Native Sword

Up Method 1 Method 2 Method 3 Method 4



"Native Sword Methods" (K. BON KUK GEUM BEOP - 본국검법) is first identified in Korean legends of the Kingdom of Silla, one of the domains comprising the "The Three Kingdoms" Period. The YUJI SUNGNAM relates a story of a seven-year-old boy from the Silla Kingdom who traveled across the Kingdom of Paekshe, demonstrating his "sword dance" (K. GUMMU) and drawing large crowds. However, when finally summoned to perform his dance before the king, the boy ended his dance by plunging his sword into the king, killing him, and was, in turn, cut-down by the king's retainers. In honor of the young boy's sacrifice, the Silla people created a masked sword dance resembling the boy's face. As with all legends, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. The earliest written account of the sword methods is found in the encyclopedic work "Army Account of Military Arts and Science" (Hanzi: 武備志; Pinyin: Wu Bči Zhě), written in 1629 by Mao Yuan-yi. In his work Mao identifies Korean fencing (朝鮮勢法; Cháoxiǎn shěfǎ) as a series of sword methods originating from the area of Korea. These methods, identified only as "Native Sword Methods" (K. BON KUK GEUM BEOP - 본국검법) had, according to Mao, been been brought to China during a time when Chinese sword work had declined and were ascribed to about the 9th Century. Owing to the limited use of a two-handed saber both in the Chinese and Korean Military history it may be reasonable to conclude that the original execution of this material was intended for a single-handed saber. It is also plain from the variety of footwork that these methods are intended for one who is dismounted rather than mounted. Both conditions would certainly be consistent with movements of "sword dance" in which acrobatics, including jumping, spinning, turning and rolling would only be impaired by having to grip a sword with both hands while mounted on a horse. However, it has become culturally acceptable to execute the sword methods, in sequence, using a two-handed saber so forming a kind of HYUNG, or "form" after the fashion of other Martial Arts. Frankly, this is where the trouble starts. The impact of Western thought and Western technology on East Asian culture extends to the use of Scientific Method and Western Pedagogy in Education. The single best examples of this were the adaptation of Jiu-Jutsu by Kano Jigoro and Karate by Funakoshi Gichin to general use by the population, especially in Educational settings. These efforts to improve Japanese Education with the adoption of a "scientific approach" set a pattern for abandoning earlier educational methods. In later times, individuals who sought to practice traditions of the past attempted to interpret instruction using modern models and were confounded in their efforts. The practices of the past can only be understood and preserved if one is willing to examine these practices as they were understood and practiced in the past. To this end you will notice that on this website, "Kumdo", the Korean sword sport is separated from Korean sword method. In turn, the modern method of practicing sword has been separated from from the older, traditional manner of learning sword use. Where the difference between sport and combat are rather apparent,  what separates modern sword from traditional sword is a bit less obvious save for three telling differences.

a.) Modern sword tends to reflect a kind of academic approach wherein simpler, fundamental material is learned first and becomes the foundation for later practice. By comparison the older Confucian model presents a core of basic tenets out from which radiate ever increasing levels of execution depending on the circumstances and goals of the teacher and student. 

b.) Modern sword tends to relate advancement to ever increasing levels of information and skills at applying that information. The older Confucian model presents a finite amount of information and relates advancement to the degree of competence or finesse demonstrated with those basic techniques. 

c.) Modern sword tends to relate accomplishment to how a performance or execution of material is assessed by others. The assumption is made that people who have been practicing far longer hold higher positions in a hierarchy and are in a position to judge their juniors. Older Confucian structures an individual's growth by how well that person learns and appreciates lessons passed forward from earlier generations. In this way, understanding what one does is every bit as important as stellar performance. 

Korean Native Sword Chapter of the MuYe Tobo Tong Ji identifies 26 methods for using a sword through the recombination of basic body movements, cuts and thrusts, though, with the repetition of some methods the total number of executed methods is 33. Consistent with Ming writing form, each method is assigned a poetic name intended to embody the nature of the sword method. The MuYe Tobo Tong Ji generally, and the BON KUK GEUM BEOP chapter in particular, may be categorized as Military manuals meaning that they provide only an overview of the information necessary for personnel to perform their duties. Each method embodies an aspect of sword-work that is important to understand and master and while these methods need not necessarily be learned in the order presented practices and applications tend to be more basic towards the beginning of the chapter and increase in difficulty as one progresses. 

Method 1 Jikum Dae Jukse (“Hold the Sword; Face the Thief”)
Method 2 Woo Nae Ryak (“Turn to the Right”)  
Method 3 Jinjun Kyuk Jukse (“Advance Forward to Attack the Thief”)  
Method 4 Gumkye Doklipse (“Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg”)
Method 5 Hoo Il Kyuk Se (Rear Single Strike)
Method 6 Il Jase (Thrusting Stance) 
Method 7 Maeng Ho Unlinse (“Wild Tiger Hides in the  Forest ”)  
Method 8 An Jase (“Wild Goose Character”)   
Method 9 Jikbu Songsuse (“Jik-boo sends a scroll”)   
Method 10 Balcho Shimase ( “Parting the Grass, Searching for the Snake”)
Method 11 Pyo Doo Ab Jung Se (“Press the Leopards Forehead”)
Method 12 Cho Chun Se (“Rising Sun”)
Method 13 Zwa Hyub Soo Doo (“Left Insert Animal Head”)
Method 14 Hyang Woo Bang Juk Se (“Face Right and Block the Thief”)
Method 15 Jun Ki Se (“Spread the Flag”) 
Method 16 Jin Jun Sal Juk Se (“Advance Forward and Kill the Enemy”) 
Method 17 Zwa Yo Kyuk Se (“Left Waist Attack”) 
Method 18 Woo Yo Kyuk Se (“Right Waist Attack”) 
Method 19 Hoo   Il   Ja Se (“Rear Single Thrust”)
Method 20 Jang Kyo Boon Soo Se (“Long Dragon Spouts Water”) 
Method 21 Balk Won Chool Dong Se (“White Ape Leaves the Cave") 
Method 22 Woo Chan Kyuk Se (" Right Needle Strike") 
Method 23 Yong  Yak Il Ja Se ( " Bravely Skip and Single Thrust") 
Method 24 Hyang Woo Bang Juk Se (“Face Right and Block the Enemy")
Method 25 Hyang Jun Sal Juk Se (“Face front and kill the enemy") 
Method 26 Shi Woo Sang Jun Se (“Rhinoceros and Ox Face in Battle ”) 

To cipher the nature of each method requires an understanding and appreciation of sword-work. In this manner, therefore, the literal reading of each method is of little assistance.  In the case of each separate method, there is a clear and distinct skill to be mastered and later combined and recombined with other skills to produce a level of competence in wielding this weapon. As skill and understanding build, the individual comes to understand which combinations best serve his needs while others may be simply interesting. Combinations of material found to be particularly useful were recorded in two-person drills (K. Pal Do) or in single person Forms.

Formerly, Korean Sword would have been accomplished either by private tutors or Military Service. The concept of attending a classroom filled with other civilian students would have been surreal to the traditional Korean practitioner. Advances in pedagogy, research and the Martial Arts themselves have improved upon the manner of instruction presented here. However, it is hoped that by better understanding the roots of our studies we can more completely commit to their practice. Rather than a substitution for personal instruction, this area of our website is provided to enhance the practitioners knowledge and appreciation.