"pum" which signified a face-to-face stance preparing for a fight. The masters of Taekkyeon were also under constant threat of imprisonment, which resulted in an eventual cessation of Taekkyeon as popular games.
Taekkyeon has had a slight resurgence in recent days, getting the classification Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Korea No. 76" on June 1, 1983. It is the only Korean martial art which possesses such a classification.
Originally an ancient Silla martial art but later named Hapkido by Choi Yong Sul who returned from Japan after World War II and started teaching a martial art he claimed to have learned from Sokaku Takeda. He called his style Yawara, but it was later renamed to Hapki Yusul and again renamed to Hapkido. Students of Choi Yong Sul, such as Ji Han Jae, helped to spread this art. Hapkido helped to revitalize traditional Korean martial arts by providing systemization and becoming incorporated into other styles. This process complemented modern Korean martial arts like Kuk Sool Won, Han Mu Do and Hwarangdo.
There are also many modern Korean martial arts that are recompilations or reorganizations of techniques from traditional or imported arts. Some relied on manuals like the Muyejebo and Muyedobotongji. People trying to revive the old martial traditions of Korea studied these books and started new styles like Muye24ban and the re-enactment group Muye24gi. Many of these arts visually appear to have more of a Chinese influence than other Korean martial arts, except for taekgyeon.
Additionally, it is not clear who created these arts in the first place in their most ancient form—often, exponents of Korean martial arts argue that Korea in fact created these arts in ancient times, which then passed over to Japan, and then were later re-imported back to Korea. Historically, many cultural features, including Chinese calligraphy, Buddhism, pottery techniques, city design, and political systems, were transmitted from China to Korea, and in modified form, retransmitted to Japan, which further modified them. As with other adjacent cultures, constant borrowings and adaptations in various directions make claims of origin very difficult to prove.
The Korean martial arts that may today be viewed as being traditional (as opposed to modern Korean martial arts) are taekgyeon and a handful of others including subyokchigi, subak, ssireum, the Buddhist art of Seonmudo, and various weapon-based styles. Taekgyeon is the only Korean martial art that received the status of 'intangible cultural asset' (no. 76) from the Korean government.
Modern Korean martial arts' systemization and presentation are very similar to their Japanese counterparts (i.e., barefoot, with uniforms, classes executing techniques simultaneously following the teacher's commands, and sometimes, showing respect to portraits of the founder by bowing to the picture or national flags). Many modern Korean martial arts also make use of colored belts to denote rank, tests to increase in rank, and the use of Korean titles when denoting the teacher. These include:
Sabeomnim (사범님 / 師範님): Master instructor.
Kwanjangnim (관장님 / 館長님): training hall owner/ kwan leader.
Dojunim (도주님 / 道主님): keeper of the way.
These Korean terms are based on Confucian rank systems (with the same Chinese characters). Many schools also make use of Korean terminology and numbers during practice.
Korean martial arts are usually practiced in a dojang (도장), which may also be referred to as cheyukkwan (체육관 / 體育館, i.e., gymnasium). The practitioners wear a uniform or dobok (도복) with a belt or tti (띠) wrapped around it. This belt usually shows which grade the practitioner has attained. A student usually starts with a white belt and moves through a range of colored belts (which differ from style to style) before reaching the black belt. The grades before black belt are referred to as geup or kup (급), while the grades of black belts are referred to as dan (단). In some cases, students less than 16 years old are not given dan grades, but rather "pum" or poom (품) or "junior black belt" grades. Some styles use stripes on the black belt to show which dan the practitioner holds. It is common for a system to have nine geup grades and nine dan grades. While it might only take a few months to go from one geup to the next, it can take years to go from one dan to the next. Most of the above terms are identical to those used in Japanese styles such as judo and karate, but with the Chinese characters read in Korean pronunciation, with a few exceptions (dobok and tti have been altered to fit the Korean language).
In some styles, like taekgyeon, the hanbok is worn instead of a dobok. The v-neck of many styles of taekwondo uniform was supposedly fashioned after the hanbok.
