When thinking of martial arts, familiar ones come to mind. There’s taekwondo, karate, Chinese kung fu, and even Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. You can learn some of these in a martial arts school in Centreville such as Taekwondo In Action.
But you rarely hear haidong gumdo or Korean swordsmanship. In truth, haidong gumdo is one of the most practised of Asian martial arts. It has about 1.5 million practitioners in 61 countries.
A Brief History
You can consider haidong gumdo as the Korean version of the way of the samurai. It means “executing justice with the sword light obtained at the break of day from majestic and brilliant sunlight glowing over the eastern sea.” It is quite a mouthful, but still a good way of describing the discipline.
It originates from the ancient Korean nation of Kokuryo. This is located in what is now South Korea. The purpose of its founding is to “rid evil and practice righteousness.” While the samurai weren’t really good guys all the time, haidong gumdo swordsmen are good guys through and through.
Several of its techniques stem from those used to fight off Japanese pirates. And with the introduction of kendo in the 19th century, haidong gumdo further flourished with a plethora of martial styles. Note that many police officers and military personnel learned haidong gumdo during these times.
How it Stands Out
Haidong gumdo can easily resemble Japanese swordsmanship. Even the swords look similar. It uses a single edge, two-handed, curved blade that looks like a katana. The practice constantly evolves, however.
It now adapts to modern day influences such as physical limitations and social expectations. Despite this, it remains a discipline dedicated to sharpening mind and body.
Why practice it when swords are obsolete, then? The same reason why many people practice traditional martial arts: build physical and mental capacity. Swords are outdated in close combat, sure, but the physical abilities and character you build from training are the most important.
It will teach discipline, respect, and other positive values that can be of great help to anyone.