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Beginner's Guide to Kumdo

April 21, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Kumdo

Kumdo, also referred to as Geomdo, is a century-old form of traditional martial art. The term translates into "way of the sword," which a key element of the practice. To learn more about Kumdo and how it came to be, keep reading.

Origins of Kumdo

Kumdo has roots dating back to the early 1900s, during which the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (DNBK) wad formed. The DNBK's mission was to preserve some of the older forms of martial arts that were all but forgotten, including sword, archery and hand-to-hand combat.


Kumdo has deep philosophical principles and beliefs. It encourages students to build strong character while showing respect, courtesy and fairness throughout their training. May modern Kumdo schools embrace the five tenets of the Three Kingdoms Period, which follows:

Be loyal and faithful to your country and organization.
Be faithful and respectful to your parents and elders.
Be faithful and respectful to your friends and colleagues.
Be confident and show courage when faced with injustice.
Be benevolent.


Kumdo students must climb their way up the rankings. The requirements to advance a rank varies depending on the respective Kumdo school, though most involve conditioning of the body and mind.


Common types of equipment used in Kumdo include the following:

  • Myŏn-soo-goon -- a lightweight scarf, typically mad of cotton, that's worn under the helmet for protection.
  • Homyeoum -- wire-mesh helmet that's worn to protect the face.
  • Kap -- a protective vest worn over the torso.
  • Kapsang -- type of canvas and leather skirt worn to protect the lower body.
  • Howan -- protective mitts with side cuffs.
  • Ko-dûng-i -- the hilt of a sword, used to protect the hands.
  • Duengjul -- yellow-colored string attached to the sword's tip and guard.
  • Joonghyuk -- leather band that marks the "striking" area of the sword.
  • Sunnhyuk -- leather cap, representing the tip of the sword.
  • Byounghyuk -- Handle of the sword.


In Kumdo, engagement occurs between two students at a time. Both students are required to wear the appropriate body armor (see above), while using bamboo swords to attack. Engagement occurs in either a square or rectangular-shaped area and lasts for approximately 5 minutes with an optional 3 minute extension.

Students earn points during these engagements by successfully striking their opponent with the bamboo sword. The student with the highest amount of points at the end of the 5-minute engagement is declared the winner.

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