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#111037 - 09/01/00 12:32 PM Korean Swordsmanship
glad2bhere Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/11/00
Posts: 663
Loc: Lindenhurst, Illinois USA
With the greatest of luck I have been allowed to teach an Introductory class in Traditional Korean Swordsmanship and have been approached a number of times by Hai Dong Kumdo participants for instruction in a more traditional Korean form. The difference is that as a Hapkido instructor, I teach the Korean sword as a weapon rather than a visual art, and in this way am more closely related to the ken-jitsu art of Japan. I would not mind hearing from people regarding resources they have found particularly helpful in supporting their sword studies.

Best Wishes,
Bruce W Sims www.midwesthapkido.com

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#111038 - 09/05/00 03:48 PM Re: Korean Swordsmanship
Deborah K-B Offline
Newbie

Registered: 07/27/00
Posts: 12
Kenjitsu (the correct spelling is kenjutsu) simply means sword technique, though more recently has come to suggest something more combative than do forms (I'm speaking of iaido rather than kendo here, as kendo is actually a sport and quite different from actual sword techniques). A couple of resources you might check into are Toyama Batto-ho (previously battojutsu) and Shinkendo (putting Toyama and Shinkendo into your search engine should bring up some sites). Toyama was developed in the late 19th-early 20th century, and Shinkendo is a new, very functional set of sword techniques developed by Toshishiro Obata.

BTW, iaido is not *necessarily* all aesthetic--it depends on your teacher. We do solo kata, but also partner forms with bokuto and practice cutting. We also do bunkai for the partner forms on a regular basis. Our feeling is that if your technique isn't good, the rest of your iaido will not function well, either.

Regards,

Deborah K-B

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#111039 - 09/06/00 09:51 AM Re: Korean Swordsmanship
glad2bhere Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/11/00
Posts: 663
Loc: Lindenhurst, Illinois USA
Dear D:

Thanks for the information. Are your 2-man forms executed with steel or wooden swords? Originally, the Kumdo school at which I practice followed the Kendo standard and studied the 7 2-man forms with an eye towards complyinf with what has become an international compatition standard. Since then, GM Koo has shifted back to traditional Korean Guem-do and teaches the traditional forms -- both 1 and 2-man. I ask about the nature of your sword as traditionally only 4th Dan and above would have used a shin guem )steel sword) to execute forms. However, GM Koo has noted that modern students do not commit long enough to learn the more sophisiticated techniques if the initial requirement is to have to wait until they have been practicing for 15-20 years. The result was that the art was dying very steadily. My hope is to locate materials that will give me an idea on various approaches individuals have taken to teach oriental swordsmanship. You know how it is. Talking about doing something, and actually teaching someone how to do it are very different. If you think of anything else I would be very grateful.
Best Wishes,
Bruce W Sims www.midwesthapkido.com

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#111040 - 09/14/00 12:24 PM Re: Korean Swordsmanship
Deborah K-B Offline
Newbie

Registered: 07/27/00
Posts: 12
Hi Bruce and members:

As a general rule, in Dojo, we use bokuto (wooden swords) for two-person practice. This is mostly economic, and by our custom. For public demonstrations we often use iaito (alloy blades) for showing two-person forms. The advantage of steel swords for two-person practice is they are more durable than alloy blades for practice (note to newbies: we are not talking about "live" (i.e. sharp) blades here). It has recently become possible to order steel swords for kumidachi from Japan. We have not thoroughly investigated this regarding cost, etc. yet, but we know they are available.

We have also heard there are very light, aluminum blades available from Korea, though they would be too lightweight for us to really use for our practice.

For one-person kata, we recommend iaito (practice swords) for new students. After about 5-6 years of practice, if a student wishes to invest in a gendaito (live blade) for solo practice, that is their option, as long as the weapon is safe for use.

BTW, we have heard stories about instructors more or less forcing students to do kumidachi with live blades for dan testing (it was not an iaido dojo by the way). We think this is inappropriate. If you encounter an instructor who is reckless, or seems unconcerned with safety, we recommend you study with someone else.

Deborah K-B

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#111041 - 09/15/00 10:38 AM Re: Korean Swordsmanship
glad2bhere Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/11/00
Posts: 663
Loc: Lindenhurst, Illinois USA
Dear Deborah:

Funny you should mention this. I was recently asked to help instruct a Hai Dong Kumdo class and came to the first session to see neophytes walking into class with shin guem (steel swords). Apparently they had been waving these sharpened blades about much to the consternation of powers that be. I have no idea of how my instruction was received. I teach a very traditional class in Guem-do which includes deferring the use of shin guem until about 4th BB. Thats about 15 years from now, with a wind at my back. I suspect there was no small disappointment from these students hearing that they will be required to practice with wooden or bamboo swords for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for writing.

