kumdo photo

Kumdo is a martial art that deals exclusively with sword work. This area of study use both sparring and forms (hyung) to help the student understand this traditional weapon. Korean Kumdo is closely linked with Japanese Kendo, and practitioners of both styles often compete in the same tournaments. Sparring emphasizes awareness, acute observation, and perserverance along with controlled, quick, and precise movements in such a way that allows anyone of any age, size, or gender to be competitive with anyone else. Timing and skill are key to all martial arts, but are epitomized in Kumdo study.

kendo students in close quarters

The History of Kumdo starts in the Three Kingdoms period. Sword study had been brought to Korea through China and each of the militaries in Korea began to refine and reinterprete these techniques. During this period, the text Bonguk Geombup was authored. This text illustrated Korean two-handed sword technique. While it is a topic that is under some nationalistic contention, many argue that this text along with the philosophical beliefs of ancient Korean warriors like the Hwarang greatly influenced early Japanese sword study. In any case, the Japanese further refined sword technique along with sword making. The Japanese brought their sword study, then called Gekiken, to Korea to be taught to their police force around 1896.

group of kumdo students in armor


In 1910, much of Korea was annexed by Japan and the occupying force began suppressing native Korean history and culture. The name Kumdo was coined around this time in Korea and was applied instead of Gekiken. Kumdo begins growing in popularity in Korea during the occupation along with the study of foriegn as well as native martial arts - the later being something that was done in secret. In 1945, Korea regained its independence from Japan. During this time, Korea began making an effort to reassemble the suppressed parts of their history while still keeping the positive influences the Japanese had made. Kumdo still continues to grow in interest both in Korea and worldwide.

The Korean Kumdo Federation, founded by Grand Master H.W. Kim, can be found here.




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