Traditional Korean martial arts styles
Chung Do Mu Sool Won (정도무술원 / 正道武術院)
Chung Do Mu Sool Won is also spelled Chungdo Musulwon, Jung Do Mu Sool Won, Jeong Do Mu Sul Won, Jeongdosul (정도술), etc. (literally meaning "True-Way Martial Arts," also "Right Way, Correct Way, and/or Best or Proper Method of Martial Arts Training.")
This was the original martial art used by the Korean Royal Army, Royal Palace Guards, and Royal Bodyguards. Reference to this form can be found in the Muyedobotongji and the Korean National Archives. This form uses multiple styles of fighting, and unlike many other Korean styles Chung Do retains a fair amount of weapons training. Skills employed vary from joint locks, fist techniques, kicks and pressure point throws. Chung Do also incorporates the arts of jiapsul (acupressure) and chimsul acupuncture, etc.). Chung Do Mu Sool Won is officially organized under the World Chung Do Mu Sool Won Association (세계 정도무술원 협회 / 世界 正道武術院 協會) and its sister organization the Chun Tong Han Kuk Koong Joong Mu Yea Sool Hyup Hye (전통한국궁중무예술협회 / 傳統韓國宮中武藝術協會), the Traditional Korean Royal Court Martial Fine Arts Association.
Charyeok literally means 'stance art' and mainly focused on various forms and stances.
Haidong Gumdo (해동검도)
The traditional sword of Korean Martial Arts
This is an art that focus on rigorous stances and free-flowing combat.
Korean archery, making use of a traditional composite horn bow.
Literally meaning bow art, i.e. archery
Joseon Sebeop (조선세법/朝鮮勢法)
This is a sword style originating in Chosun. It has many hand and a half techniques along with slicing with little movement.
Sunmudo (선무도/禪武道)/Bulmudo (불무도/佛武道) /Seon-Kwan-Moo
These are Korean martial arts passed down by the Buddhist monks and mostly preserved until today
This is the style described in the Muyesinbo and Muyedobotongji. The crown prince Sado named the 18 martial arts of Korea 'Muye Sippalki' when compiling the Muyeshinbo in 1759.
This is Korean folk wrestling. The art requires the opponents to grasp each other in the sash belts that they wear. The first man to let go of their opponent, or to touch the ground with a part of the body other than the bottom of the feet, loses. This art is still seen in Korea today, mostly as a contest in festivals and such.
Literally translated, it means 'bare block striking' and is a breaking art in Korea that trains the martial artists to break stone, metal and wood with their bare hands. Many martial artists from different backgrounds take this technique to further discipline themselves.
This is a traditional martial art that derived from subak. It uses many sweeps with straight forward low kicks using the ball of the foot and the heel and flowing crescent like high kicks. There are many kicks that moved the leg outward from the middle and inward from the outside using the side of the heels and the side of the feet. The art also used tricks like inward trips, wall jumping, fake outs, tempo, and slide stepping. It resembles dancing in the way the fighter constantly changes his or her stance from his or her left to his or her right by stepping forward and backwards while his or her arms are up and ready to guard. This art requires traditional Korean white robes which were commonly worn in the past.
Extinct Korean martial arts styles
Subak means 'empty hand' and was a term for empty-handed combat methods. It translates into Chinese as shoubo.
An ancient grappling style sometimes called the predecessor of hapkido. The Chinese characters are identical to Japanese jujutsu.
Modern Korean martial arts styles
Kung Jung Mu Sul
Kung Jung Mu Sul, Traditional Royal Court Martial Arts in Korean, was created by Grandmaster Soon Tae Yang. It is a comprehensive system dealing with both single and multiple attackers utilizing a vast array of kicking, in-close striking, joint lock manipulation, grappling and weapon techniques from both the standing and ground positions.
Choi Kwang Do
This art focuses on strikes and blocks as well as wrist breaks, strangle breaks and take-downs. Formed between 1978 and 1987 by Kwang Jo Choi, incorporating stretching movements that are based on moves from yoga and designed to increase flexibility.
