Weapons Demonstration June 2014 (KMK 7)

On Saturday 7th of June,  as I was about to fly from Dubai to London on the second stage of my summer trip from Seoul to London, my kwan were performing the first of the seasons demonstrations in downtown Daegu. The season usually begins in late May but this year because of the tragic sinking of the Sewol, in which several hundred high school students died, (they were mostly from one school), most of Korea observed a month of mourning.

In this particular demonstration, Grandmaster Seok performed a form with the guhwando (구환도). This is not a MYDBTJ weapon though there is evidence it was used in Korea. It most likely originated from China, where the pudao is identical. The final demonstration saw an inspiring sequence of bamboo and straw-sheave cutting.

 

Part of the Keom Mu Kwan Demonstration. June 7th, 2014

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Korean Sword by Nick Elwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Elementary School Traditional Korean Archery

During May, Sabeom-nim, Song-uk and I taught 11 classes in the elementary school next to our dojang. We taught traditional Korean archery (국궁) where every student got to let off at least two arrows and then did some basic work with bongs (곤봉).

Korean traditional archery ( 국궁) uses several types of bow, depending on the specific period on which it is modelled and I think that technically, ours is an asymmetrical reflex recurve bow. This type of bow isn’t unique to the Korean peninsula and most likely originated in Mongolia. It an ideal weapon on horseback. Englishmen, such as myself, seem to have been imbued with the idea that the our longbow is a vastly superior to other forms of bow with Agincourt exerting a powerful effect on our national psyche.

Despite its size and toy-like appearance, even a cheap, junior, Korean bow will power an arrow the length of a tennis court with enough froce for a non-sharp, round-headed point to embed itself in wood. Certainly, even with a junior bow, the arrow can be fired beyond the point at which you can accurately aim. I’ve never measured the distance I’ve managed to power an arrow with an adult bow but it was far enough away to make hitting the target, rather than the bullseye, the objective. And even at this relatively short distance, the arrows proximity to the bullseye is more luck than skill – at least in my case. The Korean bow is totally basic, no counter weights, sights and beginners are discouraged from wearing a thumb guard. The bowstring is drawn using the Mongolian draw method. It is also an interesting point that the bow is absent from Korean military treatise such as the Muyedobotongji and hence is not one of the ‘Royal’ weapons.

Korean traditional archery, Keom Mu Kwan

Sabeom-nim explaining the history of Korean archery

Korean traditional archery, Keom Mu Kwan

taking the strain

 

Korean traditional archery, Keom Mu Kwan

Practicing a ‘figure of eight’

Korean traditional archery, Keom Mu Kwan

Only two teachers were brave enough to have a go

 SHORT VIDEO COMPILATION OF THE SESSIONS

 

 

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Korean Sword by Nick Elwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Posing in the Dojang

Actually, we were sorting out our uniforms for public demonstrations which will start this month. Usually, the demonstration season begins in late April but this year, because of the tragic capsizing of the SV  Sewol (세월호) on the 16th of April, in which 288 people, the majority being high school students, died, many events have been cancelled throughout May.

gojeon muye, haedong gumdo

Preparing our uniforms for forthcoming demonstrations

gojeon muye, haedong gumdo

Me (Nick), Sabeom-nim (권용국 사범님), Song-uk (송욱) and Jim

gojeon muye, haedong gumdo

Song-uk

gojeon muye, haedong gumdo

Me (Nick)

gojeon muye, haedong gumdo

Jim

gojeon muye, haedong gumdo

Sharing a joke…(my favourite photo)

 

 

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Korean Sword by Nick Elwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Cutting in the Park 2 (15 May 2014)

Another session cutting bamboo in the small park opposite our dojang (15th May). This was filmed on what was the last day of spring weather. A couple of days later and the mid-morning temperature was 33 degrees. Once the monsoon season arrives in July, the weather will be at its worst. It was also on of the last sessions with Bryan who, after three months, is due to fly back to the USA.

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

Sabeom-nim

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

James working on his upward obliques

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

Cut!

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

No matter how much effort Bryan applied, he never scrunged up his face

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

Another good, effortless cut!

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

Bryan next to his father (Jim)

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

Downward oblique

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

Sabeom-nim

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

Nick – piercing thrust

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

Upward oblique

Korean sword bamboo cutting, haedong gumdo,

Running through a spear form with bong (staves)

SHORT VIDEO OF SOME OF OUR PRACTICE

 

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Korean Sword by Nick Elwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Metal Woldo Construction (월도)

Previously I wrote a post on constructing a wooden practice woldo (moon-blade – 월도, 月刀). Wol-do means ‘moon blade’ because the blade looks like almost half-moon. It has a long history in both Korea and China, where it is known as a guan-dao, and because it was a formidable weapon which took much strength to use, it often formed part of the testing requirements for promotion within the army. Indeed, high-ranking tests called for proficiency on a version weighing close to  a 100 pounds. The woldo appears in the Military Treatise, the Muyedobotongji (무예도보통지,藝武圖譜通志), published in 1795. Further, a similar Japanese weapon is the naginata. A small Korean weapon, with a narrower blade, known as the hyeop-do (협도- 挾刀), is also common in Korean classical martial arts.

