송무관 · 松武館

Songmu-kwan is one of the nine schools of martial arts that contributed to the foundation of Taekwondo. Opened by 로병직 (Ro Byeong-jik) in 1944 CE, in 개성 開城 (Gaeseong, Kaeseong), the school is now a society, which officially supports the style of Taekwondo taught by 국기원 國技院 (Gukgiwon, Kukkiwon).


Songmu-kwan was founded on 11 March 1944 CE (which means that Songmu-kwan is the oldest Taekwondo school in the world) in Kaeseong.

Today, Kaeseong is in North Korea, fairly near to the border with South Korea (and is about sixty miles away from Seoul, the capital of South Korea). At the time, though, the Japanese Empire occupied Korea, having succeeded in bringing down the Korean Empire in 1910. 1

Through the annexation of Korea, the Japanese Empire fought to eradicate Korean culture. This meant that within three to four months of its opening, Songmu-kwan was forced to close for two years. By the time it re-opened in 1946, World War II had ended, but Korea was in the midst of internal conflict (a conflict which eventually lead to the division of Korea).

The founder of Songmu-kwan was 로병직 (Ro Byeong-jik), who had trained in Shōtōkan Karate for eight years under Funakoshi Gichin, alongside Li Won-guk. 1


(song) refers to a pine tree, (mu) refers to martial arts, and (gwan, kwan) refers to a training hall, so 송무관 松武館 (songmugwan) means 'Pine-Tree Martial Arts School'. 1

The school was formerly known as 송도관 松都館 (Songdo-kwan), which means the 'School of Pine-Tree City' - this being a reference to Kaeseong, where the school was founded, which is often given the name 송도 松都 (Songdo), or 'Pine-Tree City'.

Ro Byeong-jik studied Shōtōkan Karate under its founder, Funakoshi Gichin. The word 松濤館 (Shōtōkan) is derived from Funakoshi's pen name, 松濤 (Shōtō), meaning 'wavering pines', and (kan) meaning 'training hall' (which is the Japanese cognate of Korean (gwan, kwan)). It may be that Ro intended to symbolise his training under Funakoshi with the character (Japanese shō, Korean song).

Furthermore, the name 'Songmu-kwan' follows the traditional naming scheme for martial arts styles. This would therefore mean that the style of martial arts practised at Songmu-kwan is called 'Songmu-kwan Taekwondo'.



  1. Songmu-kwan Official Website

Korean Date

The date today is,

4350 년 8 월 4 일 (4350, Month 8 Day 4) (24 September 2017 CE)

This is the date according to the traditional lunisolar calendar of Korea. (Note that this is not an authoritative calculation; I’m still working on the details.) The years count back to the legendary founding of Korea by 단군 왕검 (Dan-gun Wanggeom).