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Haidong Gumdo


The Academy is currently running an instructors course and weekend seminars to train in this art.


Haidong Gumdo is a Korean sword art which draws from battlefield tactics and techniques to build a curriculum for mental, physical and spiritual development. Students learn forms, step drills, sitting and moving meditation, sparring as well as bamboo and straw cutting. Unlike Kendo and its Korean equivalent, Kumdo, the focus in Haidong Gumdo is not dueling but on the tactics of outdoor, pitched battles. Powerful, complex and beautiful, Haidong Gumdo is a wonderful style which can be pursued throughout your life.
Haidong Gumdo means many things to many people. On the surface it is a martial system which preserves and promotes the Korean approach to sword techniques. The dynamic movements and visible power of the forms capture the eye and imagination. Graceful, flowing motion, harnessing lethal power is one way to describe Haidong Gumdo. There is more to it than this, however. The art does not merely teach how to fight with swords. We can begin to see these depths of meaning when we look at the name chosen to represent the art. Hai Dong Gum Do translates best to East Sea Swordsmanship. This translation does not carry all of the meaning for all people. Hai refers to the sea but it also refers to the sun. Dong is east and it too speaks of the sun, specifically the light energy of the sun. Gum means sword and Do has many shades of meaning. In this instance Do is used to represent an approach, both physical and mental, to a body of skills which are properly called an art. Most often in English, Do is translated simply as way or path. Gumdo translates directly as the way of the sword. What often goes unrecognized is the understanding that to travel a path changes the one who travels. Self-improvement or enlightenment is integral to Do. When all the elements which combine to make the name are understood, a very graphic picture of Korean swordsmanship is laid out for us. Images of loyal defenders standing against invaders from across the waters. Images of powerful people learning to control natural energies in accordance with nature and the rules of proper conduct. Images of people who have learned what it means to be human, ready to stand against the darkness in the world and within themselves. It is a beautiful and meaningful name.
It is a fitting name.

In the modern world the study of Haidong Gumdo offers a wealth of opportunities for self-exploration and improvement. Dedicated study is physically demanding. Contemplation of the curriculum teaches tactical thinking but also awakens a sense of the fragility and briefness of life. In our hectic world of selfish behavior such awareness is dimming rapidly. The sword is a perfect metaphor for the spirit of humanity. It is both enemy and ally, capable of protecting us and destroying us. If controlled, it can be a wonder to behold. Wild, it is a terror.
By entering the training hall, with its environment of discipline, respect and honor we can turn our backs on the shallow ways of the present and embrace the best of what tradition has to offer: sincerity, devotion, courtesy, justice, reliability and knowledge.