The basic difference between the Japanese and the Korean long sword is that the katana possesses a slight arch. The jung kum, on the other hand, is oftentimes straight. The use of the jung kum is not universal in Kumdo, however, and the Japanese katana oftentimes replaces it.
The straight design of the jung kum was brought into utilization predominately by the Korean systems of Kuk Sul Won and Hwa Rang Do. Both of these systems possess a more Chinese influenced art of swordplay than does Kumdo. Though the straight sword is now commonly associated with the Korean arts, in the Moo Yeh Do Bok Tong Gi, the long swords are detailed as possessing the same arch as those used by the Japanese Samurai.
The "Tanjun," more commonly known by the Japanese term, "Hara," is understood to be an individual's center of gravity. This bodily location exists approximately four inches below the navel.
In Kumdo, it is understood that all sword techniques must be launched with a consciousness placed on this bodily location or the practitioner will easily be set off balance by his sword. From a more metaphysical perspective the tanjun is also understood to be the location where ki, "Internal energy" congregates. Thus, this location is quite revered.
Human breath is known to be the link to ki. Thus, a Kumdo practitioner always breathes in ki and mentally directs it to his tanjun at the outset of each sword movement. When the sword is unleashed, this ki filled breath is released with a, "Kiap," a martial arts yell. This signals that ki is being expelled as the sword moves towards its target.
Holding the Sword
In Kumdo, the sword is held with your lead hand placed just under the sword guard. In some designs the jung kum possesses no sword guard. In these cases, your lead is placed in the same location, at the upper region of the sword's handle. Your rear hand is located at the bottom of the sword's handle. From this grasp, maximum control is maintained over the sword.
In certain Kumdo techniques, the sword is wielded with one hand. In this case, the hand holding the sword remains close under the sword guard. Thus, maintaining maximum balance and control over the sword.
When the jung kum is held, your elbows should remain slightly bent. This is true in all Kumdo drawing, ready position, and striking techniques. From this, you allow your arms to remain loose. Thus, possessing the ability to readily direct or redirect your sword technique with speed and accuracy.
Drawing the Sword
In Kumdo, as with Iaido, the primary focusing technique witnesses the practitioner precisely draw the sword and unleash a highly defined striking technique. In Kumdo, once the sword has been unsheathed, these defined strikes often times include the use of the sheath as a blocking tool. This use of the sheath, as a defensive weapon, is one of the factors, which separates Kumdo from most schools of Iaido.
Eight Primary Strikes
All techniques used in Kumdo are based in eight primary strikes:
1) Overhead Strike, Straight
2) Overhead Slash, Left Side
3) Overhead Slash, Right Side
4) Side Slash, from the left
5) Side Slash, from the right
6) Under Slash, from the left
7) Under Slash, from the right
8) Under Body Strike
Variations are added to these techniques as the Kumdo practitioner becomes more advanced with his use of the sword.
In Kumdo the strike of the sword is never over extended. The practitioner must always control the blade as opposed to being controlled by its weight and momentum. This is accomplished by never randomly striking at the imaginary targets. All strikes are performed consciously with precise impact points in mind.
The development of proper sword strike ability is achieved through conscious practice and proper technique. A sword, in practice, is always extended with the same intent or controlled force that would be used in a true confrontational situation. It is a misnomer that a sword is wielded with a different intensity when one is defending against an imaginary opponent or a real object.
Understanding The Kumdo Sword Strike
Kumdo sword strikes are made in linear fashion. That is to say, they are performed in a straight to the target pattern. Whenever a strike is performed with the sword, it is quickly and precisely snapped into its final position. The sword techniques are not ornamented or flashy. And, no unnecessary energy is used when they are performed. This is where Kumdo differs from some of the Chinese schools of swordplay.
As is the same with the kicking and punching techniques indigenous to Korea, all sword strikes are not ended at the beginning of the target. They are, instead, performed in an application that would penetrate and go through said target. This implementation does not negate the previously mentioned conscious impact point. What it does entail is that the Kumdo swordsmen learns how much impact must be delivered in each sword application to penetrate their intended target.
All Kumdo sword strikes are precisely implemented movements. Through continued practice the swordsman comes to the understand how each sword technique is most efficiently performed. This is accomplished by observing how much force is used in each sword technique, where that energy is most effectively focused, and how much power it will take to achieve the desired result. All of this come from continued practice and developed understanding.
Scott Shaw (2000). Kumdo The Korean Art of the Sword. On-line. Available: http://www.scottshaw.com
What is Hap Ki Do?
Hap means "together" and means the harmony of body and spirit.
Ki defines the life and body energy.
Do means "way of life, way of learning".
Hapkido includes a vast variety of arm an leg joint locks, weapon techniques, throw, kick, hit, and nerve pressure techniques. Hapkido is no martial sport but a martial art, which is outstandingly suitable for personal self-defense. It can be learned both by men and by women, regardless of their age.
