Hwang Kee witnessed martial arts as a young boy and was in love with it ever since. He watched a man defend himself using only his hands and feet from a large group of men. Young Hwang Kee was so inspired by the man’s accomplishment that he sought training from him in the old Korean system of defense called Tae Kyon, which comprises mostly kicking techniques. Hwang states the man refused to teach him. He then practiced the movements he saw from the man at home. According to Hwang, he had become very proficient at the system by age 21. The Korea Taekkyon Association disputes this.
Around the age of 22, Hwang began working on the Chosun Railway and could freely travel between Manchuria and Korea. At this time, Korea was in the midst of the Japanese occupation during World War II. In search of formal training he stated to have found Yang Kuk Jin, a prominent Chinese martial arts teacher. According to Kee, Yang Kuk Jin took Hwang Kee and Park Hyo Pil on as students after several requests.
Hwang Kee combined what he knew of the Chinese and Korean martial arts he’d studied into an art he called Hwa Soo Do, referring to the Hwa Rang warriors of ancient Korea. Translated literally the name means “the Way of the Flowering Hand” and opened his first Hwa Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan Dojang (Studio/Training Hall) on November 9, 1945. Due to the public’s unfamiliarity with the term Hwa Soo Do, he had difficulty in building interest. Because of this, Hwang Kee made the decision to rename his art Hwa Soo (Tang Soo) Do. The public was much more familiar with the term Tang Soo Do and this simple change was instrumental in conveying that he was teaching a martial art. Eventually the art would come to be known as Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan, an amalgamation of the school’s name of Moo Duk Kwan combined with the martial art of Tang Soo Do.
By 1953 and onward until 1960, the Moo Duk Kwan had risen to become one of the strongest martial art organization in Korea, with close to 75% of all martial artists in Korea practicing Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan. Dan members (Midnight Blue Belts, as opposed to black belts) of the Moo Duk Kwan were so highly respected that their certificates could be used as credentials when seeking employment.
In 1957, Kee made a discovery of Soo Bahk, a true Korean martial art, from Muye Dobo Tongji. Kee developed the Soo Bahk system to be studied through the Moo Duk Kwan. He chose the name Soo Bahk Do, a derivative of Soo Bahk Ki, hand striking technique, and Soo Bahk Hee, hand striking dance, which were detailed in the Muye Dobo Tongji. In 1960, the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association was incorporated and officially registered with the Korean government as the traditional Korean martial art.
In 1995, during the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Moo Duk Kwan, Hwang Kee officially renamed the art from Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan to Soo Bahk Do.
 Foundations of Tang Soo Do
The foundation of what is commonly known as tang soo do is primarily subak, taekkyon and kung fu, though later versions of Tang Soo Do (Soo Bahk Do) forms were originally Okinawan/Japanese Karate forms. A distinctive philosophical component Soo Bahk Do and some Tang Soo Do systems include guidelines and principles of Do (Tao), No Ja (Lao Tzu) and Lee Do Ja (Confucius).
One philosophy that Hwang included throughout his art was that no one could ever reach perfection. This was visible in his decision to use the Midnight Blue Belt over the Black Belt and to never promote nor accept the rank of 10th dan. This was also due to the fact the Koreans thought of black as the color of death, but the midnight blue sky was limitless, just like the training and knowledge that one could practice in a lifetime.