Haidong Gumdo starts with basic cuts and movements that form the basis of patterns to be mastered. Gumdo patterns reflect a combat style against more than one opponent. As you progress through the various skill levels towards your 1st Dan, you will learn numerous additional skills. Obtaining your 1st Dan is a major stepping stone on your journey through life.
Haidong Gumdo is suitable for students of all ages and fitness levels from Children to Seniors regardless of gender. It is dedicated to development of the Spirit, Mind, and Body, promoting fitness, perseverence, discipline, respect, and self-control to name a few positive attributes. Regardless of how these attributes are achieved, Gumdo certainly promotes these attributes. Fitness of body, is important in life as is fitness of the mind, both of which can help to ease the stresses of modern living. Gumdo stimulates the mind by the process of learning and memorizing, while the body benefits from the regular training. Training is modified to meet the capabilites of the individual Student.
As one’s abilities change, so does the level of expectation. The sense of achievement obtained as one progresses down the path is one that stands the student in good stead through all of their life. Gumdo is also a good family activity with all members of the family being able to be part of a common activity that can assist in maintaining the strength of the family unit.
Safety is paramount in all aspects of training. Students are taught from the beginning, with continual reinforcement, that you must at all times treat your Sword with respect and be aware of your fellow Students. Just like any object a person may swing around, Swords (wood, bamboo or other) are tools, not toys, and are capable of causing injury. Teaching Students discipline and how to act responsibly with these tools is of the highest importance. Students are taught how to hold, draw, cut, generally manipulate, and put away the Sword with complete safety for themselves and others around them. Students start using a wooden sword to learn how to use a Sword properly. As they gain experience and skill, they graduate to using other types of sword. Sparring allows the student to employ and understand the different techniques learned and to earn points for the various strikes. Students are fitted with safety helments, gloves, and chest guards. Referees ensure that they are kept within a safe range. Swords are foam covered PVC.
The Gumdo uniform is called a Dobok. The pants are wide-legged traditional warrior pants and the jacket is short-sleeved with ribbon ties. Apart from providing comfortable working clothes, the Dobok is coloured to denote rank. Combinations of pants and jacket colours make the broad rank of the wearer known immediately. Prior to achieving 1 st Dan, the Dobok consists of black pants and black jacket. The belt colour denotes the actual rank of the Student. On achieving their 1st Dan, the dobok colour changes to blue; the pants being plain blue, while the jacket is lightly patterned. On reaching 2nd Dan the jacket and pants change to white, and for 3rd Dan, the pants change to black and white check. 4th Dan is Master level with the jacket being a lighter brighter blue than 1st Dan, and the pants remaining checked. At 6th Dan and above, the jacket changes to white with different emblems denoting rank.
Gumdo patterns (forms) are collections of movements starting with simple combinations and progressing through increasingly complex combinations. In order to grade to the next level, the Student must demonstrate successful execution of the patterns and drills consistent with their next level.
There are several different types of Sword used in Gumdo. The different sword types have different purposes, such as Paper Cutting, Bamboo Cutting, training, demonstration, Sparring, and so on.
There are several forms of cutting and these involve different skills and swords. Students start learning to cut paper, using a paper-cutting wooden sword. In cometition, students are scored on the accuracy and straightness of their cuts. Higher grade students are required to make more cuts on a single sheet. Once 1st Dan is attained, students are permitted to use a Jingum (sharp sword) to cut bamboo or reed mats.
Haidong Gumdo requires concentration and control over the sword and the associated movements. Students learn to extinguish the flame of one or more candles with both hand and sword, without actually touching the candles. They also learn how to focus the energy of a cut into the sword.