The Korean Peninsula has pioneered a variety of martial arts, some of which revolve around the use of a sword. Swords and knives first appeared on the Korean Peninsula during the Bronze Age. The region didn't produce its own swords at this time, however. Rather, it imported them from its neighboring country China. It wasn't until the 1st century when the Korean Peninsula began producing its own swords, thereby paving the way for a new era of Korean swordsmanship.
What Is Traditional Korean Swordsmanship
Traditional Korean swordsmanship refers to centuries-old Korean martial arts that require the use of a sword or other bladed weapon. While some forms of martial arts focus on hand-to-hand combat, others require practitioners to use a sword. Known as swordsmanship martial arts, it's deeply rooted in Korea's history. Over the years, the Korean Peninsula has invented several styles of swordsmanship that are still practiced to this day.
History of Traditional Korean Swordsmanship
The history of traditional Korean swordsmanship can be traced back to the 12th century. In the book titled, "History of the Three Kingdoms," it's revealed that Korean soldiers were required to undergo a thorough military training regimen that included the use of swords. The soldiers learned the basic concepts of how to handle and use a sword so that they could better defend themselves against their enemies.
Around the 17th century, a training manual was published to help educate and teach Korean soldiers on how to use a sword. Known as the "Army Account of Military Arts and Science," the book specifically focuses on fencing. It explains that fencing was invented in China, after which it carried over to the Korean Peninsula.
There was also the "Martial Arts Illustration" manual released around this same time. Considered to be one of the oldest manuals on traditional Korean swordsmanship, it focused on a half-dozen disciplines, one of which being the Ssangudo. Of course, the Ssangsudo was a large two-handed sword with a curved, single-edged blade. It was a common weapon used by Korean soldiers, partly because of its power and versatility. But like all swords, the Ssangudo required skill to use. This led to the creation of the "Martial Arts Illustration" manual, assisting soldiers in learning how to use this sword.
Korean Swordsmanship Today
Today, swordsmanship-style martial arts is still practiced on the Korean Peninsula. The term used to describe these sword-based Korean martial arts is kumdo. Meaning "way of the sword," kumdo is practiced by thousands of people each year.