Won Kum Do
“Full circle of the sword” As deep as the ocean and as grand as Mount Everest
Men and women through the ages have practiced sword to tone their bodies and sharpen their minds. The foundation of Wonkumdo is ten attacks; ten blocks; slide steps with basic patterns that are in a plus sign, circle, triangle and square; in addition to break falling with the sword. The next level is learning the 24 letters of the Korean alphabet (Han Gul), which will set you on the journey to perfection and mastery of the sword.
Beginners start with empty hands. Next they use a wood sword (Mok Kum), bamboo sword (Juk Kum), then an aluminum or steel practice sword (Ka Kum). They use the Mok Kum for cutting paper and snuffing candles, then progress to cutting vegetables/fruit with the aluminum or steel swords, which are fairly blunt. They can then cut foam noodles and work their way up to using live blades (razor-sharp swords).
After you master the quick draw and return, you will be able to use a real forged-steel (Jin Kum) sword safely and practice cutting bamboo, straw and other material, such as rope. Advanced swordsmanship gets into spinning and jumping techniques, plus one-handed swordplay. Wonkumdo is simple in nature but contains sophisticated techniques. It has fewer forms than other sword arts, but the sword strokes are modeled off the Korean alphabet. It is a balanced sword art where you use big circles (spinning) that create a very powerful centrifugal force along with flowing movements where you apply the water theory.
All the sword techniques are practiced with the right and the left hands using mirror images. Circle, water and harmony, balance (which in Korean is called “Tae Kuk”) are the philosophical concepts incorporated into Wonkumdo.
In ancient times the sword was used for battle and protection; today we use it for exercise. We use the 24 letters of the Korean alphabet by tracing each letter in the air. You are learning to become a sword master, a swashbuckler, and at the same time learning to write Korean. In addition, it is a very effective way to stay healthy, physically and mentally. The late Great Grandmaster Jae Nam Myong developed Hankumdo, and I, who am an American Grandmaster of an ancient Korean art, developed and derived my newest and latest sword art. I have laid out my curriculum so you can teach any age. In my style you use the same strokes with the sword to trace the letters in the air as you would as if writing with a pen so that you can actually read and write Korean.
First, you learn to say the 24 letters. Then you write them. Then you trace them in the air right-handed and mirror images with the sword, then left-handed along with mirror images. You also trace them on the ground with your feet, right/left mirror images on the floor or in the sand. The most challenging is to trace the letters with the sword and at the same time slide with your feet, tracing the letters, both at the same time with the sword stroke and your feet using sliding steps.
In Wonkumdo, we use the Korean alphabet, but we have a lot of other sword techniques. Doing a lot of spinning and jump spinning cuts, our style progresses from a very simple practical technique to some very fancy techniques. Most martial arts have many forms or patterns (hyung) or (poomsae). We have a few, but not like other arts. I teach everyone to make their own form as well. You learn to write your name in Korean in your sword form, so you will eventually make your own form, and then be required to perform it right- and left-handed.
You will also learn how to incorporate all the concepts into your form, using the same philosophical concepts as calligraphy. We have a saying that “If you cannot stand and you try to run, you will fall over.” If someone cannot do the basics and tries something fancy, it looks like a joke. So first you learn form. Then you master the moves, and when you do it enough, there is no thought. So you can start to concentrate on making it look good, and then there is no form.
So first there is form, then no form. First you have to think about each movement. Then when it is mastered, there is no thought, like a dance. You get to dance with a sword and try to make it look cool when you’re doing it. The philosophy of Gong literally means “zero” or “no form.” Moo Shim translated to English means “nothing” and Shim means “heart,” which means “to empty the heart and mind.” It also means “no thought” when you can perform the techniques properly, wailing the sword. Then you’re on the way to becoming a master swashbuckler --this is the art of the sword. A martial art is not just what is practical but looks cool when you watch it. It is an expression of yourself--enjoy!
Grandmaster Gagne has a distance learning program for three martial arts, Hapkido - Wankido - Wankumdo. It consists of 16 videos and seven books that you can download off his web site www.MarshallGagne.com He is also a martial arts business coach. With his 45 years of martial art experience, he is eager to share all his knowledge with everyone. If you are tired of struggling to keep your school open, call 828-894-9424. Your first phone consultation is free.