This art comprises many empty hand techniques Ho Shin Sool, as well as weapon elements. Similar to other circular Korean arts such as hapkido, Dahn Moo Do is one that utilizes an opponents energy and weight against them.
This is a newly created Korean sword-art where the basic techniques are based on the letters of the Korean alphabet, hangeul.
This is a Korean style of kickboxing.
This is the name of the association where the Muye24ban was practiced. The founder is Lim Dong Kyu who studied the Muyedobotongji and reconstructed its martial arts.
Haidong Gumdo (해동검도/海東劍道)
Haidong Gumdo literally means 'Techniques of the Eastern Asian Sword'. This is a sword art created by Kim Jeong Ho and Na Han Il around 1980. Its original name (as they learned it from Kim Chang Sik) was Shim Gum Do. It is more concentrated on field techniques and combos rather than having only one opponent.
This is a martial art developed by Myung Jae Nam based on both hapkido and aikido as well as a lot of own creation.
This style was created by Kimm He-Young; a martial arts historian and a student of Lim Dong Kyu. It is one of the arts claiming to have deep roots in Korean culture. It consists of many different striking, grappling, and weapon techniques. Its signature feature is the mu han de, or infinity symbol, shaped movement incorporated into blocking, grappling and striking. Hanmudo should not be confused with another style called Han Moo Do.
Han Moo Do
Han Moo Do (also Hanmoodo) is a Korean-style martial art founded in Finland by Young Suk. It is mainly practiced in the Nordic countries. Hanmoodo contains almost all sectors of traditional martial arts and its exponents may participate in full-contact competition.
This martial art has the same roots as Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, but many kicks, acrobatics, and weapons added later.
This modern martial art is a combination of styles including empty hand and weapon techniques. Hapmudo means combination of martial art studies. Fist techniques, kicks, grappling, joint submissions and throws are all incorporated.
Hoejon Musul (회전무술/回轉武術)
This is a Korean martial art developed by Myung Jae Ok which uses circular motions in order to direct an opponent's power against him/her.
A modern Korean martial art founded in 1960 by Joo Bang Lee. It includes hard and soft style striking and blocking, joint locks, throws, take-downs, ground fighting, and weapons. It is governed by the World Hwa Rang Do Association, and claims to be based on the traditional fighting skills and philosophy of the Hwarang.
A modern taekwondo kwan with strong emphasis on self-defense oriented techniques originating from the Allen Steen line of the Chung Do Kwan with strong influence from Shotokan, hapkido and arnis.
Kumdo literally means 'sword art' and is a Korean version of kendo.
Kuk Sool Won (국술원/國術院)
This is a branch from Suh In Hyuk, a student of Choi Yongsul's hapkido school. The art is based on three branches of traditional Korean martial arts: Family/Tribal martial arts, Buddhist temple martial arts and Royal Court martial arts.
Kwonbup is the Korean translation of the Chinese word quanfa, literally meaning 'fist methods'. Various old documents and scrolls in Korea depicted barehand techniques and referred to them as kwonbup.
Soo Bahk Do (수박도/手搏道)
The present incarnation of Hwang Kee's style; previously it was known as Tangsudo, a name still used by some schools. These include use of the hip and interesting kicks. Similar to old-style taekwondo, there are some unique methods such as the "reverse roundhouse kick". Aside from Hwang Kee's own creations, many of the techniques in Soo Bahk Do were adopted from Shotokan karate and higher levels include those from Chinese martial arts.
This is a branch of Muye24ban made by Kim Young Ho a former student of Dong Gyu Lim. The Muye24ki community is a re-enactment group that tries to revive the history of the Muyedobotongji. The martial arts of Muye24ki is inspired by contemporary sibpalki.
Sul Ki D
Rooted in traditional Korean martial arts, Sulkido emphasises practical self defense.
This style was founded by Suk Ku Kim. It teaches falling techniques, kicks, strikes, hand techniques, pressure points, joint locks and weapons.
