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History & Tradition

The Ancient Hwarang Knights


The Hwarang, which translates to Flowering Knights, were the elite group of noble warriors during the Kingdom of Silla of Ancient Korea.


The Hwarang were brave young warriors selected from the royal court who were taught since young to defend their beliefs and to serve the King. They were trained in all aspects of combat, leadership, philosophy, civility, as well as the arts, literature, poetry (created the first styled form of Korean poetry known as the Hyang-ga), and deep spiritual practices. The foundation of the Hwarang were established by then famous Buddhist Monk, Wonkwang Bopsa, who gave them five laws to follow (loyal to the King, loyal to parents, loyal to friends, be fearless in battle, be merciful in killing), which became the Hwarang O-kae that we still abide by today.

In their early teens, they became generals in the King's Army as a Hwarang Knight, each in charge of 1000 to 5000 Rangdo (soldiers) on the battlefield. Although most of the times they were outnumbered against the enemy, the Hwarang were victorious not only for their exceptional fighting skills, strength, and courage, but especially due to their immense bond of brotherhood, duty, honor and loyalty for each other and their King. This 'Hwarang Spirit' made them legendary.




General Yoo Shin Kim.

He is the most famous of all the Hwarang Knights. At the time in which Korea was divided into Three Kingdoms, Koguryo, Paekche, and Silla, General Kim led the unification wars and united the country for the first time in Korean history.


Stories and legends about the Hwarang have flourished in Korean literature and their glorious feats resound in eternity.

A Tradition that lasts until today


Their secret combat skills, preserved in an art called Um-Yang Kwon, were passed down through an unbroken succession of 58 generations to the very present day. Its theory is based on the Um-Yang principle, which states that all things in nature possess equal opposites. The awareness, understanding, then acquiring a state of balance of these opposing forces creates Harmony in life, realizing and being humbled by the true beauty and magnificence of all of God’s creations.


Dr. Joo Bang Lee was raised and educated on the Korean mountains by his Master, the Hwarang Buddhist monk Suham Dosa who taught him the Um-Yang Kwon system, the traditions and the philosophy of the ancient Hwarang Knights.


In 1960, Dr. Joo Bang Lee collected the knowledge he received and he systemized it for the first time as a modern martial art, Hwa Rang Do - The Way of the Flowering Knights.

Dr. Joo Bang Lee is a 10th Dan of Hwa Rang Do® and he is also the father of our Grandmaster Taejoon Lee, 8th Dan of Hwa Rang Do® and 59th heir of the Hwarang Legacy. They are both Hall of Fame Members of the Martial Arts History Museum.

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