The translated meaning of Tang Soo Do is “Defense / Strike” a term that has two different interpretations. The easy one is that defense comes before attacking. This is an important message in that it defines Tang Soo Do as a Defensive Martial Art.
If you are looking to acquire the skills of a Navy Seal such that you can force your way into a hardened enemy bunker, Tang Soo Do is not your best choice. Don’t get me wrong, many of the exercises and techniques of Tang Soo Do will serve you well in any defense situation. But almost every technique, form, hyung, and fighting sequence begins with a defensive move. We attack only when there is no other option.
Tang Soo Do is a defensive martial art.
That being said, there is another interpretation of Defense / Strike that is equally important. The defensive techniques of Tang Soo Do are soundly offensive. Our blocks are powerful strikes. Here is a demonstration I like to perform in class to punctuate the concept.
Kyosa Nim (Certified Instructor) Brian Mattes is demonstrating Fighting Technique #1. Next he uses the same blocking technique to break two one inch boards. This is sufficient force to break a nose, cheek bones, collar bones, ribs, or the smaller bones of an attacker’s arms. Unfortunately, my little Flip Video Camcorder doesn't capture high def, but you'll get the point.
Clearly, this simple block is also an offensive strike. This is the other interpretation of Tang Soo Do’s meaning; “Defense / Strike”