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  1. What is Kumdo?

  2. How did Kumdo Originate?

  3. The Rules of Kumdo

  4. The Purposes of Kumdo

  5. Characteristics of Kumdo and Results

  6. How to Watch a Kumdo Match

  7. Kumdo Armor and Sword

Kumdo is Asian fencing. It is also as known as 'Kendo'. The word, Kumdo, translates as: "Kum", which means "sword" and "Do", which means "way" or "martial art". The literal translation would be the "Way of the Sword" or "Sword Martial Art". Using a simulated sword made of bamboo slats, and wearing armor, the kumdoist competes against an opponent according to an established way of scoring points within regulations. It is excellent training for one's mental and physical discipline. Rigorous training will develop stamina and endurance, increase agility and flexibility, enhance mental concentration and alertness, and promote all around well-being.

What is Kumdo?

what is kumdo

How did Kumdo Originate?


It is speculated that the origination of Kumdo began as sword fights by local children. From its beginning, it has evolved for thousands of years to its present Kumdo level. In Korea, Kumdo grew rapidly from being a game played by children only to a game for adults who organized tournaments that were given different names in different regions of the country.


There is evidence that at about the same time in history, around 1500 B.C., there was some type of stick fighting in the form of games being conducted in Egypt. Similarly, in Europe and around the world, Fencing became a very popular sport. Fencing originated in Italy and spread rapidly in popularity to Spain, England, France and Germany. The official Language of fencing is French. Other countries have similar sports with different names, such as Escrime and Scherma. These games are, in fact, all identical.


Similarly, modern Kumdo began only about 100 years ago. The original name was quite different from the current name, i.e. Gyuk-Kum. In 1910, the name was changed to Kumdo. In1970, the first international tournament was held. Since that time, Kumdo has become a world-class sport. As the customs and artifacts of many generations of the Korean civilization were introduced into Japan, so, too, was Kumdo along with the influence of the Chinese civilization.


Improvements in Kumdo as we know it today are attributed to Japan where Kumdo is called "Kendo". As civilizations evolved, so has the sword sport to their current form depending on their world location--East or West. These sports are, however, fundamentally the same. People who are unfamiliar with the Eastern version of sword sports may simply refer to Kumdo as "Asian Fencing". 

Rules of Kumdo


    There are one main and two supporting references, in the game of modern Kumdo. Each point gets counted only when at least two out of three references acknowledge the point within total limited games time(3-5minutes). The general rule to win is to be the first person with two points. If there are no points counted within the allotted time, an extension is granted - who ever wins the next point is deemed the winner of the match. If there are no points by end of the extended match, there will be a decision made by the references.


The areas of attack that will be counted to the point system are a hit to the head, waist, wrist and jab to the neck. In order for points to be acknowledged by the references, the attack must be well defined, clear, precise, intentional, sound of an attack and the final pose of the finishing touch.

Purposes of Kumdo


 Individual physical and mental righteousness which leads to the well being of society and follow the strength of country.
For this matter;

1. Caring about others and having a loving personality to the true Kumdo practitioner. Kumdo does not hate or have revenge for others, but rather, cares for, loves and helps others.

2. Do not refuse to or escape from the righteous fight--which is unavoidable. Always fight for the good.

3. Rules and etiquette are essential components of Kumdo. Respect for others and showing sincerity by practicing proper Kumdo etiquette is appropriate and necessary. During practice or at tournaments, one will not abuse any power, but be humble, knowing that this leads to the true Kumdo practitioner. Furthermore, the spirit and rules of Kumdo shall apply where appropriate even in the environment outside of the Kumdo arena.

4. Both physical and mental training with continuing studies and proper recognition of a given situation are all required to perfect and master Kumdo.

5. Recognition as a Kumdo practitioner relies upon honor--keeping one's promise and being responsible for ones speech and actions

Characteristics and Results of Kumdo


Kumdo requires lots of physical movements and yet, concentration and suspension is still intact.


Without intensive concentration and focus, one cannot dodge the attack by opponents. Therefore, mental training is a must in modern Kumdo.  Kumdo does not differentiate between men and women, children and elders. This is a sport that one can enjoy at all levels over a long period of time. At every different level, one can simply enjoy Kumdo with others without incurring any injuries.


It also builds enough intensity from the ground up. Hence, the body can naturally adapt to the current intensity level. One can enjoy an exciting and thrilling real life experience from the training. Young people, especially, will learn how to adapt and control their energy level in many different paces. Kumdo also increases blood flow to prevent heart disease and high blood pressure for adults.

How to Watch a Kumdo Match

how to watch

The four main target areas, each worth one point are struck with hits to the head (Mu-ri), the torso (waist, Hu-ri), the wrist (Son-mok), or a thrust to the throat (Jji-rem).


The competitors must call their attempted strikes with a strong voice (Ki hap), and blows must be delivered with the upper third of the bamboo sword's blade (Jook-do). Although it may appear that many cuts are finding their targets in the course of the match, a successful stroke must be coordinated with correct footwork, powerful Ki-hap, good posture and strong follow-through.


The three referees indicate points by raising blue and white flags overhead: at least two must agree for the point to be awarded. A fast criss-cross of the flags at hip level means the official did not consider a cut valid. The match is halted after each successful point and resumed at center-court. Two good points delivered simultaneously cancel one another, however, the match is not stopped.


Penalties are given for stepping out of bounds, dropping one's Jook-do, and poor sportsmanship. If a contestant accumulates two such penalties in the course of a match, one point is awarded to the opponent, individual matches are fought for two points over a time period of 3 minutes. A scoreless or tied match may be extended until a deciding point is scored.


Team competitions are ordinarily comprised of five member teams whose opposing pairs face each other in turn, finishing with the team captains. The winning team is determined either by a majority of winners or the total number of points scored.

Kumdo Armor and Sword

armor and sword

Kendo armor is typically called kendo "bogu" or "hogu".

There are four parts.

1. Men(Helm or Helmet; Mask; Ho-myun)--- protects the head, face, throat, ears, and shoulders.

2. Do(Cuirass; breastplate; Gahb) --- protects the torso, chest, belly, and waist. Usually made from bamboo, it is also available in fiberglass or molded, high impact plastic.

3. Tare(Waist armor; Gladiator skirt; Gahb-sahng) --- a type of apron that protects the thighs, hips, and groin from inadvertent hitting. It is not a target and you should always avoid hitting anyone on the tare. It is made entirely from heavily quilted cotton. Sometimes it is trimmed with leather.

The tare is extremely flexible and allows a great range of motion in the hips and legs.

The center flap is usually covered by a cloth bag (name tag ; zekken) that usually displays the dojo name, perhaps the school logo or mark(insignia) in the center, and the fencer's family name on the bottom.

4. Kote(Gauntlets; Gloves; Ho-wahn) --- protects the hands and forearms.

As you know, the most basic piece of equipment is the bamboo sword in kendo. The kumdo stick called shinai. Shinai is constructed of four shafts of split bamboo, bound with a leather grip and cap, and leather thong wound three times around the shafts, all tied together by a nylon chord (back string; tsuru) running from tip to hilt.


Additionally, a round hand guard is slipped over the grip and held in place by a rubber holder. The tip of the shinai is referred to as the kensen(sword tip). The striking surface of the shinai, called monouchi(valid part), is the first one third of the shinai visible from the grip (tsuka) to kensen. When striking a target you must strike with this portion of the shinai in order for the strike to be considered valid.

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