View Full Version : Haidong Gumdo

2/24/2004 9:52pm,
Bullshido masters:
The other day I was training, when I noted that there where some guys dressed in red kendo armor. It turned out to be that they were practitioners of Haidong Gumdo, a Korean form of Kendo (They told me that Gumdo is Kendo in Korean, but Japanese Kendo is called Kumdo).
That's all very good and nice, however, they started to rattle of the history of the art. They said that it has no relation to Japanese Kendo, and was used in Korea by the "Samurang" class...
It seems awfully like Kendo to me, with an Iaido component, test cutting, etc.

I searched the Web and found the following:

What's the story? Did the samurang really exists, and it's a case of at least some parallel development, or, as Occam would said, the buggers nicked it?

2/24/2004 10:11pm,
i've seen them before. my impression is that they're a historical reconstruction martial art with roots in iaido and kendo/kenjutsu. they try to add in twisting and spinning techniques from "chinese martial arts," but they do it poorly. it's mostly iaido and tameshigiri with a korean twist.

all that history stuff is garage, we've gone over it a million times with TKD already.

2/24/2004 10:12pm,
Remember "official" history of Taekwondo?
Same applies.

2/24/2004 10:37pm,
It was just as I thought...
Jen, that's an incredible accurate description! :-)

2/25/2004 8:16am,
It is fairly clear that Haidong Gumdo is not an ancient art, but a few notes on above comments.

Yes, Gumdo means "Kendo" in Japanese. Koreans often times aspirate the first consonant of a beginning syllable, so, a word that sounds like "kom" may actually be spelled like "gom" in 'hangul', so when written in English, you will see several variations on the spelling. "Kom, Gom, Kum, Gum, Geom", etc. Gum = Ken (japanese) = 'jian4' (Mandarin) = sword. There is no way to have a 1-1 correspondence between Korean vowels and syllables and our alphabet, because Korean contains FAR more of each. So many different ways to write Korean words can still be seen as "correct".

For its history, there is no way in hell it is directly decended from Samurang warriors. There is quite a bit to the system, but many of the techniques can be found in an old Korean martial arts manual called the "Muye Dobo Tonji" (http://www.turtlepress.com/browseproducts/Muye-Dobo-Tongji--The-Comprehensive-Illustrated-Manual--of-Martial-Arts-of-Ancient-Korea.HTML). I have heard several conflicting versions of its 'history', and I have no way of independantly verifying any one of them.

The sword used in practice, as well as the dress, is clearly more related to the Japanese Kendo than anything of Korean origin, but the techniques are a blend of both Japanese and Chinese sword techniques. But most all Korean martial art is like that, so why anyone would be suprised is beyond me. However, I will say part of that is simple availability. The first set of forms that is taught in HDGD is called 'ssang su gum bup', which means "two hand sword method". The next one is "yedo gum bub", which is based on using a short sword. In each of these forms, the strategies and techniques and weapons get alterations. But probably for the simple fact that the Japanese wooden sword and bamboo sword are easily available, and quite cheap, all forms and sparring are practiced with the japanese style practice weapons.

Is it 2000 years old, no way. Is it related to Japanese martial arts, of course. Are their techniques really in a book published in 1789? Yes, but of course, look for it yourself.

I wouldn't go so far as to call it bullshido though. The practitioners practice their cuts with real swords, they spar, and they work out harder than almost every other style I have seen. The history is CLEARLY cooked, if they claim it is 2000 years old, but honestly, this is par for the course in many Asian martial arts "official" histories. For more history, I will include a write up on Geomdo from www.geomdo.org below.

2/25/2004 8:19am,
From www.geomdo.org, go to articles, then "The Origins of Haedong Kumdo"

The Origins of Hankuk Haedong Kumdo

<Note: on second thought, I have e-mailed the author and asked for permission to post this in-line here. You can still navigate to the article using the directions at the top of this post>

2/25/2004 8:20am,
< awaiting permission from the author to post, see above post for location on web >

2/25/2004 10:37am,
There are two seperate styles of Kumdo in Korea. One is called Daehan Kumdo (Korean Way of the Sword) This is the system that is a reflection of the Japanese Kendo, perhaps a bit different in the 2 man forms and long forms. However, the sparring and concept is the same. The second popular one is the Haidong Kumdo. Now this system emphasizes more cutting and drawing of the sword. This is supposed to be a more traditional Korean sword art however, you will not find much past 1970's about it. The flow of the forms is very similar to that of a Chinese broadsword.

Now considering that Korean arts stem a lot for Chinese culture, this has a lot more visual proof of being more indingenous than that of the Daehan Kumdo (note: visually yes, documented facts no). Like most Korean arts, there is very little documentation of it. So we will really never know for sure.