View Full Version : Dae Han Kumdo

6/13/2003 8:26am,
(Writer's note: This particular report is based on the Dae Han systme of Kumdo which has not relations to the Hai Dong Kumdo system. It is a system based of the the Japanese style of Kendo. The information presented in this report is based on the study of several researches done on the history of Kumdo. Since there is so much controversy surrounding its origins, I suggest that you research for yourself and draw your own conclusions.)

Kumdo, it is as deadly as it is beautiful.Kum (sword) Do (way or path) literally translates to "Sword Way". Its origins are a mystery due to its close-knit resemblance to the Japanese art of Kendo. Because of this resemblance many practitioners of the martial arts believe that Kumdo is nothing more than the Korean word for Kendo and that it is a purely Japanese art practiced in Korea.

"This little known system of Martial Arts was founded in June 1948. At this historic point in time, many new systems of Korean martial arts came into existence. Due to the long period of Japanese occupation, many of these new schools were influenced, to varying degrees, by the Japanese understanding of the martial arts. Kumdo was no exception."(KD) This
tends to be a very popular ideal since the Japanese occupation of Korea called for a total ban on Korean martial arts. However Japanese martial arts were taught to some Koreans both in Korea and Japan.

What about prior to the Japanese occupation? Didn't Korea have sword arts before then?

The answer is most definitely, yes. An interview, by Taekwondo Times, with Mr. Duk Young Kim, president of the World Kum Do Association, states that Korean sword practice has been around since the period of the Three Kingdoms. "Hwa Rang Do especially contributed to making all Korean martial arts systemic. Keueng Do (bow and arrow art), Kum Do were developed as martial arts for the defense of the fatherland during the period of the Silla Dynasty. According to many historians, all Japanese martial arts were inherited from Korea."(WKA) "Korean Buddhism and the Hwa Rang warriors directly influenced the initial development of the Japanese Samurai in the 6th century C.E."(KD) Another source of proof of sword arts existing prior to Japanese occupation is a book, which dates back to the 1700's, called the Mu Yea Do Bo Tong Ji. This book depicts written, and illustrated, documentation of uniformed practice of the sword as well as other weapon and weaponless arts.

So, if Kumdo has roots that date back so far into Korean history, why isn't it more distinguishable from Japanese Kendo? Why was there no other documentation on Kumdo outside of the Mu Yea Do Bo Tong Ji?

These are two questions that tend to be the biggest gap in the history of Kumdo. One thing we would have to look at is the cultural structure of Korea compared to Japan. During the Choson Dynasty in the 15th century, Korea switched from a warrior class society to a scholar driven society. Because of this change, martial arts were looked down upon as something for thugs and peasants. As a result, Korean martial arts weren't developed. Japan on the other hand remained a Feudalistic society. This resulted in deeper development of martial arts, especially the sword.

During the occupation of Japan in Korea, many Korean books were destroyed and a lot of written history lost. This is a good reason why we have not seen any other books on Kumdo prior to Japanese occupation. Mr. Jung Hak Seo, founder of the Korean Kum Do Association, stated "Until the day of Korea's liberation from Japan on August 15, 1945, Kum Do was called Guek Do and included full body contact. in 1950, the first sword art tournament was held. We have called this art Kum Do ever since then."(WKA) One big trademark of the Kumdo, which is not found in Kendo, is Bon **** Gum Bup.
"...'Bon **** Gum Bup'.... is the oldest sword technique in the world. About 2000 years ago'Bon **** Bum Bup', constituted with 33 movements, was developed by Silla's Hwa Rang warriors to defend their territorial hold."(KK) However, many who believe that Kumdo is Kendo, say that the Bon **** Gum Bup is nothing more than a modern recreation of movements found in the Mu Yea Do Bo Tong Ji.

In the beginning I suggested that the reader should not draw conclusions from this article, but should instead go out to do his or her own research. It is more than obvious that there still needs to be more done to discover the true origins of Kumdo and its relations with Kendo as well as other Korean and Japanese sword arts. No matter what the origins are, no one can deny that Kumdo is a beautiful and deadly art that encompasses mind, body and spirit.

Website for references:


Jeremy M. Talbott

6/13/2003 8:30am,
That's pretty much what I've heard regarding the Dae Han style also...but I'm not sure what Japanese style it resembles. Is it Shinkage Ryu or a different style?

