Lessons on Terminology and History

with Dan Bernardo, Sabom

Hyung or Kata (型)

The Japanese symbol for Kata/Hyung is based on 2 characters, (土) "Tsuchi" which means "earth or soil" and (刑) "Kei" meaning "cuts with a knife".

The picture behind the symbol of Hyung is an Earthen Mold. And it's this idea, "a Mold", that the true meaning behind Hyung can be found. Hyung (forms) are practiced for quite a few different reasons in today's martial arts world, whether for traditional practice, entertainment or simply a part of belt requirements. But traditionally they were done to mold the student into a proficient martial artist. Hyung are designed to mold and shape our bodies, our movements, our breathing into martial bodies, martial movements and martial breath.

Because of this, the traditional form was compiled to preserve and teach specific lessons. In Tang Soo Do, we carry on forms from Okinawa, Japan and China. And it's very important that we understand that a form is like a textbook, and each form had it's author. And many of these forms are actually named after their authors.

Let's take for instance, Kong Sang Koon (공상군). This form was handed down to us from the Okinawans. Originally called Kusanku (公相君) named directly after a Chinese man from Fukien who is believed to have traveled to Okinawa to teach his system of fighting. When we practice Kong Sang Koon, we are molding ourselves to fight like Kusanku.

Another hyung we practice, Jinto, again comes from Okinawa. Named directly after the Chinese man Chintō (鎭東) a Chinese sailor, sometimes referred to as Annan, whose ship crashed on the Okinawan coast. To survive, Chintō stole from the crops of the local people. Matsumura Sōkon, a Karate master and chief bodyguard to the Ryūkyūan king, was sent to defeat Chintō. In the ensuing fight, however, Matsumura found himself equally matched by the stranger, and consequently sought to learn his techniques. And these techniques are what we practice in Jinto. When we practice Jinto, we are molding ourselves to fight like Chintō.

Keep this in mind every time you practice Hyung.

All calligraphy done by Master Dan Bernardo


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