What is Haidong Gumdo?
In this dynamic, fast paced art, each belt is broken down into three parts: a draw and put away, a form, and one steps. The draw and put away focuses on the unique drawing of the sword from the form and the final sheathing of the sword. The form is the main part of Gumdo, an imagined fight between one practitioner and many enemies. Unlike Gumdo’s Japanese counterpart Iaido, which focuses on one-on-one combat, Gumdo trains in a more battlefield scenario: one against many. Therefore in any given form, the practitioner “fights” five or more enemies, often two or more at a time. The one steps take portions from the form and apply them for direct combat, using either a jukdo, bamboo sword, or battle sword, a hardened plastic sword. This part of the belt is more one-on-one, demonstrating the practical aspects of the form.
There are also skills drills that hone and exhibit certain characteristics of the program.
A candle, or several candles, are lit. Using a center cut, one must stop the sword right above the wick, extinguishing it. This works on the stopping power of one’s cut, additionally working on proper acceleration and control. If a cross cut is used, it works primarily on accuracy of the cut.
Using a dull sword, the paper is placed just within cutting range. If the paper is cut cleanly, it demonstrates proper cutting area of the sword, appropriate speed, and proper extension of the cut.
Starting with the sword away, the student throws a target, about the size of a closed fist, into the air and cuts it. Depending on how equally it is cut, it shows how accurate the student is. In addition, this drill works on sword-eye coordination.
Only for high ranks or adults, a piece of bamboo is placed upright in front of the student. Using either a diagonal cut or an upper cut, the cleanness of the cut as well as the resulting angle shows if the student has proper form, distance, speed, and accurate cutting angle.
- Mukgum-Wooden practice sword, usually used to first learn new techniques.
- Battle sword-hardened plastic sword used for contact
- Jukdo-bamboo sword used for contact
- Segum/kagum- dull metal sword used to replicate the use of the scabbard as well as the cutting angle. When cut at the correct angle and speed, the sword “sings,” letting out a clean sound.