View Full Version : Hooray Korean sword!

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2/18/2008 9:06am,
Hey there all!

Joined and thought I'd say hi! Feel free to message me!

I've been training Haidong Gumdo for quite a while now... almost 8 years. woot! Been to Korea to teach English, and got my 3rd level black belt while I was there. Judge my skill, (or lack of it!) at:

Don't worry, I'm not a KMA freak. I've got a realistic understanding of my martial art's history. ^_^


2/18/2008 9:07am,
We knew you could do it! TwistOfLemon posted, YAY! And if a bot is this rude, just imagine harsh this is gonna be. Hope you're wearing a thick gi.

2/18/2008 10:12am,
Good stuff! HDGD rules. What form is that? Yedo? I'm not far enough to know.

2/18/2008 9:30pm,
Yup. This is Yedo Gumbup numbers 2-5. I was paying more attention to speed and agressiveness than form in this one. We were training for a competition, and apparently that's what the judges wanted to see.

That was an actual jingum/sharp sword too. Bloody heavy... >_<

2/18/2008 10:31pm,
I've only used Jin gum for cutting so far. It is just within the last few weeks that my instructor has walked up, stopped me, taken my Mok Gum, given me a ka gum and not said a word....then 15 minutes later, she comes back, takes the ka gum and gives back my mok gum. I'm hoping I get my own ka gum soon. I hate to say it....but there's just a coolness factor related to having a sword. Sharp or not.

2/18/2008 10:58pm,
I'm a Haidong Gumdo yellow belt. A very cool art indeed, unfortunetly I can only train with our teachers it in seminars that are held once every two or three months. My FMA partners and I train it a little bit too after class but only to prevent forgetting everything. So far we've only trained forms and basic cuts, but I'm looking forward actually sparring with it.

Quite a cool video there. I'm still puzzled by the very second form....

That's the video of our first seminar. The instructors are all black belts, students of a Korean named Yang Tae Kim.


And their site : http://hdgd.com.br/

2/18/2008 11:01pm,
Out of curiosity (not trying to be a dick, I promise), why do you take a sword-based martial art? By which I guess I mean, what's your goal in terms of martial arts right now? Also, do you do any empty-hand stuff?

2/18/2008 11:10pm,
Not to butt in for the OP, but I study both an empty handed style and sword and I can honestly say that studying sword has made a big impact in my other art. It really helps with body awareness and control.

2/18/2008 11:12pm,
Not to butt in for the OP, but I study both an empty handed style and sword and I can honestly say that studying sword has made a big impact in my other art. It really helps with body awareness and control.

I do it because it's fun.

2/19/2008 11:53pm,
Well, it's definitely for reasons that aren't readily apparent. I KNOW I'll never get into a swordfight in a self-defense situation. Originally I was like any other guy in that I was interested in Japanese swordwork just because it was cool. I enjoyed starwars and whatnot. But that mindset really doesn't stand the test of time, and there's so much more to get out of weapons based martial arts.

Weapon training in general prepares you with a slightly different mindset than empty hand arts. When sparring empty handed, one can sometimes become comfortable with trading punch for punch... getting struck or thrown and not being permanently damaged. Obviously you can do a lot of damage open handed, and you can end a fight quickly or even kill a guy if you're fit and trained. I'm not blind... But the reality of swordfighting is that in a proper dual there are only three possible outcomes once the 'sheaths come off.' Either you kill your enemy, he kills you, or you both kill each-other. Note that 2 out of 3 possibilities are not in your favor.

I suppose what I mean to say is that with weapons arts you develop a bit more of a soldierly and serious mindset. It's less about being a tough guy and more about facing the possibility of death. It's about learning to be responsible with the power you have...

--> The tool you're using, (be it sword or spear or just the rock you're holding)....compensates for natural human limitations. You're trying extend your range, your mobility, and magnify the amount of damage you can naturally do to your opponent through extra weight, mechanical leverage, or focused edges. So at the end of the day, the weapon and the technique do the work for you. Now it becomes a thinking man's game. ...a game of chess.

There's a Chinese saying that 'a boxing master isn't a master unless he's a weapon master too. a weapon master isn't a master unless he's a boxing master too.'
--> And I think that's the heart of it. Each weapon is a different teacher, with different lessons to impart to us. At the end of the day, you should balance your training out. You can apply the principles of your weapons training to your empty hand, and vice-versa.

Haidong Gumdo is the only martial art that I'm highly ranked in. But I chose to focus on it for aesthetic reasons. I enjoy the performative and gymnastics aspects of chinese wushu.
If I was to choose another empty handed martial art to compliment this one? I'd probably go either Chinese or Japanese. But I'd want one that gave access to both weapon and empty hand training.

2/20/2008 12:07am,
Cool, thanks for sharing. I always wonder about the philosophy behind taking weapons systems today. A friend of mine told me sort of the same thing, he took Iaijitsu and said he teacher basically beat the fear of death out of him with the training, which is pretty useful in terms of swordfighting, but also nice in general life I suppose.

I think it's cool to focus on older weapons systems provided you realize their limitations and you seem to: asthetic and mental reasons are nice and realistic.

I take Tang Soo Do, and we're required to do weapons forms...personally I hate them, weapons feel very foreign in my hands and I'd rather just use my own body. So I've always wondered why someone would choose to focus on them XD

To anyone who's tried both though: does weapons practice really help empty handed fighting? Only if you spar with weapons/just the forms are enough? What are your opinions?

