About Us

What is Tang Soo Do?


Meaning Of Tang Soo Do

Literally translated the word "Tang" refers to the Tang Dynasty of China, which reflects the shared cultural background between China and Korea (617-907 AD). "Soo" means hand and "Do" means way of life or art.
Brief History
The exact origin of Tang Soo Do, as well as any of the martial arts in general, is obscure, though there are a number of historical theories. However the most credible and traditional view is that martial arts originated not in any one country, but in almost all parts of the world, as they were needed to defend oneself.
Early Development
The ancestral art of Korean Tang Soo Do can be traced back approximately 2,000 years. At that time, Korea was divided into three kingdoms. Paekche was founded in 18 BC in southwest Korea, Koguryo in 37 BC, and northern Korea Silla in 57 BC in the southeast Korean peninsular. After a long series of wars, the Silla Dynasty united the three kingdoms in 668 AD. During this period of time, the primitive martial arts were very popular in warfare. This is evident by murals, ruins, and remains, which depicted the martial arts in those days. Among the three kingdoms, the Silla Dynasty was the most famous for development of the martial arts. A corps formed by young aristocrats who were called "Hwa Rang Dan" was the major group who developed those arts. These warriors were instrumental in unifying the peninsula as the new Silla Dynasty (668 AD - 935 AD), and furnished many of the early leaders of that time. Most Korean martial arts trace their roots to this group. Our five codes of Tang Soo Do originated by a monk "Won Kwang", is a part of their and our heritage. The unified Silla kingdom was overthrown by a warlord, Wang Kun, in 918 AD and a new kingdom called "Koryo" lasted 475 years. In 1392 AD the New Kingdom, Yi Dynasty, succeeded and lasted about 500 years. Approximately a thousand year period elapsed between the two dynasties. Tang Soo Do became very popular among the military. However, more importantly, this art also became very popular with the general public. The very first complete martial arts book was written at this time the "Mooyae Dobo Tongi". It was written in 1790 AD and contained illustrations that substantiate the theory that "Soo Bahk Ki" the formal name of Tang Soo Do, had quickly developed into a sophisticated art of combat.
Modern History
The subsequent occupation of Korea by the Japanese military regime took place from 1909-1945. During this period, practicing and teaching martial arts was restricted. After World Was II, this restriction was lifted and several martial arts training schools began to emerge:

Moo Duk Kwan by Hwang Kee
Chi Do Kwan by Kwai Byung, Yun
Chung Do Kwan by Duk Sung, Son
Song Moo Kwan by Byung Jik, No
Chang Moo Kwan by Nam Suk, Lee
Yun Moo Kwan by San Sup,Chun

These Kwans organized their own organizations respectively and Master Hwang Kee organized the "Korean Soo Bahk Do Federation" on November 9th 1945. Beside the Soo Bahk Do Federation, there were various types of other martial arts called "Kong Soo" or "Tae Soo" existing in Korea. In 1965, all of these various systems were united into one organization, called the Korean Tae Kwon Do Federation and the art was called "Tae Kwon Do" uniformly.

What is the Atlantic-Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation?

