Elwood 5566

Moving on to Haidong Gumdo

Posted in Hae Dong Gumdo, Martial Arts, taekwondo by 노강호 on April 18, 2012

I’d love to pick up studying taekwon-do in Korea. Not that crappy WTF style (which I’ve also studied to red belt) which seems to simply churn out an endless succession of spinning kicks which look great but have as much potential as a feather boa. And then there’s the total lack of handwork!

one of my instructor’s swords. I’ve seen plenty of replicas and blunt blades, but in the presence of a genuine, live blade, one is struck by both their beauty and frightening potential.

Yes, WTF, has it strong points, it has its share of superb practitioners and I’m sure there’s a suitable school somewhere near where I live but I’m annoyed that in the birth place of TKD, the only type of TKD taught is sport taekwondo. I’m 56 and don’t want to jump around a gym doing nothing but back kick-turning kick, back kick-turning kick, or some other flashy combination and churning out a pattern a month so I can dan grade in ten months. I’ve done the kicks to head height and smashed my feet into sand bags with quite impressive power and along with an abdominal hernia, it has ruined the backside of a few pair of trousers. Now it’s time for slightly gentler training and in any case, low level kicks which smash a knee joint have always been more effective as a means of self defence.  But in the home of taekwondo – not only is it impossible to find a school which teaches traditional taekwondo – but it is impossible to find anyone who knows anything but the WTF exists.

And how many Koreans adults have you met that study TKD? When you tell  a Korean you’re studying a martial art its like telling a westerner you’re favourite PC game is Barbie Homemaker; it’s simply not taken seriously. Martial arts are for kiddies  and most Korean men are WTF ‘have-beens’ with a third or fourth degree black-belt earned in less time that it took me to grade to first dan (ITF) in Europe.

another ‘live’ gumdo blade

I hate everything about WTF, I hate their stupid uniform, I hate their boring patterns, I hate the boring training methods, all the running around the gym and jumping over obstacles and a plethora of other tactics designed to entertain kiddy classes and which have mutated Korean WTF schools into sporty kindergartens with accompanying infant grand-masters. Of course, this is just my experience of Korean WTF, I’ve never trained in a European WTF school. And I hate the way you can kick someone to the face but you can’t punch it. When I was at my peak, my kicks were all dangerous and far superior to my hand techniques but with WTF it seems the feet, despite being the key note of TKD, are ineffectual. Most of all, I hate the way the WTF has re-written history so that in Korea WTF taekwondo is simply taekwondo! No other form of taekwondo is acknowledged.  And worse, in Korea, WTF is a business; it is simply about making cash – but then many organisations can be accused of this.

S0, I decided to take up  a new martial art and one which has only recently begun to appear in the west – namely Hae Dong Gumdo. It too attracts criticism but I’m not bothered. I want the dan grade as quick as I can get it and in most martial art schools in Korea you can do a dan grade a year. At 56 with 30 years of on and off experience in TKD, I will always feel inferior to the days when I was at my best but with Gumdo, I can be better today than I was yesterday and I’ll be even better tomorrow. After only three lessons I’m already progressing but in TKD (ITF), I’m always a shadow of my former self.

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©Bathhouse Ballads –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.
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6 Responses

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  1. Walid said, on April 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Hi!
    I enjoyed your article. Could you tell me how does hae dong gumdo differ from kendo or hapkido (in lay man’s terms)?

    • 努江虎-노강호 said, on April 19, 2012 at 2:10 am

      Kendo is Japanese sword technique and the focus is usually on one opponent. Hae Dong Gumdo is Korean and the emphasis is on multiple attacks in a battle field situation.There is also another form of Gumdo – I believe Dae Han. Hapkido is very different. It is Korean and in best layman’s terms combines kicking, throwing, locks, and hand techniques – I guess a Korean form of jiujitsu.

  2. mousegoddess said, on April 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    *koff* I try not to point out typos but “Marital arts are for kiddies” O.O

  3. Bianca the Skydiver said, on April 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I saw a thing on Korean TV with a sabonnim and student in the woods and the sabonnim basically climbed up the guys leg (ie used his knee as a platform) and knocked him out cold with a kick to the head. Guy came around and thanked him! That was gold TV. I did some gomdo, I enjoyed it but inevitably my hagwon switched my hours on me. Go to a good gomdo set up. One that doesn’t see you as an intrusion I guess.
    On swords-those are very, very nice ones. saw some great swords at the national Maritime Museum in Greenwich last week. Swords that are given to higher officers in the ROK army (captain and above?) is a nice thing.


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