SoMa Martial Arts School 'Hwa Rang Kwan' Joins Legacy Business Registry

Hwa Rang Kwan Martial Arts Center was granted legacy business status last week, demonstrating that even businesses which have relocated 10 times or more can have a significant cultural impact

The city added Hwa Rang Kwan and the Mission's El Rio to the registry at the San Francisco Small Business Commission meeting on November 13th, bringing the total number of legacy businesses to 113, according to the mayor's office.

The school was officially founded in 1973 at 1901 Fillmore St., but its roots trace back to a youth group at the Korean United Methodist Church in 1969. It is said to be the oldest Korean martial arts school on the West Coast.

Currently located at 90 Welsh St. in SoMa, the school has moved 12 times largely due to rising rents, according to its application for the San Francisco Legacy Business Registry.

Hwa Rang Kwan's current location | Photo: HRK/Facebook

“Despite the frequency with which the school has had to move, it has continually been a safe and disciplined space for Bay Area residents and visitors alike to gain confidence, strength, fitness, and balance through traditional martial arts classes such as Taekwondo, Hapkido and Kumdo (Korean wooden sword),” owner Steve Rapport wrote in the school’s application.

Throughout the years, Hwa Rang Kwan has been located in many San Francisco neighborhoods:

  • 1901 Fillmore Street from 1973 to 1981
  • 1806 Balboa Street from 1981 to 1983
  • 1755 Noriega Street from 1983 to 1985
  • 1111 Ocean Avenue from 1985 to 1988
  • 2438 Taraval Street from 1985 to 1988
  • 2001 Van Ness Avenue from 1988 to 1990
  • 869 Ellis Street from 1990 to 1993
  • 1335 Sutter Street from 1993 to 1999
  • Benjamin Franklin Middle School, 1430 Scott Street in 1999
  • 132 Eddy Street from 1999 to 2001
  • 371 5th Street from 2001 to 2012
  • 90 Welsh Street from 2012 to Present

Hwa Rang Kwan means "The School of Flowering Youth." It's named after the place where the most famous Korean warriors in the 6th century studied armed and unarmed combat in conjunction with music, literature, dance, and Chinese medicine.

Hwa Rang Kwan has more than thirty black belt teachers and students and offers classes for every level of expertise, from beginner to master.

The San Francisco Historic Preservation Committee recommended that Hwa Rang Kwan commit to preserving several aspects of its current business model. Beyond offering traditional martial arts classes, the school offers its space to local martial arts clubs and groups that need a place to practice.

The school's logo includes a laurel wreath that symbolizes peace and South Korea's national flower, the Rose of Sharon hibiscus. | Image: HRK/Facebook

The committee also recommended that the school’s motto, "The friendly place to condition your mind, body and soul," and logo be preserved. The school has consistently used both throughout its operation.

Now that the school has legacy status, it is eligible for specific city assistance, including grants only available to businesses on the registry. 

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Soma martial arts school hwa rang kwan joins legacy business registry