Korean martial arts
refer to any and all of the various martial arts that originated or were
modified in Korea.
There have been many times during my warrior martial art journey that I have had an opportunity to train with other korean martial artists.
During the 1980's the korean martial style of Tae kwon do began to rise in popularity, at that time I reconized some of the similarities to karate which I had trained in as a young boy.
The first time I had intimate contact with a korean art was in the late 80's, when a one of my high school buddies began studying hapkido while he was attending Georgia Tech.
Tae kwon do was the first korean martial art that I studied. It was only for a short time when I attended college in Tampa, Fl.
Many Korean martial arts are cousin to japanese martial arts. As such it has never been difficult for me to traverse the korean arts.
In most western countries, Tae kwon do and Hapkido are by far the most well known korean martial arts.
Yet, there has been an ever-increasing intrest in the korean warrior arts of old and there have been many schools
rising from obscurity. For instance,
the Korean martial arts have seen
a revival of korean sword arts and korean swordsmanship, which has helped to peak an interest in Korean knives and korean knife fighting.
This intrest in the korean weapon arts has also prompted a small
revival of korean archery, both on foot and on horse-back.
The complexity of the
Korean martial training arts world and its ever-increasing schools
rising from obscurity make for very interesting study.
Korean Martial Teaching methods
The Korean martial
training arts are often taught in a similar method of
Japanese martial arts. For example..
training with uniforms
executing techniques simultaneously
showing respect to the founder by bowing to
Many Korean martial arts also make use
colored belts to denote rank
tests and testing fees to increase in
and the use of Korean titles when denoting the teacher
Kwanjangnim: training hall owner/master
Dojunim: keeper of the way
Many schools also make use of Korean terminology and numbers during practice.
Styles of Korean martial arts
Traditional Korean Warrior Arts
a few martial arts practiced in Korea today can accurately trace their lineage and
be considered an unbroken, living traditonal traditional Korean martial style.
Some claim that, because of neo-confucianism, disinterest
in martial training and Japanese occupation of Korea, that many of Korea's
traditional arts have disappeared with time, leaving behind only records,
names, and sometimes bits and pieces of the old warrior arts themselves.
A few arts
have, however, managed to survive more-or-less complete and are still
being practiced today.
Taekgyeon - a martial art featuring kicks, sweeps, and strikes
Ssireum - Korean wrestling, similar in some ways to Mongolian wrestling.
Gongsul - Korean archery, making use of a traditional composite horn bow
Sonmudo/Bulmudo - passed down by the Buddhist temples and mostly preserved until today
Charyuk - a practice similar to Chinese hard Qigong, but extremely rare (possibly extinct)
Subyukchigi - a kung fu-like art that has a prayer-like stance, but extremely rare (possibly extinct)
Imported Korean martial training arts
martial arts that are currently practiced today in Korea were
originally imported during the Japanese Occupation of Korea through
Japanese-style schools and by Koreans who studied in mainland Japan.
These arts were often modified in Korea, adding native techniques or
forms, and have often become greatly different from the original
Japanese martial arts.
Here are some korean martial arts with their influencing styles:
Yudo - the Korean system of Judo, is a combination of the Japanese emphasis on technique and the European style of power fighting
Kumdo (also called Gumdo) - Imported Kendo, with an additional form, not to be confused with Haidong Gumdo which is a Korean sword fighting style.
I recently found a few dvd's that featuring Korean Sword Arts of Kumdo, as well as other Korean sword arts.
- Imported Tang Dynasty Martial art literally meaning the Tang fighting
way. Also related to Japanese Karatedo which was Japanese version of
Tang Martial art.
Taekwondo - Originally imported karate as well, but many kicks were added, and other techniques and forms were changed
In the Beginner Taekwondo DVD, Master Sang H. Kim takes the new student step by step through the essential information that all beginning taekwondo students should know
Watch a preview of this Taekwondo video FREE and access other Tae kwon do videos from Amazon's Video on Demand, your can even download for a low fee. Individual downloads are available for $1.99-$3.99 for a 7-day viewing period.
Soobahkdo - Originally similar to imported Tang dynasty Martial art,
but influenced by the Korean martial arts book Mooyedobotongji and
Hapkido - Imported Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu, but many kicks, acrobatics, and traditional Korean techniques and weapons were added
Looking for Hopkido DVD's? Well click the Hapkido Dvd link and check 2 full pages of choices
Kwonbup - Imported Chinese martial arts of unknown origin, probably no longer practiced on its own
Korean martial training arts with more than one influence
Korean arts have been influenced by both traditional and
imported Korean martial arts, while some have also relied on the
Mooyedobotongji or other old manuals to recreate lost arts, much like
in European martial arts.
There are also many Korean martial arts that
are recompilizations or reorganizations of techniques from traditional
or imported arts.
Many of the arts here visually appear to have more of
a Chinese influence than other Korean martial arts (except for
Taekgyeon). Others have been influenced by boxing and other Western martial artsl.
Shippalgi - Chinese-like style with many weapons
Kuk Sool Won - similar to Hapkido and Kung Fu, with a lot of weapons training
Hwa Rang Do - similar to Hapkido
Han Mu Do - similar to Hapkido
Choson Sebup - a sword style
Haedong Gumdo - similar to Kendo, w/different methods and longer swords
Gwongyukdo - Korean kickboxing
Lost traditional Korean arts
Other arts have not survived to the present age, but survive in name through different korean documents.
Soobak - an old word for martial arts also used in China
Yusul - an old word for certains arts that may have been the origins for Japanese jujutsu (Alternatively, this word is sometimes used to refer to Japanese jujutsu.)
Newly formed Korean martial training arts
from the newer imported martial arts there are also martial arts that
have been created from these, without any discernable outside influence
(at least as far as martial arts are concerned).
In a way, these can be
considered a 'new' original Korean style, though their roots can be
traced to foreign imports via their forefathers.
Kwang-Do - Though formally created within the United States, Choi Kwang
Do considers itself a Korean martial art through its founder. It also uses
Korean symbols, traditions, and terms.
Other Korean Martial Arts Resources
The Learn Korean Language website teaches the history, philosophy, benefits, and language of Korean taekwondo. Without this knowledge, a true understanding of the art could not be attained.