The Roots of Kuk Sool Won
An appreciation of the classical roots of Kuk Sool Won is essential to your development as a martial artist.
Kuk Sool Won as practiced around the world today, is a relatively young art. It is however, rooted in the early history of the Korean people. When studying Kuk Sool Won, not only are you developing physical and mental strength and skill; you are also gaining an understanding of ancient techniques and wisdom.
The Founder of Kuk Sool Won and the WKSA
Suh In Hyuk founded Kuk Sool Won as we know it in 1961. His family had been martial arts instructors to the the royal court for 16 generations. With the dissolution of the Korean Royal Court in 1910 as a result of the Japanese invasion, all aspects of Korean culture were suppressed. This repression included the study of martial arts.
In order to preserve the traditional martial arts of Korea, many prominent instructors went underground, practising and teaching in secret. In Hyuk Suh’s grandfather, Suh Myung-duk was one such instructor. After the Japanese invasion, Suh returned to his home-town and focused on the preservation of his vast knowledge and expertise. He gave lessons in strict privacy to immediate family members.
Eventually, the time came for Suh Myung-duk to pass on the family knowledge and tradition of Korean Martial Arts. He selected his grandson Suh In Hyuk for this task and set about teaching him. As well as teaching Suh In Hyuk himself, Suh Myung-duk furnished his grandson with letters of introduction to martial arts instructors throughout Korea. These letters coupled with the grandfather’s formidable reputation as master instructor to the korean Royal Court opened doors throughout the country. They enabled Suh In Hyuk to learn all of the Buddhist and Tribal arts, as well as those formerly practised by the Royal court.
In the early 1950s, Suh In Hyuk embarked on the monumental task of collating all of his knowledge and organising it via a straightforward and easy to follow system. He named this system Kuk Sool Won and launched it as such in 1961.
In contrast with other Korean martial arts, Kuk Sool Won is characterised by low stances and lots of spinning and jumping movements. This makes it more challenging and as such it took a while for the public to warm to it. Eventually, it’s popularity grew and by the 70s it was a huge hit.
Suh In Hyuk transferred his headquarters from Korea to the USA in 1974. Kuk Sool Won continued to grow and thrive and now boasts schools all over the world with a particularly strong presence in the USA and Northern Europe.