History of Koryo Gumdo -
1. Originated: In the ancient kingdoms of the Koryo Dynasty.
2. Practiced: By the three kingdoms of Silla, Koguryo and
3. First Schools: The military who trained young warriors
as officers for their armies.
4. Korean Headquarters: Seoul, Korea
5. United States Headquarters: Franklin Park, IL
6. Director and President: Grand Master Duk Gun Kwon
7. United States Gumdo Division Chairman: Master John P.
In Korea, the martial arts developed as a result of internal
conflicts and repeated attacks from neighboring countries
like China and Japan. In an attempt to unite and stop foreign
invaders, various tribes formed alliances resulting in the
development of the Koryo Dynasty (made up of the three kingdoms
of Silla, Koguryo and Paekje).
The warrior groups in these kingdoms had strict codes of
honor and would discipline their minds and bodies while
cultivating their physical strength. The young warrior would
learn to think calmly and logically and cope with dangerous
situations in an orthodox manner. Through meditation they
would train their minds and improve concentration. Applied
through use of the sword, these concepts allowed the Koryo
warrior to overcome the challenges of battle.
Koryo Gumdo developed over time with influence from a variety
of people and regions with some skills passing on and others
fading out of practice. The development of Koryo Gumdo remains
obscure even in Korea today, but there is historical evidence
dating back to 70 BC of sword making techniques similar
to what is known as the samurai sword of Japan.
Following the Koryo Dynasty (during the Yi Dynasty from
about 1392 to 1907), Korean martial arts lost popularity
as the government modernized weapons for national defense
instead. By 1910, Japan had invaded Korea and had complete
control of the land and people. The practice of Korean martial
arts was banned in an effort to destroy the Korean identity
and any possible method for revolt. Koryo Gumdo was replaced
by Kendo. But, secretly many Koreans continued to pass down
the art until the liberation of Korea in 1945.
Immediately there was a movement to unite the various
Korean martial arts into unified national styles. New feelings
of national pride and a desire to re-establish Korean customs
led to an outbreak in the number of people practicing the
ancient martial arts (like Taekwondo) and Koryo Gumdo masters
began training men, women, and children once again.
In 1994 Grand Master Duk Gun Kwon organized the introduction
of Korean Hwarang Gumdo to the United States National Taekwondo
Federation (USNTF). The purpose of this special training
program was to educate and expand the knowledge of Korean
martial arts as a whole. In an effort to preserve strong
traditions through worldwide education of the Korean martial
arts, Grand Master Duk Gun Kwon organized the International
Martial Arts Education Program (IMAEP) and began a cooperative
effort between Korea and the United States to explore the
ancient art of Koryo Gumdo. Since then many martial arts
masters from America and around the globe have traveled
with the IMAEP to Korea in an effort to practice and create
an avenue for others to learn and enjoy the benefits it
In 2001, Master John P. Wood was appointed the United States
Gumdo Division Chairman and rules for international competition
in Koryo Gumdo were outlined.
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