The picture is a three dimensional image leading from the center of the insignia to the foreground. Like the road ahead of us, the picture gets smaller as it gets further away. There are seven major points on the logo: four circles, the sam taeguk, the two straight lines, and the school name, Buckeye Tang Soo Do, which creates an isosceles triangle with the two straight lines.
Sam Taeguk: A Korean symbol symbolizing the co-existence of um, yang, and chong. In this symbol, heaven (yang) is portrayed in red, while earth (um) is blue. The yellow lobe represents man (chong) and their embodiment of the spiritual and physical.
Two Lines Extending Out From Center Sam Taeguk.
Three dimensional time lines leading from beginning of time to present, back to front. They do not converge; rather they lead into the sam taeguk showing that the beginning of time is a circle beginning with past moments, not a definite point. Also, the lines extend beyond the outer loop showing that Buckeye Tang Soo Do is not the end of the time line, merely a point on it. Buckeye Tang Soo Do is a step along a line that is neither the beginning nor the end and has neither a beginning nor an end.
Four Surrounding Circles
Buckeye Tang Soo Do's lineage. Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin to Master Michael White to Master Simone Genna to Mr. Holtman. The innermost circle is referring to Grandmaster Shin with Master White, Master Genna, and Mr. Holtman following in the time line. The largest gap between the lines is between Grandmaster Shin and the Yin/Yang showing that there were many people, events, and time before him. The lines between Grandmaster Shin and Master White, and Master White and Master Genna are the same distance, while the distance between Master Genna and Mr. Holtman is shorter. These lines are representational of each individual's life and their experiences. Life is circular, nature is circular, the martial arts train to be circular. Therefore, each person is represented as a circle on the straight line of time. The circles are just points plucked off the time line. All other practitioners and arts who have come before and after me have their own points and corresponding circles. They are just not visually represented in the insignia.
The two time lines converge with the name, 'Buckeye Tang Soo Do,' to form a triangle with the point at the top (at the center of the Yin/Yang). This idea is the same as the Composition of Tang Soo Do from Grandmaster Shin's book Volume I, The Essence on page 4. This composition shows a triangle with 'Spirit' or "Way of Life" at the top and 'Tang Soo Do' at the bottom with all the various Arts (Art of Meditation, Art of Fighting, etc.) in between. In this setting, the 'Spirit' or 'Way of Life' is at the center of the logo, the center of time, the Yin/Yang. All the martial arts throughout the history of time (Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do, Jujutsu, Karate, Iai-do, Kendo, etc.) fall onto the time line eventually working its way out to 'Buckeye Tang Soo Do.' Buckeye Tang Soo Do is merely an art building upon the knowledge of past arts and who will pass its knowledge onto future arts.
The angle at the top of the triangle is set at 90 °. While the other two angles are set at 45 ° Most of the techniques practiced in Tang Soo Do are done at either a 45 ° or 90 ° angles. This relates the perception, direction, and angles of the insignia directly to the perception, direction, and angles of a unique Tang Soo Do practitioner.
Mountain and Sun Interpretation
The image can also be interpreted with the three circles representing the sun rising over a mountain. Buckeye Tang Soo Do has strong roots in Appalachia Tang Soo Do, the “mountain branch” from the original trunk of the WTSDA tree, a first generation branch. The Mountain can be a metaphor for Appalachia Tang Soo Do or the Appalachian mountains and the sun represents a look beyond. The sun rises from East to West; therefore the sun is rising East over the Appalachian Mountains of Central Pennsylvania and shining into the hills and plains of Ohio proclaiming that this is a new day. That the sun is, for the first time, taking a peek; it is looking a little bit further, past where it is now and as it looks over this mountain it sees something that it hasn't seen before, 'Buckeye Tang Soo Do.'