I'm a firm believer in luck. I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. - Thomas Jefferson

6/13/2003 8:36am,
Well that is a good question which is hard to answer. There have been many schools of swordsmanship in Japan. However, much like they did with TKD, they housed all the clubs under one systematic form aka Japanes Kendo Association. I don't believe that there is a specifice School that influence Korean Kumdo. It would just break down to the individual instructor's lineage. Unfortunately I can only trace my lineage to my Instructor's Instructor. My instructor is a 5th dan and his instructor is a 9th dan. Supposedly his family was well to do so he learned privately from his intructor in Korea.

Jeremy M. Talbott

6/18/2003 4:35am,
Hi, miguksaram. I followed your profile and I found this forum. This is my first time to visit here.

To be blant, origin of any Korean martial arts is a "mystery" only if someone don't want to admit Chinese or Japanese origin of arts. As far as Kendo goes, it's a sports/budo so it's pretty pointless to thing in term of Kenjutu lineage.

I'm not saying Japanese or anyone else for that matter don't doctor thei own history however, Japanese usually do it by not mentioning uncomfortable. Korean takes far more active step in this department. Claiming origin of foreing arts from anything Japanese or Chinese or even Yoga is sort of national sports over there.

Now, you really need to understand how Korean see their own history from their humiliating experience of Japanese occapation. Korean official version of history is, to be honest, quite bizzare. If you read texbook for Korean history, you will notice that there are lot of modern history and ancient history but huge gap in between except Hideyoshi invasion of Korea.

Korean often claimed that their history is half million years old. According to their history textbook, the first Korean kingdom, named Ko-Chosun, was formed in 2333B.C. This is one of fundamental basis of Korean originated everything theory.

Now there are absolutely no record to back up this claim. Pluf if you think about it, there are no archeological record of written system even in China 5000 years ago. But this is what is taught in their school. And many Korean sincearely belive it. However, the claim is based on a book written in 1284. Even in this book, introduction state that People of our kingdom know quite a lot about history of China but are ignorant about their own history. So go figure.

Oh, btw, Hwarang myth was invented during the past 50 years when Korean government ordered historian to find something to inspire youth from ancient history and is totally of modern invention. The fact such as that Hwarang (Flower youth/boy) used to be Hwarang (Flower youth/girl) is obviously not mentioned.

There are quite understandable reason why Korean do this. And if Korean martial arts work for you, stick with it. But obsession of orgin and lineage as well as assumption that seniority equal superiority is totally Eastern/Confusious thing. If you are Westerner, you have no need to get into this.

Edited by - Vapour on June 18 2003 04:39:50

6/18/2003 11:38am,
"To be blant, origin of any Korean martial arts is a "mystery" only if someone don't want to admit Chinese or Japanese origin of arts. As far as Kendo goes, it's a sports/budo so it's pretty pointless to thing in term of Kenjutu lineage."

Well that depends on the school you attend. Yes the Kendo/Kumdo aspect is definetly sport. However, there are still schools that teach Kenjitsu/Kumsul. This area of the school will have some sort of lineage, Japanese as it may be.

"Now, you really need to understand how Korean see their own history from their humiliating experience of Japanese occapation."

I have a good clue since I live with one. :) My wife and I discuss issues like this all the time since I try to compare MA history to Korea's own history.

Please keep in mind that I do state that there is a lot of controversy in the formation of kumdo. That is why I tried to play both sides of the coin. I know the report is short and needs more indepth analysis and study. I hope to do more once I get more free time.

Jeremy M. Talbott

6/18/2003 2:03pm,
Go to Sword Forum International, then check the comment posted by Bruce W. Sims in Chinese Swordmanship forum. There are bit of internet research going on about the origin of Korean sword and swordmanship.

There are lot of link you find it interesting.




http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=17291&perpage=25&pagenu mber=2
(Only later part of this thread)


(Connection of Jigen-ryu and Imjin War)

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6/18/2003 3:47pm,
Actually I know Mst. Sims. His Kumdo instructor was my GM's instructor as well. He is also from my area of course he is about an hour from me. He is my martial art 'uncle' if you will. Thank you for the links. I will check them out.

Jeremy M. Talbott