About Haidong Gumdo

The Philosophy of Haidong Gumdo

The essence of Haidong Gumdo is in Shimgum: a concept that implies a technical mastery of the sword that transcends technical limitations. One can be technically perfect but not achieve Shimgum. Conversely, one may be technically imperfect and still achieve Shimgum.

The term Shimgum refers to the unification of the mind, body and spirit. This principle is expressed through the use of the sword and enhanced by breathing and meditation techniques that help to clear the practitioner’s mind and concentrate their energy.

Unlike most sword-based martial arts, haidong gumdo is based on a single swordsman facing many opponents.

The Haidong Gumdo pledge

As a descendent of the Samurang, who represented honour and confidence, I will seek truth and turn my back on untruth, I will cultivate body and soul in continuous training and keep the spirit of Loyalty, Filial Piety, Propriety and Justice deep in my heart so that I may contribute to the welfare of all people. This is the way of Haidong Gumdo.

The Practice of Haidong Gumdo

The modern practice of haidong gumdo covers a variety of sword-based activities including:

  • Sparring against one or more opponents, incorporating a variety of movements and sword strikes. Sparring may be choreographed or may be “free” or unchoreographed.
  • Patterns of movement, or poomsae, are practised as part of preparing for belt and dan gradings. These patterns prepare students for the more technical activities that require mastery of the sword, strength, balance and control.
  • Bamboo cutting that applies the sword strikes learned in poomsae as students attempt to cut lengths of bamboo using perfectly-angled strikes. Advanced students are required to cut one or more lengths of bamboo using prescribed cutting techniques and are judged on the accuracy of each cut.
  • Paper cutting that teaches students to use the sword with finesse rather than brute strength to slice sheets of specially marked paper suspended from a cutting frame or line. Students are judged on the accuracy of each cut.
  • Candle snuffing that teaches students to exercise fine control over their sword strikes as they attempt to extinguish one or more candles without striking the candle wick.
  • Sword dancing performed by an individual or a group of dancers in a choreographed performance that build on the innate strength, elegance and grace of the swordsmen’s movements.

Breathing and meditation are also part of haidong gumdo training and help students to remain calm and focused.

Above all, Haidong Gumdo teaches its exponents strength, discipline and respect for themselves and others.


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