consisting of older children, teenagers, and young adults. Mostly from aristocratic families, who were educated in artistic, academic, and martial fields of study.
While the founders and practitioners of Hwa Rang Do claim that their techniques are inherited from the fighting methods used by the Hwarang, there is a great deal of controversy among modern historians regarding whether or not the Hwarang were primarily a warrior order.
In 1942, according to Joo Bang Lee, a monk named Suahm Dosa took he and his brother, Joo Sang Lee, into his home for training. (Note that "Dosa" is actually his title, and it is roughly equivalent to "hermit sage expert.") They lived with Suahm Dosa at the Suk Wang Sa Temple in the Ham Nam province of North Korea, before later escaping with him to Ohdae Mountain in South Korea during the communist take over. Suahm Dosa had no formal syllabus to teach them, but rather taught whatever caught his fancy that morning.
After their training by Suahm Dosa, the two brothers spent some time learning other martial arts including prior existing stylers. Such as Kung Fu, Karate, and Ju Jit Su, before they set out to create their own martial art. The brothers generated their syllabus from scratch, based on the techniques which they could remember from Suahm Dosa, and then started to teach it to the public. At this time, Joo Sang Lee moved to the United States to spread Hwa Rang Do there.
In January 1969, Suahm Dosa died. However, prior to his death he gave the Hwarang title of Do Joo Nim ("Owner of The Way") to Joo Bang Lee. Because the younger brother was the one still in Korea and, in Suahm Dosa's eyes, the one who cared more about the art, Suahm Dosa gave him the title. This action angered Joo Sang Lee, and led to an estrangement between the brothers in later years.
In 1972, Joo Bang Lee moved to California, taking the World Headquarters of Hwa Rang Do with him. Joo Bang Lee currently claims the title of "Supreme Grand Master" of Hwa Rang Do; it is believed by his adherents that he is the 58th successive holder of the Do Ja Nim title.
Characteristics and Structure
During the course of study up until black sash, a practitioner will learn a long form, eight basic techniques, around 30 "one step sparring" techniques and about the same number of self-defense techniques, and some short forms, every sash level. In addition, three main weapons will be taught: The Ssang Jyel Bong (nunchaku), Jang Bong (long staff), and the Muk Gum (sword). Defense against other weapons, such as the knife, are also taught, but training with those weapons does not occur until black sash. Hwa Rang Do students will also have extensive study in grappling, joint manipulation and submission fighting, and new curriculum rollouts allow studying kumtoogi and weapon fighting earlier in the program.
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