Conniry's School of Tang Soo Do & Tai Chi
2253 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon, CA 92020   Ph: (619) 465-6770

History (General Tang Soo Do) - Tang Soo Do is the traditional name for Korean karate. It means Way of the Tang (China) Hand, referring to the Tang Dynasty of China (618-908 A.D.). It is an empty-hand art that uses blocking, punching, striking, and kicking techniques performed in a dynamic way. However softer, circular movements, take downs, and evasive maneuvers are also used. Ancient influences for Tang Soo Do are the arts of Subak (Shou Bo) and Sorim Kwan Bup (Shaolin Chuan Fa). These arts were practiced in ancient kingdoms corresponding to modern day China (Zhonghua) and Korea. More recent influences are To Te (Okinawan karate) and Taek kyon (Korean kicking art). Tang Soo Do was the foundation for the modern arts of Tae Kwon Do and Soo Bahk Do.

The Moo Duk kwan (Institute of Martial Virtue) was founded in 1945 by Grand Master Hwang Kee in Seoul, Korea. He began teaching an eclectic art called Hwa Soo Do that consisted of Chinese martial arts such as Tan Tui, T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Shaolin Chuan, as well as some Taek kyon he learned as a youth.

He was not having much success until 1947 when he incorporated the art of Tang Soo Do in the Moo Duk Kwan. By the 1950s and 1960s he had one of the largest martial arts organizations in Korea. Inspired by the ancient art of Subak, Grand Master Hwang Kee coined the name Soo Bahk Do hoping that the other kwans (schools) would all use it as the traditional name for Korean martial arts.

About 1960, the Moo Duk Kwan (Tang Soo Do) and the Ji Do Kwan (Kong Soo Do) united together to create the Dae Han Soo Bahk Do associaion. (Later the Ji Do Kwan withdrew.) Some of the Moo Duk Kwan members, however, joined the newly created Tae Kwon Do association. To this day you find Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan, Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan and Tae Kwon Do Moo Duk Kwan organizations; similar yet different: Tang Soo Do maintaining the original traditions, Tae Kwon Do becoming more a sport, Soo Bahk Do undergoing a gradual metamorphosis.

Grand Master Jong Hyan Lee first brought Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan to San Diego in 1962. He was one of the first Korean Tang Soo Do masters to teach in the United States, and was very active in promoting Tang Soo Do until his untimely death in 1985.  Grand Master Lee emphasized not only disciplined training, but the many fine codes of conduct and mental principles of Tang Soo Do, as well. Quite a few students (black belts included) were suspended or expelled for not following them. He was an exceptional teacher, however, who sincerely cared for his students and strove to instill in them positive life qualities. He was an extremely humble man, and frowned on students or anyone who began to follow the path of self-glorification.

Speaking little English upon his arrival in the U.S., Grand Master Lee attended San Diego State University and eventually earned a Bachelor's degree, demonstrating to his students by example the importance of an education. (Thanks to Grand Master Lee's influence, Master Conniry went back to SDSU and earned his bachelor's degree.)

Master Michael Conniry began formal training in Shorin Ryu (Okinawan karate) in June 1964. He became a Tang Soo Do student of Grand Master Lee in August 1966; he was promoted to black belt (in Tang Soo Do we formally use midnight blue) in 1968, certified by the Dae Han Soo Bahk Do asssociation as Dan No. 11179. That same year he opened his first Tang Soo Do school in La Mesa, CA, under Grand Master Lee.

In l973, Master Conniry moved to his present location in Fletcher Hills, El Cajon, CA. He has also been an adjunct teacher at Grossmont College since 1975, teaching karate, T'ai Chi, and self defense classes. He is currently a 7th Dan in Grand Master Clingan's Tang Soo Do association.

Master Conniry began training in Wu style T'ai Chi and Shaolin Chang Chuan with Master T.S. Liang in 1973; he began studying Yang style T'ai Chi with Master Chang Lien-Gway in 1980.

He began training in Iaido and Kobudo in 1981 with Masayuki Shimabukuro Hanshi in San Diego, CA. Michael Conniry is a 3rd Dan in Iaijutsu and a 1st Dan in Jo Do.

In 1992, he successfully completed the instructors training seminar series with Nishiuchi Mikio Saiko-Shihan. Michael Conniry is a 1st Dan in Okinawan Kobudo.




Grand Master Jong H. Lee - circa 1975

Michael Conniry - 1970

Michael Conniry - 1968