2/20/2008 3:14am,
A Goju ryu karate teacher that I know once made an observation...
He said that he could tell the difference between the people who had done both empty hand AND weapons from the outset, from those who had picked it up later on in their training. Some people who've taken karate for 10 years or so pick up the bo or the sword and then look really rigid and stiff. "karate with a stick" rather than proper kobudo. In contrast, the chinese shaolin and even wushu people have very fluid weapons forms simply because a lot of they time they train with weapons and empty handed in tandem right from the outset.

So as for the weapon feeling foreign in your hands.... Perhaps could that be the cause of it? Also, I've seen some people who just picked the sword up and looked like they were born with it in their hands, like it's an extension of their arms. ...and alas some people, (even with a ton of training!), still look like they're waving a stick around.
It's a tough thing to judge.

In my humble opinion...
-Downloading and watching some of the smoother MA youtube videos in slowmotion can be helpful.... Try and look at the timing of when the torso or hips move compared to the weapon.
-Try to look at the spinning motions of the weapon and try to discern where the axis around which it spins is located in space. (sometimes it spins around the handle, sometimes a spot on the arms, sometimes halfway down the haft of the blade/weapon.
-Try looking at http://www.homeofpoi.com/ , and do some of their video lessons. Many of the techniques displayed there are designed to effect efficient conservation of momentum, and the principles carry over to many martial arts styles.

As for weapons training complimenting your empty hand.... I'll get back to that in the next post. There's a quote from a book I have that says it better than I ever could. I'll go look for it.

Echo Unit
2/20/2008 11:51am,

I'm not very familiar with Korean sword arts, does your style include tamishigeri/test cutting?

2/20/2008 12:40pm,
To anyone who's tried both though: does weapons practice really help empty handed fighting? Only if you spar with weapons/just the forms are enough? What are your opinions?

In FMA there is weapons training (main) and empty handed fighting (less important), and the empty handed is heavily influenced by the strategies, logics, angles of attack and overall skills you gain while practicing with the weapons. Pangamut (filipino boxing) is very, very cool and it all comes from using the rest of the body as you would use your stick.

2/20/2008 9:09pm,
Yes, we do practic cutting in Haidong Gumdo. Newspaper, jip-dan/tameshigiri, and bamboo.

Here's a quick demo I found on youtube. There's lots of other stuff there if you care to search for it.


(That first guy looks a bit.....intense. Perhaps over the top? lol)

2/20/2008 10:07pm,
"does weapons practice really help empty handed fighting? Only if you spar with weapons/just the forms are enough?"


Ah, finally. Here it is.

This is copied from this page:

It's chapter 41 (incomplete) of "The Making of Butterfly: Traditional Chinese Martial Arts" by Philip Starr. I actually bought this book, and the info was online already, just in case anyone's hackles are raised by copywrite issues.

Chapter Forty-One
Four Weapons, Four Teachers

"Traditional Chinese martial arts involve training with various weapons as well as with the empty hands, although weaponry is not introduced until the student has acquired a substantial level of skill with the bare handed techniques and exercises. There are four primary weapons; the staff, spear, sword, and broadsword, and these weapons are learned gradually over a considerably length of time. Master Chen insisted that we train with these weapons as though we would someday use them in battle. He insisted on perfect technique and to help us better understand the combative uses of te weapon, he made us pratice two-person fighting drills.


'You're using the sword wrong' master chen said to me one day. 'What would happen if you blocked with the edge up like that in a read fight?'
'I guess it would probably chipt the cutting edge,' I answered. 'But it kept me from getting cut.'
'It might break your blade, too,' Chen warned.
He stepped back and cut down at my head again and I instinctively repeated the upward blocking movement. In a flash, his free hand swept up from under my arm.. He seized my wrist, pulled my arm over to my right, and delivered a quick slash across my abdomen. Unable to use my weapon, I was helpless.
'It will get you killed,' Chen said with a smile. He chuckled. 'You see, you must not block like that with a sword. Sword is not made for blocking. It is made for cutting. I will show you ...cut at me, please.'
I quickly advanced my front foot and whipped my sword around from the outside inward. Sifu pivoted easily on his front foot and snapped his sword up, resting the edge against my throat.
'You see? No need to block. Just cut. Try again.'
I stepped back, returning to my on-guard position. Chen just stood comfortably and watched in a rather detached manner.
Suddenly, I lunged forward, cutting down at his head. In a flash he stepped to my rear quarter with his right foot and brought the cutting edge of his blade underneath my right arm. Pivoting backward, he directed a final slash toward the back of my neck.
'See?' Chen said ecitedly, 'No block. Just cut, cut.'
He stood up and relaxed. 'This is how the sword is really used. If you study it carefuly you will see that it is how the hand is used, too. Training with weapons teaches you the very fine points of fighting without weapons. Each one teaches different ideas, each one is like a different teacher. Listen to what they tell you.'


Now, I'll admit that this story was overly cute and contrived. I think it neglects to mention that there absolutely are situations where it's better to block than NOT to block...
But what do you think? Is this anecdote relevant to the argument for how weapons training can impact empty hand training? Even mister Starr mentions that some sort of practical applications or drills outside of just the forms is necessary if you want to really know what you're doing...