The Do Jang of Won Kwang was a military academy and do jang in the city of Pyong Do in Koryo. It was one of ten respected schools in the land for the teaching of martial arts, particularly tae kwon do, and techniques of honorable behavior and warfare.[1][2]


In 925 DR, the noted monk, scholar, and philosopher Won Kwang established a school for martial arts and other skills in the city of Pyong Do in the then kingdom of Koguryo. Known simply as "the Master", Won set down its daily routine and rules and also built a shrine there.[2]

By 1357 DR, the Do Jang of Won Kwang was a prestigious military academy.[2][3]

Philosophy & RulesEdit

Won defined five rules for the basis of the school's teachings and the good behavior of its students:

  1. "Loyalty to lawful rulers."
  2. "Honor to parents and friends."
  3. "Bravery in battle."
  4. "Strength in heart and mind."
  5. "Mercy and justice in necessary killing."[2]

Furthermore, no saki or any other kind of intoxicant were allowed in the do jang.[2]


The school included a shrine and a temple, and a main building for training.[2][note 1]


As was common for practitioners of tae kwon do, students of the do jang wore training uniforms, or do bak, consisting of white pants and a short white robe, tied with a belt whose color and tips denoted their grade, or gup. Beginners, known as neophytes, started at 10th gup and achieved lower gups with higher grades, denoted as follows:

  • 10th gup: white belt
  • 9th gup: white belt with yellow tips
  • 8th gup: yellow belt
  • 7th gup: yellow belt with green tips
  • 6th gup: green belt
  • 5th gup: green belt with blue tips
  • 4th gup: blue belt
  • 3rd gup: blue belt with red tips
  • 2nd gup: red belt
  • 1st gup: red belt with black tips

These colors each bore special significance. White represented innocence. Yellow represented the earth, in which the seeds of tae kwon do were planted; this plant sprouted and took root here. Green represented the plant growing and unfurling; new skills were acquired like leaves were grown. Blue represented the sky and Heaven; as the plant matured with training, it reached to the sky and heavens. Red warned of danger to would-be foes, and indicated agility, balance, and knowledge of all combat techniques taught in the do jang. At this point, the student was expected to train only to perfect their physical and spiritual nature.[2]

After this point, a student achieved the rank of master and a black belt. Black represented an imperviousness to darkness and fear, and indicated maturity and proficiency. As they advanced, black belts could learn special techniques and maneuvers. However, as none could be truly perfect, there were different degrees of black belt, or dan, ascending through 1st dan, 2nd dan, and so on. Each do jang marked these degrees in different and even secret ways, and the Do Jang of Won Kwang was no different.[2]


Students were typically taken to the school at the age of six, and thereafter left in its care.[3] Since it was set down by the Master, the daily routine of the school remained unchanged for over four centuries.[2]

Each day, waking before dawn, students dressed in their do bak then exercised for two hours. Afterward, they meditated then had a small breakfast of rice porridge. The rest of the morning was spent in study, unless it was a holy day, in which case they worshiped in the temple.[2] In these studies, students learned the arts of war, military history, geography and general knowledge (with a focus on the land of Choson, later known as Koryo), and animal husbandry, as well as courtly manners, calligraphy, and meditation techniques.[2][3]

At midday, students were allowed an hour off; most used this time to practice a hobby or conduct personal business. At the end of this period, they reported to the school's main building, where they had a midday snack, typically some fresh fruit or dried fish.[2]

Through the afternoon, the students were instructed and supervised in martial arts by school masters. They were taught both armed and unarmed combat techniques. The former included the use of weapons, and the latter focused on self-defense and the martial art of tae kwon do. At this time, students trained to perfect their techniques and underwent testing to achieve new grades.[2]

At sunset, the students commenced worship with the chants of Ki Rho Zsa[note 2] and burned incense beside idols in the shrine as they made their prayers. Afterward, they had dinner, which included meat and nuts.[2]

In the evening, the students learned from the masters techniques for focusing and enhancing their ki. With focused ki, it was said they could endure much more than an ordinary person, being able to ignore the touch of hot coals or the bite of chill wind, to live without food and drink for three times longer, to live in a harsh desert, and to survive any catastrophe. Students could spend hours working to focus their ki, after which the masters permitted them to retire. They laid on sleeping mats.[2]

Notable StudentsEdit

Over the centuries, the Do Jang of Won Kwang had trained many great generals, including King Wanang Sun, and some students aspired to follow their careers. Meo Cha was a student there.[2][3]



The Do Jang of Won Kwang is heavily based on the practices of taekwondo, with identical uniform and common belt colors and arrangements. It is also heavily based on the hwarang, a Korean military order of the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries who practiced an early form of taekwondo and had very similar rules devised by the monk Won Gwang.


  1. The main building would be the do jang itself, as "dojang" is a hall for martial arts training in Korean.
  2. It is unknown who or what "Ki Rho Zsa" is.

See AlsoEdit


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