Based around the studies of Japanese Karate and Taekkyon, Taekwon-Do was created in the 1950s with the kwan style named Ch'ang Hon. The first governing foundation being the International Taekwon-Do Federation for Ch'ang Hon Taekwon-Do created and led by Choi Hong Hi. A martial art based around weaponless self-defense applying arm, hand, foot and leg techniques and mainly focused on standing or jumping applications of techniques. Commonly known as "tae" (跆) - meaning foot; "kwon" (拳) - fist, and "do" (道) – meaning way/path/law. Tournament sparring allows the use of hands and feet in combat and permits semi-contact strikes to the face and body above the hip with use of both striking elements.
This is a modern martial art that is based on Korean style kicking and punching techniques mixed with karate. Much of its emphasis is on sparring. Taekwondo is now an Olympic sport.
Tangsudo literally means 'Tang-influenced techniques'. Tang Soo Do is the Korean pronunciation of the old way of writing (唐手道, i.e. "Way of the Chinese Hand"); for many years, Koreans referred to their striking martial art as Tang Soo Do and Kong Soo Do (the Korean pronunciation of Kōngshǒudào (空手道), "Way of the Empty Hand"). In the West, Tang Soo Do often refers specifically to Hwang Kee's style.
Tong-Il Moo-Do (The Unified Martial Arts)
Tong-Il Moo-Do is a Korean style that combines circular and linear movemets or hard and soft aspect of the moo-do (martial arts). It is similar to modern Mixed Martial Arts. Tong-Il Moo-Do combines kicking and punching techniques with throwing and grappling.
Tukong Moosul (특공무술/特攻武術)
Tukong Moosul literally means 'techniques of the Korean Special Forces' and is a style based on the distance theory. The martial artist practicing Tukong is trained in four areas: Throwing (leverage techniques), Punching (hand techniques), Kicking (foot techniques), and Weapons (extended body techniques). Training also includes combat training and self defense. Tukong is practiced in conjunction with a softer style martial art (Ip San).
Kang Duk Wo
A martial art that places more emphasis on punching than kicking.
A modern combination of taekwondo, hankido, ssireum and judo developed at Yong-In University.
A spacial training to win games by all kinds of cheating. It has filtered into all the modern Korean martial arts, especially taekwondo.
This is a martial art style combining hapkido, kyuktoogi, judo and hakko-ryu jujitsu.
Korean martial arts styles
Choi Kwang-Do ·Gwonbeop ·Kong Soo Do ·Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo ·Subak ·Taekwondo ·Tae Soo Do ·Tang Soo Do
Hapki yusul ·Ssireum ·Yusul
Gungdo ·Haidong Gumdo ·Hankumdo ·Korean swordsmanship ·Kumdo ·Shim Gum Do
GongKwon Yusul ·Hankido ·Han Mu Do ·Hapkido ·Hwa Rang Do ·Kichun ·Kouk Sun Do ·Kuk Sool Won ·Kuk Sul Do ·Kung-fu ·Kung Jung Mu Sul ·Kunmudo ·Seon-Kwan-Moo ·Shippalgi ·Taekkyeon
Hyeong ·Dobok ·Dojang ·Kwans ·Sae Sok O-Gye ·Muyejebo ·Muyesinbo ·Muyedobotongji ·Hwarang ·Ssaurabi
Choi Kwang-Do ·GongKwon Yusul ·Han Mu Do ·Hankido ·Hankumdo ·Hapkido ·Kichun ·Kong Soo Do ·Kouk Sun Do ·Kuk Sul Do ·Kuk Sool Won ·Kumdo ·Kung-fu ·Kung Jung Mu Sul ·Kunmudo ·Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo ·Shim Gum Do ·Soo Bahk Do ·Sunmudo ·Taekwondo ·Tae Soo Do ·Tang Soo Do
Gungdo ·Haidong Gumdo ·Hwa Rang Do ·Seon-Kwan-Moo ·Ssireum ·Subak ·Taekkyeon