History and Tradition of Haidong Gumdo

Haidong Gumdo--Korean Sword Art originated in the ancient kingdom of Kokuryo.  Founded by Saul-Bong-Sun-In who understood the true principles and secrets of the sword. He established a training camp and instructed his disciples so they could rid evil and practice righteousness. The warriors who went through training in the camp were named Samurang and they adopted loyalty, filial piety, courtesy, justice, faithfulness, intelligence, virtue, and physical soundness as their ideals for the training of the mind and body.

The Samurang served the great King of Kwangkaeto (AD 371 – 384) and helped to build a great and mighty kingdom. Twelve centuries later, the Im Jim War (AD 1592-1598) between Korea and Japan was significant to Korean sword history. Up to that point the Korean sword (Kôm Sul) was traditionally straight. The main emphasis of the sword was thrusting and striking. After the Im Jim War the sword was made with a curved blade. This change made it easier to slash rather than thrust. Bon Kook Kum, Cho Sun, She Bub, Je Do Kum, and Ssang Soo training were major sword drills used among the Royal Soldiers.

Haidong Gumdo was a very valuable asset but due to the passing of time and many other reasons, these martial artists left society and started to live hidden away in mountains.  Also, after the Hideyoshi invasion of Korea in 1592, Japanese Kendo took root in Korea. But, due to a new campaign to bring back Korean martial arts, nowadays many of the traditional martial arts are growing roots again in Korea. However, even now there are martial artists who still live in remote mountains training in traditional martial arts and living a lifetime keeping only a few disciples. About 40 years ago amongst those martial arts, Haidong Gumdo was instructed by Grand master Jang Beak San to Kim Jeong Ho, who is the current World Haidong Gumdo Federation President. Master Kim has established over 500 schools in Korea and 1,000 schools in 30 other countries outside of Korea.  

Haidong Gumdo is characterised by “shimgum” which is the unification of the mind, body and spirit expressing itself through the use of the sword. It implies a technical mastery of the sword but transcends technical limitations. One can be technically excellent but still not achieve shimgum.  Shimgum is what makes Haidong Gumdo not only a martial science but also a martial art.  The name 'Haidong' came from 'Haidong Sungguk Parhae,' meaning 'Parhae, the flourishing country in the East'.  'Gumdo' means the way of the sword. Today, Haidong Gumdo refers to traditional Korean martial art of swordsmanship, and literally means “The ‘Light’ of the sword as the ‘Energy’ rising up in the morning in the Eastern Sea.”

'Haidong Sungguk Parhae,' meaning 'Parhae, the flourishing country in the East'.  'Gumdo' means the way of the sword. Today, Haidong Gumdo refers to traditional Korean martial art of swordsmanship, and literally means “The ‘Light’ of the sword as the ‘Energy’ rising up in the morning in the Eastern Sea.”