Monday, July 4, 2011

Kendo vs. Kumdo 검 도

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a martial arts tournament in Osan a friend of mine was taking part in. I knew my friend Matt had been practicing martial arts but my level of knowledge pretty much ended there. The form of martial arts he studies in is Kumdo (검 도), or Kendo, as it is originally called in Japan.
Kendo is a modern Japanese martial art, that has been appropiated to fit into Korean culture (and renamed as Kumdo 검 도). The word means 'Way of the Sword'. Kumdo is a sword fighting based activity combining martial arts values with sports like physical elements.
So the impressive part was that not only was he taking part in this tournament, but.... he was also one half of the pair of fighters chosen to perform for the opening ceremony. Did I mention he was the only foreigner participating? In a sea of Korean, he was a sparkling Canadian representing. I couldn't help feeling proud.
It all kicked off at 9am on a Sunday morning which was a little tough to swallow, but I am so glad I was there for it. Matt had his own personal (mostly Canadian based) cheering squad supporting him, along with his fellow Kumdo students.
He rocked the opening ceremomy. There was the typical Korean platform set up with lots of  talk and speeches, rounds of applause and general yawning. From there, Matt and another female student took front and center in the sports auditorium and off they went. For the ceremony they practiced a more traditonal, less aggresive version of Kumdo, amazing and beautiful to watch (not to mention listen to, as Kumdo is a very vocal sport with lots of yelling and battle calls). It was really impressive. I have no idea how, as a foreigner, he scored the honour to kick things off, but kudos to him.
After the ceremony things started of with the kids jabbing and stabbing eachother. Next went the women and then finally the men. A lot of it was lost in translation, and to be honest, I didn't fully understand all the rules of engagement. All I know is that it was really great to watch the sport and made even more fun cause we knew someone taking part. Aside from the early wake up call (and the flat tire I got on my bike riding over there), it was a great Sunday morning. Congrats to Matt for doing such a great job and taking part in it.

Here are some of the photos from the event.

Canada in a sea of Korea

A small portion of the equipment

Opening Ceremony

Matt's Kumdo Match 

Matt flying through the air 

Go Team Canada!

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