The Japanese naginata

The Japanese naginata

The Korean hyeop-do (협도), similar to the chinese pu-dao

The Korean hyeop-do (협도), similar to the chinese pu-dao

In 14th-16th century Europe, a similar weapon was the glaive. Often, the woldo/guan-dao is mistakenly called a ‘halberd.’

Examples of European polearms similar to the woldo/guan-dao. The glaive is the closest.

Examples of European polearms similar to the woldo/guan-dao. The glaive is the closest.

While a wooden practice woldo is perfect for promoting muscle memory and learning the basics, the only way to truly learn the woldo is to practice with one which has a steel blade and which demands more of  your body. A heavier woldo gives a totally different experience from a wooden practice or even light metal version. With a light woldo (wooden or metal) it is the arms which power the weapon and often it is the arms which stops it. However, a heavy woldo demands much more use of waist and core muscles and once it is powered it quickly gathers a momentum. Stopping a heavy woldo in its track, as you can with a light one is not just easy, but not really the way to use the weapon. The woldo needs to travel to maximum extension, where it slows down and the rebound then used to initialize the next movement. Not only is the stance important, it needs to be strong and table enough to counter the pull of momentum, but the woldo’s weight and momentum are important tools which help control the weapon – the lighter weapon gives totally different experience.

The second woldo profiled, is live and one which I have both cut and practiced with. Surprisingly, it weights in at 2.6 kgs (5lbs 11oz).  Most of that weight is focused on the blade with very little counter balance in the butt. I have no ideas how one trains with a 25 pound woldo. 2.6 kg totally knackers me and takes a lot of effort to wield – and I’m 6’6″. However, my Sabeom can throw the same weapon around like a tooth pick has a vastly smaller physique. However, I have trained with a guan-do weighing 3kg (6lb 9 oz); the weapon was more balanced with a much less weight in the blade and much more weight in the butt. I suspect that equal weight distribution might make the weapon easier to handle – but this is only an idea, I’m not certain.

woldo, Classical Korean Weapons, gojeon muye

Metal practice woldo (adult size)
Approx 2m in length

woldo, Korean traditional martial arts,

Blade architecture

woldo, Korean classical martial arts, woldo

The guard, slightly flimsy

SECOND EXAMPLE

The following dimension, only marginally different, are from that of a ‘live blade.’ It will be noticed that the ‘live blade’ has a far superior guard and a sleeve has been added at the base of the blade along with some visible, extra welding. The former example would be just as suitable for a ‘live’ weapon.

woldo, moon blade, Korean classical martial arts,

One of my dojang’s ‘live’ woldo (moon-blades)

woldo, moon-blade, Korean classical martial arts

Blade dimensions. Only the side opposite the hooks is sharpened

woldo, moon blade, Korean classical martial arts

The guard

woldo, moon blade, Korean classical martial arts

The butt

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Korean Sword by Nick Elwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

 

Teachers’ Day

Thursday 22nd of May was Korean Teachers’ Day when students pay their respect to their teacher, academic and otherwise. Gifts can range from a piece of candy upwards. Public (State) schools often close early to allow students to visit other teachers and of course, to give teachers an afternoon off!

Haedong Gumdo, Keom Mu Kwan, Daegu

Bryan and Song-uk present Sabeom-nim with a gift.

 

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Korean Sword by Nick Elwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Korean Sword – Yedo 7-9 (예도)

Yedo (예도) is a set of 24 sequences which come from the Muyedobotongji (藝武圖譜通志 – 무예도보통지), published in 1795. Ultimately, they are practised as one form but initially, in my kwan, they are taught as individual sequences which open with a draw and close with a return. Draws and returns are not stipulated in the MYDBTJ and are chosen by dojang or kwan masters. In my dojang, the returns tend to change quite often whereas draws, largely prescribed by the initial technique, remain fairly constant.

For blogs on Yedo 1-6 go to:

Yedo 1-3

Yedo 4-6

Each sequence is named after the position it employs. All Yedo sequences start from, and end in the open ready stance (junbi seogi – 준비 서기). Each sequence is announced. A kihap (기합) is made at the apex of the draw. Each sequence, after the final technique, is quitted in a similar fashion by shifting into the middle guarding position (중단셰) with the right foot leading.

