To give you a better idea about what is included
in the Haidong Gumdo curriculum, below is a list showing what a
typical class session consists of.
Each class sesson begins with meditation and
dan-jeon (abdominal) breathing to help students clear their
minds and become focused.
Stretching and warm up exercises is next to
get students physically prepared to take class and to
Drills that involve drawing and putting away
the sword are sometimes practiced to keep students
proficient in these basic skills.
Instructor leads the class in basics,
consisting of a long series of overhead, sideways and
angular cuts. These basics build strength and increase
After basics are complete, students perform
their required pre-arranged forms, one-step sparring and
fighting combinations. This is different for each belt
While the floor is occupied with the other
ranks, students work on their meditative breathing, practice
their paper cutting using their wooden sword, and candle
snuffing with their wooden sword and / or fist. At
this time students can also continue to practice their forms
or other techniques.
All classes begin and end formally with
respect being made to the flag, the instructor, and to one’s
Progression of Learning: 10th Gub to 1st Gub (Colored
There are generally 8 color belt ranks (gubs) of learning before a candidate
achieves the level of 1st Degree Black Belt (1st dan). The progression of gub ranks
toward first dan descends, so a beginner would be a higher gup
than a more advanced student. The dans run oppositely, in ascending order. The
system of gubs and dans is taken from the Japanese martial art of
Judo and was adopted by the World Haidong Gumdo Federation. In Haidong Gumdo it
is felt that the purpose of the belt is to keep your pants up,
your jacket closed and your testing judges or new instructors
apprised of what they can ask you to do.
At each gub students are taught one or more memorized
patterns of movement as well as short, step-drills which emphasize
the key-points of those patterns. The patterns are named 'ssang-su
gumbub' which means sword methods for two hands.
A brief description of
what is required for each belt level is included in the 'Testing /
What that all means...
The memorized patterns (forms) can be thought of as solo performance
pieces that serve two functions. The first function is to enable
the practitioner to discover the correct way to move with each
technique in order to develop proper speed, power and timing.
Without these things the student is lost. The second function is
to provide the student with a safe way to demonstrate their level of
skill. The two-handed sword
techniques (ssang-su gumbub) begin with a very basic approach to
moving and cutting properly. Over the course of the 12 pattern
series the student will be required to reach greater speeds,
higher endurance levels and expand their level of environmental
At each belt level,
students are also required to learn one or more fighting sword drills or
key-point drills (called gyuk-gums). These are only a few
steps each and include the essence and important techniques
introduced in the
twelve ssang-su gumbub forms. They include a draw, the new technique, a 180 degree
rotation, a repeat of the attack and a return of the weapon to
the scabbard (holding place for the sword). These drills must be performed as quickly as
possible with a focus on skillful execution.
Shimsang gumbub is the last
sword form learned before Black Belt and is used to determine the overall skill of a candidate for
first dan. It comprises all of the techniques found in the ssang-su
gumbub forms and exceeds them. It is extremely fast and
involved, covers a great deal of area and repeatedly simulates
confrontations with multiple attackers at all angles.
Progression of Learning: 1st Dan to 8th Dan (Black Belt
As should be expected the road through the higher degrees of
Haidong Gumdo is slower and much more demanding. The curriculum
is smaller but involves a higher degree of technique and
conditioning on the part of the student. Cutting skills are the
primary requirement for test candidates but forms are practiced
as well. The highest rank in Haidong Gumdo is 9th Dan but as in
most Korean arts this rank is ceremonial and is reserved for the
Head of the art as a whole.
To achieve the rank of second dan requires learning a series of
patterns called yedo gumbub.
To achieve the rank of third dan requires learning 1-4 in a series
of patterns called bonguk gumbub.
To achieve the rank of fourth dan requires completing bonguk
gumbub by learning 5-7.
To achieve the rank of fifth dan includes the learning of jang
To achieve the rank of sixth dan includes the learning of um-yang
To achieve the rank of seventh dan includes the learning of taeguk
To achieve the rank of eighth dan includes the learning of haidong
gumbub and the learning of ssang-gumbub (two-blades).
As you can see by the above description,
the art of Haidong Gumdo as a whole consists of many pre-arranged
forms and movements. This aspect of the art is part of what
adds to it's beauty.
*Some parts taken from
Anthony Boyd's Haidong Gumdo Website
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