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Methods of Haidong Gumdo

Haidong Gumdo is the Korean term for a martial art form that can be translated to mean “Korean way of the sword.” This method of martial arts quickly sprang into existence during a fine April in the year 1983, making it one of the most recent martial art forms. Haidong Gumdo quickly grew in popularity and is now practiced in countries all around the world, including the United States, Canada, Spain, Japan, China, Germany, Mexico, and Australia. In fact, there are more than 2,000 schools teaching the practice of Haidong Gumdo in Korea alone with over 500 dojangs planted throughout a global scene. Many people consider this recent and popular martial arts phenomenon a reconstruction of more historical martial art forms, and it is now one of the key players in the large community of Korean martial arts.



Haidong Gumdo curriculum was influenced by many versions of martial art forms, but is most readily associated with the Japanese art forms of Kenjutsu, Battodo, and Laido. The weapon of choice for Haidong Gumdo is the two-hand sabre, which is referred to as Ssangsoodo; this weapon is very similar to the Katana of Japan. Sword methodology and sword techniques are very similar to typical Laido sword techniques, because the two share very similar methods of drawing weapons and returning weapons to the sheath.


Curriculum content also covers a wide variety of psychological exercises, which center on the healthy interaction of the mind and body. Many Haidong Gumdo masters teach their students to master breathing exercises and a variety of other helpful habits that serve to strengthen both the mind and body. If you are interested in a martial art form that includes overall health-improving methodologies, then Haidong Gumdo may be the perfect martial art form choice for you. If you are interested in learning more about the health benefits associated with this martial art system, read the information located beneath the “philosophy” header below.



Haidong Gumdo disciplines include a ranking within the Haidong Gumdo martial arts system. If you are familiar with martial arts at all, you are aware that many kinds of Korean and Japanese martial art forms rank martial artists according to their skill level. As is the case with most of these Korean and Japanese martial art forms, skill level is indicated by the color of the martial artist’s belt. It is also important for Haidong Gumdo students to wear the appropriate training attire. Students who sign up for classes often wear a keikogi accompanied by a hakama.



The weapons used in this martial art form are varied depending on the type of practice taking place. The mokgum, translated as “wooden sword,” is commonly used during basic practice and training sessions. Wooden swords and other non-lethal weapons allow individuals to practice martial arts without putting themselves or others at risk, as is the case when sharpened objects are used during practice and training sessions. Plastic or rubber swords may also be utilized during training or practice sessions in order to ensure the safety of those involved. Many schools also encourage students to wear a great deal of padding, protective clothing, and even light forms of body armor.




Before learning the techniques used during Haidong Gumdo, it is important to differentiate between this martial art form and its very similar brother art form, Hae Dong Kumdo. The techniques utilized within these two martial art forms are very different. Haidong Gumdo highlights the importance of Korean combat techniques; those who practice this art form consider a combat style to be far more important than the style used for competition or athletic purposes.


The basic techniques utilized during a Haidong Gumdo can be found in a listing located within the Bonguk Geombeop (translated as “Korean sword method”), which identifies a variety of methods along with weapon use. In order to give you an idea of the practices taught within Haidong Gumdo curriculum styles, we have compiled a brief list of common Haidong Gumdo techniques. Remember that this list is not comprehensive, but simply covers some of the most common techniques:


      Ssangsu Geombeop. This method involves the use of a two-handed sword, or a sword with a large enough hilt for a person to grasp it with both hands.

      Simsang Geombeop. This method involves what is commonly referred to as the “heart” of swordsmanship. This technique focuses less on physical strength and intense combat in order to more fully understand the interaction between the healthy human body and healthy human mind.

      Ssanggeom Geombeop. This method involves the use of two swords wielded simultaneously. We think this is one of the most impressive forms of swordsmanship, and you can easily see why. Take a moment to imagine a strong and well-trained martial artist approaching you with a sword in each hand and a look in his or her eye that says, “I know what I’m doing.” Would you mess with a person like that? Doubtful.

      Yedo Geombeop. This method involves the use of a small sword known as the short sword. While using the short sword may have forced opponents to fight at a closer range, it also allowed users to fight with more fluidity, dexterity, and agility. Since short swords are smaller they weigh far less, making them an ideal weapon for an individual who values a great deal of footwork during a martial arts match.

      Jedok Geombeop. This method is literally translated “Admiral’s sword method.”

      Jangbaek Geombeop. This method is literally translated as “The Jangbaek Method.”

      Wae Geombeop. This term refers to the methodology used by Japanese martial artists.

      Wuisu Geombeop. This method involves using one sword during combat. A good martial artist knows how to operate at a high level of efficiency with only a single weapon.


Haidong Gumdo can essentially be described as a martial art form involving the use of techniques that express a variety of different sword strikes in response to each sword strike put forth by an opposing unit. The Japanese and Korean techniques vary in that Japanese practitioners focus their energy on individual combat (one-to-one matches) and Korean practitioners focus their energy on battle-ready combat (one-to-multiple matches).



The philosophy behind Haidong Gumdo is somewhat complex, but it is well worth learning about - especially if you are a beginner when it comes to martial arts and hand-to-hand combat. The main concept of Haidong Gumdo is referred to as shimgum, which is quite similar to a Spanish concept discovered by Garcia Lorca, a famous poet during his time. The Spanish concept, duende, and the concept of shimgum are centered on several key aspects. Shimgum most importantly focuses on the unifying of all body parts. This unification includes a combination of the intellect, physical body, and inner spirit. According to Haidong Gumdo experts, these aspects, when unified, portray a single expression when a skilled individual begins wielding his or her sword during a Haidong Gumdo match.


Obviously, a technical understanding of sword use and the mastering of different sword techniques are important to learn and practice if you are interested in becoming an avid martial artist. However, seasoned students of Haidong Gumdo are aware that technicalities and methods are somewhat limited; even if you have perfect technical skill and a sweeping knowledge of methodology, you may still fall short of achieving the much-revered shimgum way of life. Shimgum is the aspect of Haidong Gumdo that qualifies it as a martial art. Without the shimgum way of thinking and living, Haidong Gumdo would simply be another military science. Thankfully, Haidong Gumdo is far more than a military science: it is an art form all of its own.


How To Learn

If you are interested in learning more about the Haidong Gumdo martial art system of thought and self-defense, try locating a reputable martial art school near your location. Even if there are no schools nearby, it may benefit you to contact a reputable school via phone or email. You can then inquire about any questions you may have concerning the martial art form you are interested in and the policies of the school in question. If you are not yet sure if Haidong Gumdo is the martial art system for you, try looking into other resources such as books, tapes, and online articles. These resources are easily accessed via a bookstore or public library. The time it takes to learn about this popular martial art form is a small price to pay for a martial art form that may potentially shape your life for the better.


After doing a little research, it is time for you to sign up for your very first class. There is no need to be shy; many martial art teachers are extremely welcoming toward newcomers of every age, skill level, and fitness level. Pick up your uniform and prepare for an experience that is both enriching and satisfying. You may be surprised at how easily you can pick up the new art form and how comfortable you feel in the Haidong Gumdo community.

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