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Han Mu Do: A Unique Art Form

Han Mu Do is a martial arts form that was founded in its most current form by Dr. He-Young Kimm. The martial arts form is mainly comprised of empty hand techniques and the studies involved, the use of weapons and the studies involved, the study of ki, and the general philosophy of martial arts and the studies involved. Han Mu Do is perhaps best known for its seamless integration of many different popular Korean martial art styles. If you are interested in a modern, effective, satisfying martial arts experience, Han Mu Do may be the best option for you; it successfully combines a wide variety of new methods and modern techniques into a single and well-organized system of martial arts.


History: The Global Spread

This martial arts form went through an evolution of several different names. It was first known by Yuh Kwon Sul in the early 1950s, which can be translated to mean “art of throwing and punching.” The second name was preferred by a certain Ji Han Jae, which emphasized the Korean roots of this martial art form: “Korean martial art of throwing and punching.” Interestingly, several groups of people believed that the title Han Mu Do should not include the “Mu,” since it could be translated as meaning “martial arts,” which could be demeaning toward a program such as ki training which was considered to be far more than simply a martial arts training program. To these ki training enthusiasts, the system was referred to as Han Do, which simply means “Korean Methodology.” The final name choice, and the one that is used primarily during present day, was designated in 1991 when Dr. He-Young Kimm began calling the art form Han Mu Do.


Although this martial art form originated in Korea, it has spread throughout the years on an international scale due to growing popularity. Han Mu Do is practiced in many places all over the globe: Singapore, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Australia, France, and many other notable locations.


The history of Han Mu Do is the story of a martial art form developed over time into a successful practice that many know and love today. If you are interested in learning more about the rich history of Korean martial arts, take a little time to do some extra research. There are many resources available, which you may find of interest. Books, articles, online content, and tapes are all great sources of information about Han Mu Do and any other martial art form you may be interested in. Ask a librarian or bookstore manager for help locating a book that will help you delve more deeply into the rich history of Korean martial arts. An old quote once said that knowledge is power, and we cannot help but agree with that concept when it comes to martial arts – both practical applications and history. Swords are a big part of this martial art. 


Techniques: The Gentle Art

The Korean art form known as Han Mu Do is very closely related to the martial art known as Hapkido. Han Mu Do is considered slightly less violent and aggressive than its cousin Hapkido, because it follows a set of guidelines that are found in what is commonly referred to today as Korean Tai Chi. There are many examples that could illustrate the difference in aggression between these Hapkido and Han Mu Do. For instance, a powerful lock-taking place during a match of Hapkido is typically concluded with a rapid “throw,” or forward motion, that is meant to cast an opponent to the ground hard and fast. However, in Han Mu Do, a different action is used consisting of a downward pull meant to bring an opponent into subjection with a far gentler series of moves.


If you are a martial arts enthusiast you may find yourself slightly doubtful that an art form considered “gentle” could be an effective method of self-defense and protection. Interestingly, the fact that this martial art form is gentle is one of the primary reasons for its superiority over many other martial art forms. The gentle nature of this martial art allows students to use a variety of other sophisticated techniques that would not be possible in a more aggressive form of a martial arts system.


Han Mu Do is also characterized by a unique series of hand movements and specific hand techniques that are referred to as “open hand” techniques. This series of techniques is largely influenced by many other significant martial art forms such as Sun Mu Do, Kuk Sul, Taekwondo, Han Tae Geuk, Shippalgi, Sun Do, and Tang Soo Do. Within these hand techniques there are strikes that are considered both hard and soft. Han Mu Do strikes are considered primarily soft because the strikes are administered with an open palm instead of a fist. This is another key characteristic that differentiates this martial art from other similar martial art forms, such as the art’s close relative Hapkido.


Ki Training

Ki training in Han Mu Do follows a set of fairly simple guidelines. Students practicing Han Mu Do Ki as a system of training often begin by resting on the floor and slowly moving to a position of sitting up and then, ultimately, standing up. The final position used in the training sequence is a moving form of meditation in which students focus their energy on creating a unity between the mind and body, as is common among martial art forms. This moving meditation is very unique among other martial art forms. Most martial art forms consist of ki training that is very set in a certain position such as standing or sitting; the fixed nature of most meditation techniques is common, which points again to Han Mu Do’s unique and one-of-a-kind qualities as a martial art form.



Han Mu Do students begin to use weapons very early on in their training, which is not typical in practices such as Hapkido in which weapon training is incorporated during the final stages of a student’s academic process and when the student has reached an advanced skill level. A Han Mu Do student may begin using a weapon in the first few lessons because this martial art form stems from a fighting style military manual known as the Muyedobotongji, an ancient manual dating from some time in the Joseon Dynasty. This particular form of combat is focused on fluidity and continuity as the student learns to think of his or her weapon as an extension of his or her body. Since the weapon techniques used in Han Mu Do often follow a logical and seamless sequence, the weapon techniques are often simple to enact and can be remembered with relative ease since each move naturally flows into a different move. Since other martial art forms use sequences and techniques that are based on situational events, it can be very difficult for students of those martial arts to remember the order of the moves and which moves are to be used when. Han Mu Do presents an ideal technique, which can be used in any environment and in a wide variety of situations.



Han Mu Do locks are considered a form of “joint lock,” a concept that is heavily influenced by martial art forms such as Kuk Sul and the aforementioned Hapkido. The radius of each of these original martial art forms’ joint locks vary in size. Typically, Hapkido makes use of a relatively small lock circle, whereas Kuk Sul utilizes a far larger lock circle as is typical in martial art forms such as Wushu. Han Mu Do transcends these limitations by applying both large and small joint lock circle styles depending on the given environment, opponent skill level, and overall situational details.



While many martial art forms may call for a mind and body connection, Han Mu Do calls for a far more disciplined version of this philosophy. During the exercises of this martial art system, students are expected to “yell” in their minds, a concept known as kihap. This may sound a little strange, but after further investigation you will find that it makes complete sense. Each of the moves in Han Mu Do are supposed to be completed with fluidity. If a student’s mind is wandering or set on other things as he or she practices the move sequences, he or she may experience an inferior martial arts experience and a decrease in overall effectiveness of moves. Therefore, when a martial artist trains his or her mind to focus on a single phrase with each move, his or her mind remains firmly set on the task at hand and the moves become something of an “auto pilot” experience for students.


One of the key characteristics of Han Mu Do training is that of character development. This ancient system may stem from an ancient Korean art form known as Sun Bi, which was practiced by the Korean warriors of old. Patience, respect, kindness, and a general chivalrous outlook are expected of advanced students. Interestingly, other aspects of Han Mu Do training include penmanship and swordsmanship as branches of character development. Students of this martial art form are generally very well-educated, intelligent, and highly-trained about the use of weaponry. Since many Han Mu Do students continue to learn as many as two other martial art forms upon achieving their black belts, many of these students have a well-rounded education in martial arts techniques that is unique among martial arts students. This opens student minds to a broader view, as opposed to the “tunnel vision” knowledge of other martial art form students.


If you have any other questions about the practice of Han Mu Do, contact a school near you. You may be surprised at how greatly this unique martial art form impacts you both mentally and physically.