Tukong Moosul

Tukong Moosul (more accurately, Teuk-gong Musul, Korean 특공무술, meaning literally “Special Forces Martial Art”) officially began as the self-defense system of the South Korean Special Forces. It is widely used by South Korean special warfare units, such as the elite 707 Special Mission Battalion. The roots of Tukong run much deeper, its origins can be traced back many generations, to the Dae Yeon Sa Temple in South Korea.

The martial artist practicing Tukong Moosul is trained in four areas, based upon the distance theory. The four areas include Throwing (leverage techniques), Punching (hand techniques), Kicking (foot techniques), and Weapons (extended body techniques).

Dae Yeon Sa Temple: The Dae Yeon Sa Temple has origins as early as 1200 CE. Dae Yeon Am, meaning “Great Achievement Place,” was the predecessor to Dae Yeon Sa.

Founded by Ji Suk and two other masters in North Korea, they practiced Buddhism without the Martial Arts. The arrival of Song Jae and Bup Kwang at the temple marked the establishment of Martial Arts at the temple around 1269 CE.

Around 1692, the temple was moved to South Korea and the name was changed from Dae Yeon Am to Dae Yeon Sa (“Great Achievement Temple”).

From this point, three masters from China joined and continued to develop the Martial Arts being practiced at the temple.

This explains why Tukong Moosul exhibits both hard and a soft styles (or external and internal styles). Strong undertones relating to Chinese Tai Chi were incorporated, and the internal form of Tukong Moosul known as Ip Sun was created, analagous to Chinese Tai Chi.

In Korea there are two types of Buddhist temples. One is similar to a church of missionary work and is open to all people. The other is solely for individuals who wish to seek self-enlightenment. These temples are ones of sanctuary and privacy, and are not open for public visitation. A few of the temples in Korea are of the later type. The Dae Yeon Sa Temple is a very traditional temple that teaches Buddhism and Martial Arts. This is the tradition that is taught to the students of Tukong Moosul today.

Eun Kwang Bup Sa: Eun Kwang Bup Sa was born in 1895 and died in 1996 at the age of 101 years. He was headmaster of Dae Yeon Sa Temple from 1955 until his passing. Eun Kwang Bup Sa was Yi’s Grandmaster and greatest mentor influencing, molding, and guiding Yi for the rest of his life.

Eun Kwang Bup Sa taught “Jeong Shin Il Do, Ha Sa Bul Sung”. Translated, this means that when one summons one’s mind, heart (body), and spirit in one direction together, nothing is impossible and you can accomplish anything that you desire. Wonik Yi’s goal, in honor of Eun Kwang Bup Sa, is to offer to his students the knowledge, wisdom and philosophy that he has acquired through his training.

Wonik Yi: Wonik Yi entered Dae-Yeon temple at the age of five in 1964. He lived at the temple until the age of nineteen and trained in traditional Moosul (Martial Arts) until he joined the South Korean Special Forces. In addition to his training in Moosul, Yi also trained in Shaolin (Kung Fu) style martial arts. Due to this, there are many similarities between Tukong Moosul and Shaolin martial arts.

While he was in the special forces, Yi’s commander, Chang Ki Oh, and the Korean Government noticed his prominence in Martial Arts and asked him to devise a more modern, powerful, and effective fighting martial arts for the South Korea Special Forces. The military version of Tukong Martial Arts was born in February of 1978.

In the beginning, Tukong Moosul was called Tukjun Moosul. In 1980, Korean Military 26th division became Tukong Division and most other divisions started creating the Tukong Battalion.

There are now several hundred thousand South Korean military and reserve soldiers training each year in the military version of Tukong Martial Arts.

Wonik Yi came to America in 1982 and has been teaching Tukong Moosul in Austin, TX since then. The Tukong Moosul taught by Yi in the USA is traditional and taught in the same styles and forms originating in South Korea and under the guidance of his Master, Eun Kwang Bupsa, at the temple.

Yi’s Tukong Moosul is the combination of this traditional ancient temple style which was developed through many generations from 1200 AD and the innovative modern style based on scientific research and theories.

Principles Taught by Yi:

  • Basic physical conditioning to optimize the human body’s condition
  • Advanced physical conditioning utilizing acupressure and acupuncture
  • Basic and advanced body movements in forms and steps
  • Traditional and modern weaponry
  • Basic and advanced Ip-sun (Tai Chi)
  • Ki Kong (Ki Energy) Training

Wonik Yi was granted the 9th degree designation, which is the ultimate degree in martial arts, by his master, Eun Kwang Bupsa, before he died in 1996. Yi also holds a doctorate degree in education.

South Korean Special Forces: In the late 1970s, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) Army created the 8th Attack commando unit.  To counter this special commando unit threat, the top generals of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) Army decided to create a special commando unit inside their current South Korean Special Forces group. They called the new commando unit the Tu Kong unit. Tu Kong means Special Combat.

Elite martial arts training program for the Tu Kong unit: The second official commander of the Tu Kong unit, Gen. Chang K Oe ordered five masters of martial arts from the Tu Kong Unit and one martial arts master from the Headquarters unit to work together to design an elite martial arts training program for the Tu Kong unit. The South Korean Special Forces already had some advanced martial arts training programs with other names. All these programs had strengths and weaknesses. The job of the six Masters was to improve and combine the best techniques and training from any martial arts style into one complete system for the Tu Kong unit.

Martial Arts Masters develop techniques known as Tukong Moosul: The original five developers of the training program that became known as Tukong Moosul were Master In Ki Kim, Master Sung Pok Choi, Master Yong Kwi Han, Master Sung Ho Lee, and Master Jin Kwon Kim. Also helpful later in the development were Master Chil Hyun Pak. The Headquarters Unit Master was Master Won Ik Yi. In 1981, the Masters demonstrated their combat training program for General Chang who was then the current Commanding officer of the Tu Kong Unit and several other high ranking military commanders.

These commanders were so impressed that they ordered all South Korean soldiers to be trained in some part of this program. The program is now called Tukong Moosul which translates in Korean to: Special Combat Martial Arts.

Grandmaster In Ki Kim became the head Tu Kong Instructor in the Tu Kong unit after the other Tu Kong Unit Masters left the army. Grandmaster Kim continued to refine and develop the Tu Kong Unit’s combat training program and trained the new Tu Kong instructors. Many former Tu Kong Unit martial artists are in the United States teaching different forms of martial arts and have included some Tukong Unit techniques in their program.

Tukong Unit Training has evolved over the years: Today tens thousands of soldiers have trained in the South Korean Army’s Tu Kong Unit since the late 1970’s. All have been greatly influenced by the original six Master’s knowledge and experience. The current Tukong Unit combat training program is not the same as when it was first developed over 20 years ago. Other martial arts masters from the Tu Kong unit have continued to improve to the techniques.

Tukong Moosul in America: In the same way, Tukong has evolved in the United States. Many former Tu Kong Unit martial artists are in the United States teaching different forms of martial arts and have included some Tukong Unit techniques in their program. Most of what is now taught in Tukong Moosul programs in America cannot be used in tournaments. Tournaments are sports that try to avoid injury to the players. Combat is real fighting that tries to injure or kill the opponents. Tukong was designed for combat. Tukong techniques can be lowered to sport levels or remain as lethal or injurious as needed.