Basics Sword Techniques and Stances
The fundamental building blocks of Haidong Gumdo is the basic sword techniques and stances. The students will learn how to hold swords properly, to make a basic cutting motions and to effectively transfer power from their stances into swings.
Gumbup and Gyukgum Practices
Gumbups or sword patterns are designed to teach various sword techniques. The fixed patterns are designed to teach various sword techniques that can be applied in combat situations. Haidong Gumdo is known for its expansive pattern practices as there are more than 50 sword patterns of varying complexities (each taking about a minute or two to perform).
The progression in Gumdo is logical and well designed. A student will study memorized patterns for solo practice to enable the practitioner to discover the correct way to move with each technique in order to develop proper timing, speed and power.
The patterns are very dynamic and grow more physically challenging with each rise in rank. The gradual progression of the patterns teaches understanding of how to combine various offensive and defensive postures with movement to create effective tactics.
A first degree black belt in Gumdo should have learned the responsibility of self-control, developed an understanding of honour, internalized the 8 basic two-handed sword patterns (ssangsu gumbup), the 8 corresponding ‘key-point’ drills (gyuk-gum), developed a high tolerance for the physical and mental demands of Ki Gong exercises (breathing-based meditation facilitated by movement), basic unarmed defense vs. punches and kicks, basic kicking skills, learned safe falling and tumbling practices and achieved a fairly good level of emotional and physical fitness.
Gyukgum (key-point drills)
Gyukgum litrally means ‘striking of swords’ and it is designed to simulate sparring conditions. There are several different ways to practice gyukgums: single person sequences, paired sparring training (both shadow method and contact method), multi-persons techniques and free sparring.
In order to learn proper sword techniques, various cutting practices are practiced throughout the student’s progression in the martial art. In the colour belt levels, thin, edged wooden swords are used to cut soft targets such as papers. Also, students learn to strike moving objects such as tennis ball(s) in the air.
Most adult Haidong Gumdo black belt students train with jingums, which are real sharp Korean swords. At this point, the cutting targets are typically green bamboo poles of about 1~4 inches in diameter. In Canada, it is hard to purchase a steady and cheap supply of green bamboo poles so often dried bamboo poles are used as cutting targets. Tatami mats are less frequently cut in Haidong Gumdo practices.
Throw and Paper Cutting
Throw cutting includes techniques are designed to slice through objects such as oranges while they are in mid-air. Students often begin practicing throw cutting with a plastic baseball, and then progress to ping pong ball. For paper cutting, students use various techniques to cut through paper at different angles, with either a jingum or kagum.
Bamboo cutting is reserved for higher ranks of adult students of Haidong Gumdo (18 years and older). First, a bamboo pole with a diameter of up to 4″ is placed in a metal bamboo holder. Then, with great concentration and focus, the student draws the sword. With a quick motion, the student uses a diagonal cut to cut through the bamboo at a 45 degree angle. Bamboo cutting is not about physical strength. Bamboo cutting is successful only if the diagonal cut is performed with speed and the proper technique.
Master Instructors with great skill in bamboo cutting will often arrange several bamboo poles in a circle or line, and cut through them successively with elegant spins and lethal-looking, precise cuts. The most skilled instructors in Haidong Gumdo are able to cut through several bamboo poles mounted in a multi-pole holder at once.
Sword dance is also known as gummu. These artistic sequence of sword movements are often practiced with a choice of music. Sword dance is often performed by a solo practitioner but there were many examples of great group sword dance performed by talented swordsmen and women.