Yedo 7. Yo Yak Sae (요약세)

Yedo, 예도

The position Yo Yak Sae (요약세)

Yedo 7 begins with a low to high (ha-sang baldo – 하상 발도) draw but it does not stop at the usual apex, but continues straight down into the Yo Yak Sae position. The kihap (기합 – 氣合) is at this point. The face turns to look at the sword and there is a three-second pause.  Note on drawing, the kaljip (칼집) is turned marginally to align it with the angle of the draw – marginally clockwise.

The first cut is a left, upward oblique followed by a piercing thrust (찌르기 – jjireugi) leading straight into a hwi du reugi (휘두르기). Hwi du reugi is a ‘clearing sweep’ rather than an attack and is designed to move an opponent back by means of a ‘big’, threatening gesture. 휘두르다 – means to flourish, brandish,  and 휘두르기 means, ‘flourishing’. All three techniques follow in swift succession and the ‘clearing sweep’ (right) continues into  a spin followed by a punch. When the punch is established the left and right arms form 90 degrees (12 0’clock – 3 o’clock) The return is via ‘cheug ha dae gak kama bburigi napdo’ (즉하대각감아뿌리기 납도). ‘Cheug ha‘ (즉하) means ‘outside-low.’ Koreans are fond of shortening words or combining morpehemes and ‘cheug ha dae gak’ is often simply called, ‘dae gak napdo,’ ie. ’45 degree angle draw. It is used in both a fixed back stance (측하대각) or front stance (정면대각 – the ‘측하’ is omitted here because in front stance the sword position is not ‘outside.) The ‘gama‘ (감아) element is from the verb 감다, (kamda), ‘to furl the sword in a big sweeping movement. ‘Bburigi’ (뿌리다 – bburida) means ‘to sparge, whip or wipe-off’ the blade. Be careful with the furl because the sword can come fairly close to the right ear!

Yedo 8. Eo Geo Sae (어거세)

Yedo, haedong gumdo, 예도

The position Eo Geo Sae (어거세)

Eo Geo Sae opens with the usual low to high draw (하상발도). The sword is brought slowly down over the left shoulder while stepping forward. The kodeungi (코등이) should be level with the ear. The sword and torso then dip forward into the position Eo Geo Sae (어거세). A thrusting pierce and right downward oblique follow is quick succession and then, with sword guards (코등이 – kodeungi) locked together, kodeungi ssa-un mil-gi (코등이 싸운 밀기) is employed. Timing here is important. First, the hands thrust forward, pushing the opponent backwards, then, the body springs back while performing a left, downward oblique. The push and jump are not simultaneous!

Kodeungi locked together.  코등이 싸운 밀기 (kodeungi ssa-un mil-gi)

Kodeungi locked together.
코등이 싸운 밀기 (kodeungi ssa-un mil-gi)

Kodeungi locked

Kodeungi locked

Push opponent's sword back and up, shift body weight onto rear leg...

Push opponent’s sword back and up, shift body weight onto rear leg…

and spring back off the right leg...

and spring back off the right leg…

Land in a wide stance 0 between front and fixed back, with a lewft, downward oblique.

Land in a wide stance  between front and fixed back, with a left, downward oblique.

The return is via cheong myeon dae gak with an attached twirl and furl in the form of hwi-dollyeo gamgi (휘돌려감기). The complete name is thus, cheong myeon dae gak hwi-dollyeo gamgi napdo (정면 대각 휘돌려 감기 납도 – front, 45 degree angle, forward twirl and furling return). Keep the returning sword clear of the lead leg.

Yedo 9. Jeon Gi Sae (전기세)

haedong gumdo, yedo, 예도

The position Jeon Gi Sae (전기세)

The sequence begins with low-high draw (하상발도 – ha-sang baldo), with kihap (기합). The sword is then slowly brought into the Jeon Gi Sae (전기세) position without changing stance. The sword-spine rests between crux of elbow and side of shoulder. Two attacks now follow to the opponent’s neck (neck stroke – 목치기 – mok-chigi). Both are to the side of the opponent. First, the lead foot positions to the right and the left foot follows up behind it – cut. Then the left foot shifts across and forward to the left and the right foot moves across and to the rear – cut.  The neck cut is simultaneous with the second part of each footwork. The body moves forward, stepping forward with the right leg but the chest remains facing 3 o’clock. The left foot follows up and a piercing thrust in front stance, is delivered. This technique is best seen watching the video. The stepping style, characteristic of the MYDBTJ, is often noted in Chinese systems.

The return is via the right knee (오른무릎납도 – o-reun (우-u) mu-reup napdo)  which means stepping back, LRL, from the middle guarding position (중단세 – jung dan sae).

Video of Yedo, 7, 8 and 9.

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Korean Sword by Nick Elwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.