Up Kumdo Curriculum


The history of Korean sword is a history of many influences pressed upon Korean martial traditions over a great many years. The original sword work of the people of the Steppe was later heavily modified by warfare against incursions from the north as well as cultural exchanges with Koreas' "elder brother", China. In addition to the influence of China, Korea also experienced considerable influence from Japan both in war and in peace. Perhaps the single greatest influence came during the early portion of the 20th Century when Japan imposed its own culture on that of Korea in an effort to establish its dominance in Asia. Regarding sword work in particular, the Japanese brought the Kendo of the Butokukai to Korea in 1896, the police sword in 1896 and the military sword training of the Japanese Army during the 1930-s. Combined with proscriptions against the practice of Korean sword, the influence of these sword methods came to dominate Korean sword work especially in the more urban settings. Away from urban centers people still found opportunity to train in old traditions or used Japanese traditions as a cover for practicing Korean traditions. In this way Korean traditions continued to survive though not without some impact of Japanese methods on Korean form. With the end of the Second World War 6 individuals came together to organize a Korean sword organization that would lend structure to their study. In time this group developed into the Korean branch of the International Kendo Federation. So strong was the influence of this organization that even today more than 90% of the practitioners of Korean Kumdo practice according to the methods and guidelines of the Japanese tradition. In this way there remain only a limited number of individuals who continue to train in Korean traditions and according to the code of the Korean warrior.