Kumdo - Develop Your Mental Strength and Boost Your Self-Confidence

Kumdo is an ancient Korean martial art.

Take on the challenge and you'll wield a sword with precision and power.

And as with all martial arts... you might just find a few hidden benefits.

We caught up with Master Hyun Kyoo Jang - 6th Dan in Headong Kumdo and black belt in taekwondo to find out more.

'One day I found sword pictures in a magazine. Something attracted me to the sword and my heart started pounding. I visited a Dojang and enrolled on that day.'
kumdo,korean martial arts,gumdo

Can you tell us about your background?

My name is Hyun Kyoo Jang. I have trained in the art of the sword for almost 20 years and came to Australia in 2005 to introduce it.

My brothers, one older and one younger, have martial arts experience too. We all learned Taekwondo when we were young in Korea. My older brother has 4th Dan in Kumdo and 2nd Dan in taekwondo and younger brother has 2nd Dan in taekwondo.

After I got a black belt in taekwondo, I started getting a bit bored in training.

One day I found sword pictures in a magazine. Something attracted me to the sword and my heart started pounding. I enrolled for training that day.

It was at high school. I loved my training so much I went to bed with a sword and woke up with it! It seemed to me a religion. I always tried to be honest and good in front of my sword like a religious person.

When I was at university I opened a club with some black belts and started teaching the way of the sword to the college students. When I finished military service my master suggested I become instructor in his dojang.

I opened my own full-time dojang when I was 23 years old.

Can you tell us a little about the different aspects of your art?
kumdo,korean martial arts,gumdo

The main difference in terms of sparring between sword fighting and other martial arts is that there are no weight levels.

Just adults and children separated into male and female. Your level depends on your techniques, not power or body weight.

Secondly, in sparring each target on your body scores only 1 point. In Taekwondo if you attack your opponent on his or her head you would get 2 or 3 points, whereas a body shot might only get 1 point.

If you were to fight with a real sword, the situation is different. A strike anywhere on your body is clearly very serious.

If you lose your arm or leg in a sword fight. Can you still fight?

You could say 'yes' but you will definitely lose most of your power and will be very hard to keep attacking.

Thirdly, there are 4 sections to your training: patterns, sparring, cutting and meditation. Each element is equally important. They are all connected to each other. Without one element you can't train real Kumdo properly.

When you understand the correct angle of blade through cutting training, you can perform patterns properly and apply them in sparring.

Also this process requires an empty mind which you build through meditation.

At a grading examiners test students' mental strength rather than their physical techniques. This is because you can't get full power with a sword unless you have strong metal power.

In sword fighting we think we have only one chance to attack in a fight so if we lose it we will lose in a fight. This mind makes us focus more on one cut.

The ultimate goal in is to achieve our self-control.

And self-defense?
kumdo,korean martial arts,gumdo

Many people think Kumdo is not good for self-defense because they think a swordsperson can't fight without a sword.

I do not agree with that.

You know a sword is faster than a hand or leg attack. If you are able to dodge a sword or stick, dodging or blocking your opponent's kicks and punches would be easy.

All you need to do after blocking is stretch your arm towards your target. Everybody can do punching naturally and easily.

Is there a belt system like in other Korean martial arts?

Yes, we have a belt system like Taekwondo. The order of color levels is white, yellow, green, blue, blue and red, brown, red, red and black and black. Students get a chance to grade every 3 or 4 months.

Here at Kumdo Australia we have another belt system, black with white stripes. This belt is given to the students on the instructor course. To start the course with the belt, students have to pass certain requirements, and after the course they need to take 1 week's special training with the grand master and then on the last day they are examined all the requirements.

When they pass all elements, they are awarded an instructor certificate.

Personally I think the belt system motivates students practice hard. When they reach each level, they want to take on the challenge to reach the next belt.

We love to see the cutting side of your art. Is this your favorite aspect?
kumdo,korean martial arts,gumdo

When I started training with the sword I initially just focused on learning patterns because the patterns were important for grading. I wanted to have a black belt quickly.

Later in my journey I met some masters involved in different kinds of Kumdo. These masters' techniques of cutting, sparring were fantastic.

Also, I lost a sparring bout against a yellow belt student from a Kendo centre which mainly focuses on sparring when I was 1st Dan in Headong Kumdo and I could not demonstrate some basic cutting techniques which were white belt level of other Kumdo associations.

It was so embarrassing.

So I started learning cutting and sparring. I believe the way of the sword needs to include 4 factors, patterns, sparring, cutting and meditation. I still study cutting and sparring to further my knowledge and to teach my students and introduce all elements of this ancient art into Australia.

Headong Kumdo is an ancient art-form. And swords are not part of modern day life. So how is training helpful to people today?

Meditation and cutting training will help you keep peaceful and develop the balance of your body and mind, and sparring training will build up self-defense and help you make quick and correct decisions in a dangerous situation.

Also, I would recommend sword training for those who want to build up mental power and concentration.

If you have strong spiritual power you can start whatever you want to do easily.

I believe when you are brave in front of a sharp sword and a stronger opponent you are ready for everything. Being brave and confident in front of a stronger opponent is much harder than beating them.

And finally who is your school open to? Is Kumdo good for people of all ages? And for men and women?

Kumdo is for all ages. It does not matter how old you are to train Kumdo. The youngest in my centre is 6 years old and the oldest is 76 years old.

Originally Kumdo training was very hard for women and children physically. However, modern training methods mean that everybody can enjoy the way of the sword.

You can visit Master Jang's website for more information

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