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.