The Inverted Photo Interpretation
If we look at the two straight lines being a 3D line that represents time. We can imagine that we are looking into a tunnel of the future that is looking at the sam taeguk. At the foreground is the name 'Buckeye Tang Soo Do' which is the current point in my training and the next step that I must take. Still, the lines extend behind 'Buckeye Tang Soo Do' showing that this is not the beginning of the line. As we are striving to attain complete fluidity between Body, Mind, and Spirit, we travel forward on the line and will eventually pass the four points. We can allow the four circles to be representational of three of the steps that we must take in order to reach our goal. Obviously, I cannot draw all of the steps that we will have to make to achieve harmony; however, I can draw three points that are representational of the Body, Mind, and Spirit in our travels and training.
The Upside Down Interpretation
If we turn the insignia upside down and look at as a two dimensional image we can see a circle with a piece cut out. Inside this piece is 'Buckeye Tang Soo Do'. If we allow the circle to be representational of Mother Earth, we can see that as The World Tang Soo Do Association spans over the globe, 'Buckeye Tang Soo Do' is merely a piece of the complete circle. With the sam taeguk at the center it is still representational of the center of everything being harmonious and rounded. In this interpretation, Buckeye Tang Soo Do does not complete the circle. It offers a piece into the history and tradition.
The Application of Technique Interpretation
If we relate the sam taeguk to a practitioner, we can deduce that the student is striving to be one with the Universe or the Tao.
If we view the insignia from straight above, we can imagine the center sam taeguk as the center of the practitioner who is facing South (straight down). (Note, when practicing Tang Soo Do, you face the Southern direction because that is where Heaven is located. Refer to a description of the Tae Keuk Ki or the South Korean Flag.) We are now able to visualize the practitioner's line of sight along the straight lines. Tang Soo Do techniques incorporate a lot of hip and leg action and move in circular motions. Choosing a Choong Dan Kong Kyuck or center punch (any technique can be chosen), we are able to further visualize the motion of the practitioner along the circular lines to a single striking direction, the straight lines.
Referring back to the Upside Down Interpretation, we can see the relationship between the three circular lines and the Body, Mind, and Spirit. Only with all three working in accordance with each other can a singular technique be completed. If a practitioner is lacking any one of these three points, the technique is incomplete. This would lead to the rotation of the practitioner, from technique to technique, to create a circular motion either too large or too small and would reduce its efficiency. However, when all aspects are in Harmony and the practitioner has allowed him/herself to become one with the Dao, then the techniques are complete leading to an Art that is complete.
The insignia is very simple in design yet represents complicated materials and ideas: from the complicated hidden three dimensionality in the picture to the even further hidden fourth dimension of time along with the simplicity of the picture. This insignia requires only nine strokes of the brush to draw, not including the name of the school. This insignia is representational of the center of itself, the sam taeguk. In this logo, we compare simple with complicated. This is the essence in my personal training and in life. I portray, or appear, to be something simple and uncomplicated. However, once you start to see the depth of the picture, the enigma takes shape.
There are many different interpretations of the logo that have arisen over the years. The official definition of the logo still stands. However, the multiple interpretations have added new insight and understanding, not only into the logo, but into our training.
It was very important to me that the logo was more than a pretty picture and had substance and meaning behind it. With the evolution of these new interpretations, I feel that the depth and understanding of the logo is constantly growing. Which creates another direct relationship between the image definition and real life: "Buckeye Tang Soo Do is merely a point on the line with is neither the beginning nor the end" along with the official definition never being solidified - it is constantly evolving and adding new insight into training.
This insignia has no wasted space or strokes of the brush. Every line, every space, every space between lines has a meaning and importance to Buckeye Tang Soo Do. This was an aspect taught to me by my instructor, not to waste space or time. That when movement was inevitable, you move. No hesitation, no unnecessary movement, just straight to the point.
The insignia can be hand drawn or silk screened on uniforms with relative ease. When done in color the Um/Yang/Chong will have red on the top left, dark blue on the bottom, and yellow on the top right. The insignia will be done in black and white and students will be permitted to color in their own sam taeguk upon a successful first promotion. This will allow each unique practitioner to give their uniform a personal touch. Students can then make their sam taeguk representational of their own being and training.