Hapkido prides itself on effective self-defense and as such employs joint locks, pressure points, throws, kicks, and other body strikes. Hapkido is an authentic Korean martial art of total self-defense. The martial art deals with countering the techniques of other martial arts as well as common "unskilled" attacks. Although hapkido contains both long range fighting and infighting techniques, the end of most situations is to get near for a close strike, lock, or throw. Hapkido emphasizes circular motion, non-resisting movements, and control of the opponent. Hapkido practitioners seek to gain advantage through footwork and body positioning to employ leverage, avoiding the use of strength against strength.
On the "hard-soft" scale of martial arts, hapkido stands somewhere in the middle, utilizing "soft" techniques similar to aikido and "hard" techniques of taekwondo or tangsoodo. Even the "hard" techniques, though, emphasize circular rather than linear movements. Hapkido is an eclectic martial art, and different hapkido schools emphasize different techniques. However, some core techniques are found in each school (kwan), and all techniques should follow the principles of hapkido:
Hwa, or non-resistance, is simply the act of remaining relaxed and not directly opposing an opponent's strength. For example, if an opponent were to push against a hapkido student's chest, rather than resist and push back, the hapkido student would avoid a direct confrontation by moving in the same direction as the push and utilizing the opponent's forward momentum to throw him.
One of hapkido's key principles, Won consists in redirecting the opponent's power in a circular motion, as shown.Won, the circular principle, is a way to gain momentum for executing the techniques in a natural and free-flowing manner. If an opponent attacks in linear motion, as in a punch or knife thrust, the hapkido practitioner would redirect the opponent's force by leading the attack in a circular pattern, thereby adding the attacker's power to his own. Once he has redirected the power, the hapkido student can execute any of a variety of techniques to incapacitate his attacker. The hapkido practitioner learns to view an attacker as an "energy entity" rather than as a physical entity. The bigger the person is, the more energy a person has, the better it is for the hapkido student.
Ryu, the water principle, can be thought of as the soft, adaptable strength of water. Hapkido is "soft" in that it does not rely on physical force alone, much like water is soft to touch. It is adaptable in that a hapkido master will attempt to deflect an opponent's strike, in a way that is similar to free-flowing water being divided around a stone only to return and envelop it. "As the flowing stream penetrates and surrounds its obstructions and as dripping water eventually penetrates the stone, so does the hapkido strength flow in and through its opponents." These consist of gentle or forceful throws and joint control techniques derived largely from aikijujutsu. They are taught similarly to aikido techniques, but in general the circles are smaller and the techniques, particularly those of sin moo hapkido are applied in a more linear fashion. Most techniques work by a combination of unbalancing the attacker and applying pressure to specific places on the body, known as hyul. Hapkido makes use of over 750 pressure points.
The wide variety of kicks in hapkido make it distinctly Korean. Many of which are similar to taekwondo kicks, though again circular motion is emphasized. Hapkido's method of delivery tends toward greater weight commitment to the strikes and less concern for quick retraction of the kicking leg. As in other arts, such as Muay Thai, hapkido's emphasis is more towards power and commitment than to speed and the preference is toward hip rather than knee generated power. Traditionally, Grandmaster Choi Yong Sul's Yu Kwon Sul kicking techniques were only to the lower body, but most derived varieties of hapkido also includes high kicks and jumping kicks.
Hapkido employs a great number of punches and hand strikes, as well as elbow strikes. The hand strikes are often used to weaken the opponent before joint locking and throwing, and also as finishing techniques. A distinctive example of hapkido hand techniques is "live hand" strike that focuses energy to the baek hwa hyul in the hand, producing energy strikes and internal strikes. Hand striking in hapkido (unless in competition) is not restricted to punches and open hand striking. Some significance is given to striking with fingernails at the throat and eyes; pulling at the opponent's genitals is also covered in conventional training. In order to recall hand strikes more easily in an emotionally charged situation, beginning students are taught conventional, effective patterns of blocks and counterattacks called Makko Chigi, which progress to more complex techniques as the student becomes familiar with them.
Lee's Taekwondo wishes that it could offer a couple of "self-defense" classes that could guarantee your safety in the event that you would need to defend yourself.
Unfortunately, the reality is that if you are ever presented with a life situation requiring that you defend yourself, your physical response must be a conditioned one as your brain might not respond in the most efficient manner when under that level of stress.
The only way to build effective and powerful self-defense is to practice on a regular basis, preferrably 2-3 times per week.
Lee's Taekwondo' adult and children(starting age 4) programs provide the groundwork and instruction necessary to build effective self-defense, not only through physical conditioning, but also by improving one's self-confidence, one of the most important factors in deterring would-be attackers.
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