Korean Martial Arts have rich and deeply rooted skills that come from the Land of the Morning Calm and have been exported to many other countries around the world. Korea has had many martial arts in its history, but the most well-known today are Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido and Kumdo.
Tae Kwon Do
Tae Kwon Do (also written as “taekwondo”, “taekwon-do” or “t’aegwondo”) is a modern martial art that is characterized by its fast, high and spinning kicks.
The rise of Korean Tae Kwon Do has been extraordinary. Founded only forty years ago, it has grown so rapidly that today it is one of the most popular martial arts in the world. During its early years, Tae Kwon Do was nearly indistinguishable from its parent art, Okinawan Karate-do, founded in Japan.
Of course, most Korean writings on Tae Kwon Do describe the art as several thousand years old but this is not correct. Most of the martial arts practiced in Korea before the nineteenth century were merely reflections of Chinese martial arts. Despite this, today Korea enjoys world renown in its mastery of Tae Kwon Do, and students come from all over the world to study from Korean masters.
Hapkido is one of the first truly integrated martial arts that uses a combination of kicking techniques from Tae Kwon Do and joints locks, throws and grappling from Ju-Jitsu, while recognizing the effectiveness of combining the best aspects of a “Hard” and “Soft” style into very powerful combinations of techniques and theories. Hapkido includes a vast variety of arm and leg locks, weapon techniques, throws, kicks, punches and nerve pressure techniques. Hapkido is not a martial sport but a martial art which is outstandingly suitable for self-defense. It can be learned both by men and by women, regardless of their age.
Kumdo is an ancient form of martial art with its origins in Japanese Kendo. Kumdo means “the way of the sword” and its ancient form originated in Japan nearly two thousand years ago as a form of sword fighting used by warriors to defend their territorial hold. As the sword symbolized the power over one’s life, Kumdo developed into a true martial art and in fact a way of life in the hearts of those who studied it. In the 18th century, Kumdo was reshaped into its present form which uses bamboo swords and protective gear to make Kumdo safer to practice, without compromising any of its focus on spiritual and mental prowess. Although strength and speed play important roles, one cannot master the art of Kumdo without a pure state of mind and body. It is this aspect of Kumdo which makes it very appealing and beneficial as it intensively trains both the mind and the body. Kumdo is a very popular martial art with over three million current practitioners all over the world.