Bruce

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#111042 - 09/18/00 03:10 PM Re: Korean Swordsmanship
Deborah K-B Offline
Newbie

Registered: 07/27/00
Posts: 12
Dear Bruce and members

Nice to hear about some sanity abroad in the world. One has to be very careful of neophytes with live blades (and wonder about teachers who let them use them).

We have people start with bokuto (wooden swords) until they can afford iaito (practice swords for iai). Part of the reason for this is economic (students should be prepared to part with a few $$$ for a practice sword), and the other part is getting a feel for a good practice blade that suits the person and is good for practice rather than display (which lets out about 90% of the swords available for sale, BTW).

I have met one teacher of his own style of swordsmanship who eschews the use of practice blades (BTW, criticizing iaido as "fake" for letting people use them). He advocates safety, but lets students with very little experience practice tameshigiri (cutting targets of rolled straw) with live blades. I went to one demo where a guy with about 2 years of experience was able to cut the target, but almost lost his finger trying to resheathe the sword! He looked so dangerous I stood in the back of the room (his grip didn't look too steady), trying to remember my first aid training. Fortunatley, he didn't try to cut again. The teacher, on the other hand, was able to resheathe the sword with no trouble. To me, this is very irresponsible, as the teacher clearly understands what he is doing, but doesn't pass it along to his students.

I practiced for about 8 years before using a live blade (2nd dan - we didn't have any firm rules for when to go from practice to live blade); in fact, since being in class tended to make me nervous at the time, I only practiced by myself with it for six months. After that, I felt more comfortable, and now I prefer iaido practice with a live blade.

The important part, however, is that I had learned proper handling with my practice sword, where I wasn't a danger to myself or anyone else.

Moral: (as I see it) practice swords have value for training proper technique. We are not exposed to real swords from childhood, this is not Tokugawa Japan. Picking the right toool for the job makes your practice better.

Thanks for writing.

Deborah K-B

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#111043 - 09/19/00 12:31 PM Re: Korean Swordsmanship
glad2bhere Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/11/00
Posts: 663
Loc: Lindenhurst, Illinois USA
Dear Deborah:

I had to smile as you mentioned cutting practice as GM Koo is fond of telling us that he can teach anyone to cut a grass mat with a sword in just a few lessons---- but that a lawn mower is much more efficient ( Little Korean Humor).

I am assuming as I read your comments that the deportment for use of the mok guem ( wooden sword) is encouraged to be as close to actual use of a shin guem as possible, yes? By this I mean rotation of the blade, resheathing the sword, etc are expected to be executed as though one were using a sharpened blade? Along these lines, are there also "grounded" techniques. That is, I can imagine that you are taught to draw and cut from a seated/seiza position. Is this then expanded to include follow-up or secondary techniques which might require --say "knee walking" or perhaps techniques from a reclining position? Also, there was a very interesting thread on knives on another Net and I mentioned how in Hapkido our knife techniques have almost entirely been eclipsed (where they can be found) by Japanese knife technique (tanto-jitsu) or by either Korean or Japanese short sword techniques. In some places, lacking instruction in authentic Korean knife techniques some people have "imported" Phill or Indon techniques. It would be nice to hear your comments.
Best Wishes,
Bruce

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#111044 - 09/19/00 04:07 PM Re: Korean Swordsmanship
glad2bhere Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/11/00
Posts: 663
Loc: Lindenhurst, Illinois USA
Dear Deborah:

I forgot to add something in my last post.

I have raised this question on a couple of Nets and wonder if anyone here can provide some help.

The Head of the Hwa Rang Kumdo Assn, GM Hyi Koo, 8th Dan has chosen to accellerate our training by shifting to the use of shin guem (steel swords) in the next year or so. This will entail the purchase of some rather pricey forged weapons from Korea. There are some students who are anxious about making such an investment ($900 to $1200) and risking violating the laws and ordinances of the Chicago area. As only one a few Anglos in an otherwise all Korean organization I have volunteered to gather the necessary information. To date I have attempted to contact the States Attorney, Public Defender, police department as well as other organizations whose interest is fencing (east or west). So far no luck.

If anyone has had experience in this matter or can recommend resources for getting this information I would very appreciative.

Beat Wishes,
Bruce W Sims http://www.midwesthapkido.com

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