Arizona Head Instructor, Master James Alan 5th Dan USA Haidong Gumdo Association. Master Alan has been instructing in the art of Haidong Gumdo in Arizona since 2003. Has earned Best Dojang 2009 US Open, Best Dojang 2011 Pan Am Championships, 2012 Best Dojang World Championships. Master Alan and his world class instructors have also promoted many black belts along with several World Champions. Master Alan has trained in Korea, and holds certification as a Haidong Gumdo Referee.
About Haidong Gumdo
Haidong Gumdo is a sword based martial art that is rapidly growing in popularity here in Arizona as well as the USA nationwide. Gumdo is also known as Kumdo, or Geomdo. Those words are a translation of the meaning of the word 'sword art' in Korean language.
The meaning of Gumdo is the same as 'Kendo' in Japanese. 'Haidong' roughly translated was 'Land by the Eastern Sea', and was another name for Korea that had been used by other countries in ancient times.
Thus, 'Haidong Gumdo' means 'Korean sword art.' Haidong Gumdo is different than traditional Kendo or Kumdo in that the focus is on battlefield engagements and the need to defend against multiple attackers rather than a focus on a single death blow.
According to the World Haidong Gumdo Federation, "The true principle of Haidong Gumdo is to execute justice with the sword light that is obtained at the break of day from majestic and brilliant sunlight that glows over the east sea".
Haidong Gumdo has more than 2,000 years of history. Nonetheless, it was not well-known as it was handed down from person to person for centuries. However, some master's efforts to teach it to the public have changed this situation. Thanks to their contribution, Haidong Gumdo has now become a dominant art in Korea like Taekwondo. Today, it has more than 1,000 schools in Korea and over 300 schools overseas. The 4th World Championships were held in Korea in 2008 and attracted over 10,000 attendees.
What you learn?
Like other martial arts, Haidong Gumdo trains the body, the mind, and the spirit. It also teaches self- defense, self-confidence, character development, patience, concentration, meditation, and etiquette. If you learn it, you must learn how to respect others, above all. Along with those lessons, you learn two- handed style sword patterns (Ssangsoo Gumbup and Yedo Gumbup, Bonkook Gumbup, etc., 'gumbup' means forms), sparring, cutting and many other things.
What type of swords do you learn to use?
The basic sword used in Haidong Gumdo is the traditional Korean long sword, which looks quite similar to a Japanese Katana. The blade is slightly curved and only one side is sharp. Most training is done with a hard wood sword (mokgum). After black belt the student regularly receives training with a real sword (jingum) for cutting and forms. For safety reasons the mokgum or kagum (blunt metal sword) are used in group classes.
Who can learn?
As you can imagine from the expression "the sword art that can be practiced by 3 generations," there is no age limit in learning Haidong Gumdo. Starting from around age 8, juniors, teens, adults and even seniors can exercise this sword art. It is not that difficult to see children, parents and grand parents exercise together in Korea. Seeing people of the ages of 50 or 60 who start to learn this sword art is not particular either. You don't need any martial arts background to start training. In fact, many of our students are the parents of children who have trained in our school, and who wanted to learn a martial art after seeing the benefits of martial art training for their kids. Haidong Gumdo is open to everyone!
What is a normal class like?
A normal class runs around 50 minutes depending on the level of practitioners and the size of the class. All classes begin and end formally with respect being paid to the flag, the instructor and one's fellow students. At the beginning, the instructor leads stretching and warm-up exercises. The second stage of a class involves executing basic cuts and stances. These basics are used as part of the warm-up drill in every class to develop the students' understanding, fitness, endurance and technique. Practice of the basic techniques can become a meditative aid for some students. The third stage of class is determined by level, but can involve instruction on the basic patterns, Sang Soo Gumbup, or engagement techniques such as Gyuk Gum. The class will also typically spend a few minutes in meditation working on Dan Jin breathing. At the final stage, students line up according to their rank and the instructor concludes the class with final instructions and comments.