The Atlantic-Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation (APTSDF) is a worldwide organization whose purpose is to sanction and certify quality martial arts through developing professional instructors and studio owners. Our mission is to promote traditional martial arts for the 21st century and raise the standard of professionalism to a level that has here to for not been available. Our approach is based on the knowledge that attitude is more important than aptitude and action is more important than education alone. That is, great school owners are developed through professional training (education) and yet proven over time through their action.
If you are school owner, ask yourself where you are today in the following areas:
  • Advanced (martial arts & leadership) training
  • Administration and paperwork (is it effortless or painstaking?)
  • Testing to advanced degrees or rank (black belt & master instructor)
  • Career planning & business training
  • Role models & mentors 
  • Fees & tuition
  • Financial planning
Here are just a few of the benefits of membership in the APTSDF:
  • True brother and sisterhood with none of the “what have you done for me recently?” mentality that is so prevalent in many of today’s larger organizations
  • State of the art Tang Soo Do curriculum that maintains our tradition (Moo Do) while addressing the needs of the 21st century
  • Guaranteed direct communication with the president of the federation for all school owners 
  • Opportunities for built in revenue streams to improve your income and retirement
  • Free business consulting/coaching to help you manage your business and maximize your potential
  • Rank promotions that are internationally certified from color belt to Master Instructor
  • Group training tours to Europe and Asia Pacific
  • Regional, national, and international championships
  • Annual group training retreats, clinics, camps & seminars (black belt, masters and school owners)
  • Seminar outlines and mastery planners (elite leadership, elite weapons & warrior’s path)
The Federation accomplishes the above goal by having two major leadership programs and providing on-going service and support to school owners:
  • Junior Leader Program (17 and under) – a program available to member schools by invitation only
  • Certified Instructor Training Program (18 and over) – a program to help assist with producing the very best staff and leadership personnel.
Our program consists of interactive training modules focused on advanced leadership principles rather than a textbook of martial arts reference material. Our focus is on the art of pedagogy rather than mere physical techniques. We focus on building Black Belt leaders whose goal is to become certified instructors and some day chief instructors and academy owners. We are all about building leaders not only on the training floor but also in the community.


Who is the Grandmaster?

Grandmaster St. James has been training for over 38 years. He is a 8th degree Black Belt in Tang Soo Do and serves as the President and Founding Master of the Atlantic-Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation headquartered just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Grandmaster St. James also serves as Co-Chair of the Asia Atlantic Alliance, an organization of like-minded traditional Tang Soo Do Federations and Associations across the globe.
Grandmaster St. James began his martial arts and leadership training when he was 13 years old. He earned his Black Belt from Grandmaster Young Kook Kwon before graduation from high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When he was 18, he became certified as an instructor and started his teaching career under the tutelage of Grandmaster Young Hyuk Kwon in San Diego, California where he later started his first school while attending the University of California. Grandmaster St. James attained his Bachelors Degree in Political Science in 1984 and later a Graduate Degree in Insurance and Risk Management from the American Institute in 1986.
In addition to being an expert in Tang Soo Do, Grandmaster St. James is considered an expert in personal development and peak performance training. He has been featured in MA Success Magazine, MA Professional, Tae Kwon Do Times Magazine, EFC Eagle Express, Business Master Publications, and has also been recognized in Black Belt Magazine for coaching the current World Record Board Breaking Champion.
Grandmaster St. James holds a brown belt in Shotokan Karate (1975), a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do (1983), and a 4th Degree Black Belt in Hapkido (2003). He is well versed in advanced pressure point manipulation and is certified as an instructor in Quick Defense by the American Self Defense Federation in Belton, Texas. His is also a past Board Member of the World Tang Soo Do Federation where he served as both the Director of Finance and Business and a Regional Director for many years. Grandmaster St. James received his Masters rank and Senior Masters rank from Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin while a member of the World Tang Soo Do Federation.
Grandmaster St. James is considered by his peers to be an expert in traditional Korean, Chinese, and Okinawan weaponry with an emphasis on the Bong or staff. He is well versed in the sword, cane, nunchaku, tonfa, short sticks, dagger, and spear to name just a few. He personally enjoys empty hand forms the most and can often be heard telling his students that the foundation of all martial arts starts with a Black Belt Leader and Champions mindset. It is then demonstrated in all our actions and strengthened with a great command of the fundamental basics which can be learned by constantly practicing traditional hyung or forms.
Grandmaster St. James has also directly trained several World Champions and directed two first place World Competition Teams while with the WTSDA. He currently coaches a World record holder and has many competition wins and one Grand Championship under his belt. His true love is spreading Tang Soo Do by developing top quality instructors/school owners and helping them to learn, grow, and share our art.