Siljun Dobup FAQ


These days many people are interested in real sword training but they are not sure where to start. I too had doubts and questions when I started. Questions such as, “Is real sword practice really necessary as a Kumdo student?”, “How will this training help?”, “Specifically what should I start doing?”and so forth. I will answer the questions that I had and will use my experience starting out in Real Sword Practice.

When is it a good time to start Real Sword training during Kendo training?

When you practice Kendo, there are phases in your training. The first phase is, your body does not cooperate so you work on stances and movements. This involves learning to relax, increased physical fitness and learning to coordinate your step, your spirit and your body movements. Then you realize you have fear and anxiety against the attacking opponent and these in turn seem as though all of being calm and unwavering.

This is the time you really appreciate the essence of Kendo and realize that it is becoming more and more difficult. Through repetitious training, you achieve centeredness of mind and the power of Ki, can be greatly improved. You learn the principle of sword and it helps you get rid of unnecessary movements and techniques.

Real Sword training:What do you start with?

The answer will be standardized but you should start with the drawing and replacing of the sword. Real Sword can be deadly because even small mistakes can cause harm of injury. You necessarily need much concentration and focus with Teal Sword. To reduce the burdensome feeling about the sword and to understand more deeply sword traing the drawing and replacement of the sword has to be emphasized and repeated. As training experience increases, many people commonly are attracted to the drawing and replacement of the sword more than the actual striking or cutting techniques.

The Scabbard. After training of drawing and replacement techniques the familiarity of sword will appear. The forms training is the next step for improving stances and techniques. In my case, I practiced trainig of the form are the most important part of Real Sword training. Then, after much training, we practice cutting.

The Essence of each movement in cutting.

I will summarize the essence of each movement based on the eight-direction cutting. Practice with vertical downward strikes to learn the feeling of the path of the sword. The importance is the principle of the circle. Concentrate on not pushing with the right hand, not bending the left wrist and not letting the tip of the sword go first. Cut with the central force of the body and keep your back straight for balance. with the central force of the body and keep your back straight for balance.

The angle of the blade is very important in diagonal cutting. Paying close attention to the whistling sound of the sword will help you in traing. Also, concentrate on maintaining the center of balance in the mid-ssection and the back, especially being careful not to extend the shoulder. A good rule of thumb is to keep a straight line between your nose and belly button. One practical training tool is to use a roll of toilet paper suspended. from the ceiling. This will aid you in practicing diagonal down and diagonal up cutting techniques. You can check the blade angle and principle of circle with this style practice.

The circular principle and left to right and right to left balance shift is very important in diagonal slice upward cutting technique. The stable form after the cutting is also very important. It is common to have twisted the waist. This can be alleviated with appropriately straightening the elbow during this strike.

During the horizontal strike, it is difficult to maintain the blade in a horizontal manner. Slightly angling it down will result in a horizontal balad path. The momentum shift point is important. If you visualize the golf or baseball swing it will be helpful. That is, use the left hand to make a big arch and rather then turning the waist only, shift your weight into the impact of the moment. The impact moment is squeezing the wrist as we pierce with the waist. Thus we learn circular principal blade angle, momentum shift and central power cutting theory are understood with basic cutting practice.

The relationship between Real Sword training and bamboo sword sparring.

As I train in cutting techniques, I can see the contrast with bamboo sword sparring During sparring, the important aspect is relationship to the moving oppoent. However, during cutting practice you are striking a non-moving target while taking your tome and optimzing breathing and so on. Thus, this brings the question of, “Am I just using techmiques to cut a dead object?” This is the result of the fact that drawing techmiques and form routines ard done separate of each other. It is like in a western movie. The gun fighter has to quickly draw the gun and accurately hit. Cutting is training for accuracy. Sparring is training for speed. To accomplish the drawing motion and cutting motion with a good flow and no extra time it is essential that one be able to see the moving the resulting adjustments the synergistc effect of two training benefits can be expected.

Which sword to use.

If you watch the Kendo competition matches, you can see the difference between the high school athletes, college athletes and senior division athletes. A s experience is accumulated you lose more of the less efficient movements and realize the importance of basic techmiques even more, Real Sword is the same way. At first the more techmical cutting and more fancy techmiques draw your interest. However, emphasizing posture and basic slicing is more effective in improving you techmiques. For that purpose, rather than recently popular”Sam gak do”(wider sworrds) I recommend longer, straighter sword with a groove. The Sam gak do is lighter and resistance to cutting is weak, thus possibly maneuverable with a snap of the wrist. This easily emphasizes speed and multiple strikes. Where as the long straight sword emphasizes the understanding of momentum shift strength in the center of dan jun (source of force located near the mid-section)

Final Words. Our purpose for studying Real Sword is not to become great technicians and use the sword in war or battle. We’re attempting to find the philosophical elements contained in the training for self-actualization. The answer that we are looking for may be in the phrase stated by deceased Grand Master Kim, Young Dar, “Sword likes circle and hates angle.” The importance is not the end result of techmical expertise but the respect and alertness maintained during trainging.I hope this article will help those who are beginning their Real Sword training in the spring of this new millenium.

By Master Jin K. Seong(Kyosa 7th Dan)
Translated from Korean by Linda Hyojung Chin January 2002