Taejoon Lee concludes his discussion of hwa rang do's sword-fighting modifications which led to the terms "gumtoogi" (sword combat) and "bongtoogi" (stick combat). As a bonus, he demonstrates a technique using double short swords!

Editor's Note: This article is continued from Hwa Rang Do Weapons: Taejoon Lee and the Korean Martial Art's New Spin on Traditional Sword and Stick Fighting (Part 1).

Circular Attack

Taejoon Lee then launches into an offensive application of the spin, upping the tempo of his footwork and movements. As the first few strikes are executed, it's obvious he's headhunting, unleashing heavy blows at his opponent, who can barely block in time. After each charge, Taejoon Lee backs off a bit more. Finally, he darts in with speed and ferocity, his weapon held high for a head attack. His opponent lifts his sword in hopes of blocking, but Taejoon Lee is one step ahead. Having drawn the man's weapon upward, Taejoon Lee spins underneath, effecting a beautiful belly strike. "A lot of martial artists say that any spinning technique is turning a blind eye to the opponent — they say that as soon as you turn your back, a straight- line technique will dominate you," Taejoon Lee says. "That's true — up to a point." To illustrate, he spins, and his opponent strikes him easily each time he does so. Point made: Using a blind spin without setting up the technique is a Hail Mary play in combat. Taejoon Lee then shows how the hoi-jeon principle should be used: He deflects his opponent's sword to the side, and by the time the man regains his composure and centerline control, he's already been cut. Mentally and physically, Taejoon Lee breaks his balance, drawing him into a specific reaction and capitalizing on the opening that's created.


A Korean martial arts master and a Hollywood actor meet by chance and make a martial arts cult classic! Get the inside story in this FREE download!
Billy Jack Flashback: How Tom Laughlin and Hapkido Techniques Master
Bong Soo Han Made a Martial Arts Cult Classic

Essential Gear

With the modifications Taejoon Lee made to the safety gear, weapons training enters a whole new realm. Angles of attack and defense become less predictable — and more exciting to watch. Best of all, the improvement doesn't apply just to bamboo swords.

Taejoon Lee walks to the side of the ring, lays down his training weapon, picks up two shorter swords and goes to work. Then he switches to a rattan stick, a pair of sticks and a rattan staff. He and his opponent go sword against sword, double short swords against sword, double sticks against staff, and staff against staff, and the flavor of each weapon remains visible throughout.

“When I first implemented sword fighting, we used the standard kumdo format and I referred to it as kumdo," Taejoon Lee says. “But with the new safety armor and the emphasis on wider technique, we now call it gumtoogi (sword combat) or bongtoogi (stick combat)."

Like Against Like

In hwa rang do, impact weapons vie against impact weapons, and bladed weapons vie against bladed weapons because there are major differences in the associated strategies. With a stick or staff, students are allowed to make contact with any part of the shaft. With a sword, however, a cut must use the simulated edge and a thrust must use the tip and target the opponent's throat guard.

“It'd be easy to allow whatever contact to score, but that wouldn't honor the principles of each weapon's strong points," Taejoon Lee says. “Training should honor technique and revolve around principle. Scoring whatever just reinforces sloppy technique and dishonesty."

Related Martial Arts Books, E-Books,
DVDs and Video Downloads

This is Kendo Today

Hwa Rang Do: Defend, Take Down, Submit

Samurai Swordsmanship: The Batto, Kenjutsu and Tameshigiri of Eishin-Ryu

To that end, the spinning leg attacks effected with a simulated sword must be done with one knee touching the floor, and cuts that target the belly must be delivered from a standing position. Although, in reality, an edged weapon could certainly attack a leg from the standing position or the midsection from the kneeling position, the rule forces students to execute deliberate technique with a greater degree of precision. It also makes each move easier for officials to judge at tournaments, where more points are awarded for high-difficulty techniques such as spins.

Ready for Launch

To maximize the propagation of gumtoogi and bongtoogi, the World Hwa Rang Do Association has made the new weapons-sparring format open access. “This is a good program for traditional schools to teach applied weaponry with," Taejoon Lee says. “We took what kendo and kumdo brought to the table, used the majority of the targets and equipment, and modified it to allow for a wider expression of technique using a greater variety of weapons — while maintaining safety and emphasizing clear-cut attacks. For those who practice Korean martial arts weaponry, we've created a sparring format that allows them to express the real flavor of their art and develop the ability to attack at angles they couldn't use before."

As hwa rang do moves forward through its fifth decade, it's especially impressive to see a traditional art whose leadership has such a passion for maintaining and preserving ancient combat skills while applying ingenuity to improve the teaching and training methods. Taejoon Lee's commitment to this makes him one of the martial arts trailblazers of the 21st century.

About the Artist and the Art:

For more information regarding Dr. Joo Bang Lee and Taejoon Lee's organization, visit the World Hwa Rang Do Association home page at hwarangdo.com. “Hwa rang do" is a registered trademark of the World Hwa Rang Do Association.

About the Author:

For more information about Dr. Mark Cheng, visit Dr. Mark Cheng's Facebook page!

SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

Talks About Being a Smaller Fighter in a Combat Sport Ruled by Giants

At first glance, most people — most martial artists, even — will zero in on the smaller person in any fight and deem him or her to be at a distinct disadvantage. It's a natural tendency to draw this conclusion based on obvious attributes such as height, weight and reach. However, that tendency does not always lead to accurate conclusions.

Keep Reading Show less

Intuition is always right in at least two important ways. It is always in response to something. It always has your best interest at heart. ­— Gavin de Becker

When intuition grabs our attention to warn us of danger in our surroundings, it often feels like an alarm going off in our body. When danger is present, the sensation we feel, in the words of some people, is like an electric current that starts in the gut and radiates outward. Others have described the feeling as a chill running up the spine or a generalized lack of comfort.

The commonality is a definite sense of unease, a nagging feeling that won't go away. There also might be a flash of insight or a sensation that comes to us, one that we never sought out.

Keep Reading Show less

Bellator 242 Official Fight Bard

Bellator 242 will officially be the promotions return to the spotlight on July 24th since canceling its remaining events due to COVID earlier this year. The main event for the card will feature Ricky Bandejas vs. Sergio Pettis.

As promoters and fans alike begin to settle in to the new normal, Bellator MMA has announced it will resume fights beginning with Bellator 242 July 24th. With UFC, One Championship, Invicta FC, and many other small promotions having already returned fans have been anxiously awaiting Bellators next move.

Keep Reading Show less

ONE Championship is set to return on July 31 in Bangkok, and now the full card has been finalized with four ONE Super Series bouts and two mixed martial arts affairs.

Previously announced was the top of the ticket with two title tilts and an epic trilogy bout of two high-profile signees making their organizational debut.

In the main event, Rodtang Jitmuangnon puts his ONE Flyweight World Championship on the line against Petchdam Petchyindee Academy. This will also be a trilogy bout for the headliners with the series even at 1-1.

Keep Reading Show less
Free Bruce Lee Guide
Have you ever wondered how Bruce Lee’s boxing influenced his jeet kune do techniques? Read all about it in this free guide.
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter