Learning Haidong Gumdo - Basics
ChalkBal Gum (Draw the Sword / Sheath the Sword)
Techniques With each belt rank, a student must
learn a corresponding method with which to draw
and sheath a sword. These ChalkBal Gum methods
often expand upon the techniques required by a
particular Sangssu Gumbup form. ChalkBal Gum
techniques helps a student learn how to the move
the body with the sword, to become fluid when in
motion and to become one with the sword. As the
sword is often spinning over head, by the ear or in
front of the body, it's very important that the
student focuses and has an awareness of the sword.
Ultimately, with mastery of the ChalkBal Gum techniques, the student is able to draw and sheath the sword smoothly, with much precision, and perhaps most critically of all: WITHOUT ANY NOISE other than the swish of the sword blade as it cuts through the air.
As in many other martial arts, the Haidong Gumdo curriculum includes a series of forms--sword techniques that are performed in a specific pattern. Students learn different sets of forms based on their belt rank, and each form contains techniques suitable for that belt rank. Color belts who are progressing toward a first dan black belt learn Sangssu Gumbup forms. Students ranked first dan and higher learn forms such as Yedo Gumbup and Bonguk Gumbup. For more information regarding the sword forms required by belt rank, please see the Haidong Gumdo Curriculum Chart.
Gyuk Gum Techniques
Gyuk Gum techniques are the most effective, "tried and true" combinations of sword attacks and blocks, as passed down by the ancient samurang. A student learns one or two new sparring combinations with each new belt rank, and slowly builds a repertoire of sword combat techniques. Quite frequently, each belt rank's one step sparring combination(s) will focus upon the same sword attacks and blocks that are practiced in the corresponding Sangssu Gumbup form.
Basic Cuts and Stances
Chungmyôn pegi: Straight cut
Chwa pegi: Left Cut
U pegi: Right Cut
Hwengdan ilgôm pegi: Horizontal cut
Ollyo pegi: Upwards cut
Chirûgi: Thrust / stab
Samdan pegi: Straight cut followed by left cut, then right cut
Gwangja pegi: Straight cut, left cut, right cut, horizontal cut, left diagonal cut, right diagonal cut right
Chayônse: Standing in a natural (short stance) posture.
Taedo-se: Long or high stance
Sodo-se: Short or low stance
Kima-se: Horse-riding stance
Choch'ôn-se: Upper ready stance
P'alsang-se: This is any position where the sword is held vertically (normally) on the right hand side with the hilt at chest height. Kûmgye dongnip p'alsang-se: Stand on one leg (normally left). Raised foot should point down. The sword is normally held vertical on the right side
Chiha-se: Lower ready stance
Pôm-se: Back stance
Pokho-se: Tiger stance
Sword Self Defense
There are several sword methods--outside of the techniques practiced in Sangssu Gumbup forms and Gyuk Gum techniques--that can be used to repel an attacker. Many of the techniques involve wrapping an opponent's arms up with a sword, so the opponent is immobilized, thrusting the hilt of the sword into a weak spot (neck, temple, solar plexis), and knocking the sword out of an opponent's grasp, laying his or her body open for all kinds of attacks, including knee and ridge hand attacks. These techniques are a change of pace from the usual Haidong Gumdo practice and are a valuable asset to any student's Haidong Gumdo skills.
Candle extinguishing in Haidong Gumdo is the practice of putting out candles with a mok gum - wooden sword - without the sword ever touching the flame. This is accomplished using long, emergency-type tapered candles that are gathered together with a rubber band, and then mounted on a wooden base so that they stand upright. A student will place the candles on a wooden base and, once kneeling behind the candles, will swing the sword downward in a front cut until it is just above--but not touching--the flame(s).
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 small paper ball, and then progress to playdough before attempting to cut an orange. For paper cutting, students use various techniques to cut through paper at different angles, with either a jin gum or sa gum.
Bamboo cutting is reserved for all ranks of adult (18 years and older) students of Haidong Gumdo. First, a bamboo pole with a diameter of up to 4", depending on the student's skill level, is placed in a metal bamboo holder with a weighted bottom. 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, and the angle of the cut is around 45 degrees.
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.