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About Korean Martial Arts 무술

Korean martial arts are military practices and methods which have their place in the history of Korea but have been adapted for use by both military and non-military personnel as a method of personal growth or recreation.

The two extant martial arts at the time of Japanese take over in 1910, Ssireum and Gungdo grew in popularity during the Japanese occupation period, both of them founding their current federations in 1920. Many of the oldest Gungdo clubs in Seoul, including Hwanghakjeong (near Gyeongbokgung Palace) and Sukhojeon on Namsan (Seoul) were founded in 1930s. Taekkyeon did not enjoy much popularity during the occupation era. It has grown in popularity only in the 21st century, after it was revived in 1983 under the military regime.



Most Koreans learned Japanese martial arts during the occupation period, which eventually evolved into Korean martial arts. These include Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Soo Bahk Do, Tang Soo Do, Moo Duk Kwan, Kuk Sool Won and Kumdo. The main indicator of their Japanese origin is in their uniform, ranking system, and rules. Traditional Korean clothing (Hanbok) has no belt. Belts used in judo and karate, to include the color code and Geup (Kyu) / Dan (rank) system were adopted wholesale by the Koreans. Rules, to include bowing to the flag, and to the master are direct copies from Japanese martial arts and not found in Ssireum and Gungdo, which flourished in Korea before and during the occupation.

Currently these new arts such as Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido created since 1945 remain the most popular in Korea, with most practitioners being children. Tae Soo Do and Hwa Rang Do, which have a sizeable presence in the US are almost unknown in Korea, as the founders relocated to the US and focused on operations in the US. Gungdo participation is limited by the high cost of the equipment, with a traditional horn made reflex bow costing upwards of $1000, and most Gungdo clubs in Seoul charging over $1000 application fee for membership, similar to golf clubs. This limits participation to the upper and upper middle class. Many Korean junior high schools, high schools, and colleges maintain martial arts teams to include ssireum, kumdo (kendo), judo and Tae Kwon Do. Yong In University south of Seoul focuses on martial arts training for international competitions.

It should also be considered that Korean martial arts are still in a state of evolution as witnessed by recently emerging arts such as Teuk Gong Moo Sool and Yongmoodo. There is now also the development of Korean arts influenced by Western boxing, Muay Thai or Judo, these would include Gongkwon Yusul and Kyuk Too Ki.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Korean Martial Arts", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.






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