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Yongmudo, A Totally New Martial Arts

any Korean boys learn "Taekwondo" even before they attend school and are also taught the sport while they do their military service. However, not that many people pursue Taekwondo once they start their social lives as an ordinary citizen. Taekwondo is a martial arts representing Korea, but only a few people are practicing the sports as Taekwondo participants in international competitions.

"Hapgido" is quite popular but it is difficult to consider it something Korean as it is widely practiced in Japan as "Akido." However, there is a general martial art called "Yongmudo," which combines the techniques of Taekwondo, Hapgido, Judo, Fencing and Ssireum. The term Yongmudo represents that it is a martial arts (mudo) invented by field experts and professors of Yongin University, a school specializing in the education of martial arts and sports since 1953.

The movements of Yongmudo were devised over two years by professors and former gold medallists of Judo, Fencing, oriental martial arts, Taekwondo, and self-defense. Giving its first demonstration of Yongmudo at an international martial arts camp in August 1999, Yongin University conducted a tour exhibition in each state of the United States in April and May last year and this year some of the school's graduates were employed as Yongmudo instructors overseas, including the US.

Currently, Yongmudo is part of the oriental martial arts department. “Bodyguard Department” majors take Yongmudo as a compulsory minor subject, however, Yongmudo is soon to be established as an independent department of its own.

Receiving approval from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as an incorporated body, the school plans to inaugurate the World Yongmudo Association on June 18 and hold an international summer training camp at Yongin University's gymnasium in July. About a hundred Americans have already applied to take part in the camp.

Kim Byeong-cheon, the chairman of the World Yongmudo Association, taught Hapgido at Yongin University for thirty years and is now a businessman in charge of 1,000 employees working at Bokwang, Bokwang Industrial Co and Bokwang Construction. Kim described Yongmudo as a third generation martial arts; the first being one of action, the second of mental endurance, and the third a combination of the two. Kim added that Yongmudo consists of a fusion of martial arts technique, which is divided into three levels of difficulty ("dan"), elementary, intermediate and advanced, and that knowledge of Yongmudo would be useful in personal self-defense.

(Weekly Chosun, Seo Il-ho, ihseo@chosun.com)

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