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Why should one study the Sword (Kumdo) in the modern age of Firearms?
Written by Jin K. Seong
The question gets commonly asked: Why should we study sword training in the modern age of guns? What is the purpose of sword training? Exercise? If so, one could do other other sports , such as running, or weightlifting. Perhaps the reasons lies in the spiritual aspects of sword training.
The purpose of the sword arouses concerns since the sword is capable of threatening one’s life and thus arouses mixed feelings of nervousness, fear, bravery and desperation as he or she encounters in a life or death situation. In sword training (Siljun Doup) one trains by imagining oneself in such a situation and experiences the emotions that one would encounter under these extreme circumstances.
Life or death is a simple and basic concept. One becomes desperate to survive when he faces death. Wealth, honor, social class or occupation does not matter when someone is about to die. Life and death mark the beginning and the end and when in a situation of facing death one empties and lets go of concerns. Through the art of the sword one hypothetically situates oneself to be in an extreme situation where his life is threatened and tries to release all concerns.
Interestingly, our brains do not distinguish between what we see and what we think. The practioneer imagines himself in a life or death situation perhaps in a different historical time period, depending on the quality of his practice, his imagination could produce the same effect as facing this type of situation.
Running and weightlifting are solely physical activities that do not deal with the spiritual aspects of dealing with life and death. In the practice of Swords the spiritual aspect is achieved by training with the concept of life and death.
Through the practice of Sword ( Siljun Dobup), one trains himself to control his own emotions and seek mental freedom.
The ultimate goal of Kumdo
Written by Jin K. Seong.
The ultimate goal of Siljun Dobup is ‘controlling the mind”. The human being consists of mind and body. We think our body and mind are ours or are they? We often make mistakes, regret, collapse and abandon when we fail to control our body and mind. Can we control our mind then? Can we really become the master of our mind? Through training in Siljun Dobup we seek the answer. Siljun Dobup is designed to achieve the ultimate state were the body and mind become One.
There are five ascending stages of training in Siljun Dobup Jee (earth), Soo (water), Pung (wind), Hwa (fire), Cheon (sky). There are also some basic cutting moves to study before Jee, however major training begins at the level of Jee.
What is Kumdo?
Kumdo is the practice of using the sword correctly. As opposed to the showy modern forms that are nothing more than entertainment, Kumdo aims to strike a balance between theory and practice.
Every martial art has an original form. Form is very important and it must be real. To be realistic, real combat experience is necessary. Through practice, that experience is proven and preserved. Kumdop is based on real combat, and many unnecessary movements have been removed. With the right mentality, anyone can enjoy practicing this martial art.
Kumdo teaches etiquette, tradition, breathing, drawing, sheathing, basic cutting and, in order of progression, Jee, Soo, Poong, Hwa, Chun forms aim to create healthy minds and bodies.
What are the benefits to practice sword?
The purpose of Kumdo as mentioned above, is to train the mind and body, but what other purpose does it serve in modern society? How can we benefit from practicing with a real sword?
In the beginning stages, stress relief and focus is most notable. Since a sword is a dangerous weapon, it requires much alertness. The thought that one could get hurt by being careless compels the wielder to focus. As a result, one focuses only on the sword and empties his or her mind
Balance is developed and posture is corrected. Especially in real sword practice, every stance requires one to straighten one’s back, broadening the chest and centering the waist. Purposely lowering one’s center of gravity, the stance naturally corrects posture.
After advancing to mid level, Sat Ji is taught, where we study the proper way to breathe and accumulate our Ki energy(prana); resulting in a healthier body.
Set Soo emphasizes flexibility, rhythm, and the removal of excess force.
The high level Set Poong teaches how to focus one’s strength in a short period of time and the proper way to impact the target. This technique draws out maximum destructibility from a state of accumulated ki.
Set Hwa combines the use of ki, breathing, flexibility, control of strength, and focus mentioned before to bring out one’s maximum potential.