The rules and the equipment are almost the same as those of kendo because the two have only been allowed to diverge since 1945. Kumdo tournaments have abandoned some elements of Japanese culture, such as the squatting bow (sonkyo) performed by competing kumsa or kenshi at the beginning and end of a match. The hogu (í˜¸êµ¬; é˜²å…·), or armor, are often simplified compared to kendo’s bogu. The scoring flags are different as well; blue and white instead of the red and white found in kendo.
While many practice with the same uniform as kendo, usually indigo-blue, kumdo practitioners have been willing to change elements of the uniform including the colour and other modifications. Many wear hakama without a koshita and use velcro instead.
particular, the Korean national team wears white keikogi or dobok with black trim and stripes on their hakama, in contrast to the all indigo-blue worn by kendo practitioners.
This style of uniform has become popular among kumdo dojang both in Korea and in countries like the United States, which have a substantial Korean population.
Forms practiced by kumdo practitioners include the Bonguk Geombop (ë³¸êµê²€ë²•, æœ¬åœ‹åŠæ³•), Chosun Se Bup (ì¡°ì„ ì„¸ë²•, æœé®®å‹¢æ³•) and the ten kendo forms or bon or kendo no kata (ê²€ë„ì˜ë³¸, åŠæ³•å½¢) standardized by the FIK.
Proficiency with these forms is required for rank promotion tests conducted by the Korea Kumdo Association, the de facto governing body for Korean kumdo, and its overseas affiliates. However, the bon originating from kendo are practiced in a modified manner, omitting the sonkyo bow and using Korean names and terminology in place of the original Japanese.
A few kumdo dojang or schools will also incorporate kuhapdo forms, the Korean variant for iaido in their curriculum as opposed to the typical distinction where iaido is taught as a distinctly different though complementary art, alongside kendo.
While kumdo practitioners can enter and compete in kendo tournaments, they normally compete in their own tournaments for kumdo and avoid kendo tournaments because of a perceived bias against the Korean kumdo style by tournament officials. However, Korea sends a team to the World Kendo Championships or WKC held every three years and have been strong competitors in the past WKCs, with numerous second place finishes in team competition and third place finishes in individual competitions. During the 13th World Kendo Championships held in Taipei, Taiwan from December 8 – 10, 2006, Korea defeated the United States to win the men’s team championship for the first time, the first country other than Japan to win a title at the WKCs. The United States had earlier eliminated the Japanese team during the semi-finals.
Though there are many kumdo organizations, the Korea Kumdo Association (KKA), a member of the Korean Sports Federation and by far the most influential and most dominant kumdo organization, claims to be the only official body for kumdo in Korea and serves as the Korean affiliate for the International Kendo Federation or FIK. Korean representatives to the World Kendo Championships (WKC) are typically chosen by the KKA, as the event is overseen by the FIK. The KKA’s status is similar to that of the All Japan Kendo Federation, which is the dominant body for kendo in Japan and claims to be the only official body, despite the presence of numerous, but smaller kendo organizations.
There are also a number of kumdo dojang outside Korea, primarily where there are large numbers of Korean immigrants, such as the United States. Many of these dojangs choose to be affiliated with overseas branches of kumdo organizations like the KKA rather than the local FIK affiliate for that country. For example, many of the kumdo dojangs in the United States choose to affiliate with an overseas branch of the KKA instead of seeking association with the All United States Kendo Federation (AUSKF), the FIK affiliate for the US. However, because the KKA is a FIK affiliate, rankings awarded by them, are honored and accepted by the other affiliates including the AUSKF. While kumdo practitioners outside Korea will also compete in kendo tournaments, many choose to compete only at tournaments sponsored by a kumdo organization rather than a kendo organization. One example is the Bong-Rim-Gi kumdo tournament held annually in the summer among kumdo schools in the United States and sponsored by an overseas branch of the KKA in the US.
Many Koreans, who remember Japan’s occupation and suppression of Korean culture from 1910 to 1945 and continue to harbour anti-Japanese resentment, practice kumdo claiming that its origins and that of koryu kenjutsu, the forerunner of modern Japanese kendo, lie in ancient Korea. Others concede that Japan is where further refinement of the sword arts took place, some even consider kumdo part of traditional Korean culture, thus claiming kumdo to be as much of a birthright for Koreans as kendo is for Japanese. However, they are willing to admit that the Japanese were instrumental in developing much of the equipment and methodology used in modern kumdo. Others, especially practitioners from the younger generations, admit that the kumdo they practice is essentially Japanese.
In competition, the main differences between kendo and kumdo are stylistic. Kumdo practitioners generally favor a dynamic style of play, focusing on using fast and aggressive small motion strikes to create openings for attacks. Kendo practitioners however, tend to focus on the perfect single strike, waiting patiently to find an opening and the correct timing to land an attack typically larger in motion than a kumdo stylist.
- Korea Kumdo Association (KKA) – the de facto governing organization for kumdo in Korea due to its size and its influence through their heavy promotion of the art in the media. The art promoted by them, Daehan Kumdo (å¤§éŸ“åŠé“), is virtually identical to kendo, with noted changes to reflect Korean cultural influences and methodology, and is the kumdo which Koreans normally refer to. However, it has been criticized for its affiliation with the FIK, which is dominated by practitioners of Japanese kendo, and for developing kumdo along the lines of Japanese kendo. The KKA has established overseas branches in other countries which have substantial Korean populations and have kumdo dojangs or schools. Unlike most of the FIK affiliates, including Japan, they wish to see kumdo/kendo become an Olympic sport as with Judo and Taekwondo. It traditionally claims that kumdo’s origins lie in the Hwarang from ancient Silla.
- World Kumdo Association (WKA) – founded around 2001 as a merger of thirteen of the smaller, rival kumdo organizations, they are critical of the KKA and seek to become a rival to the FIK by having kumdo included in the Olympic games with them as the recognized governing body ahead of the FIK. They are proponents of changes to the format and scoring system, advocating the use of electric scoring as with fencing. Although they have strong political ties with people who were involved in making Taekwondo part of the Olympics, their membership is far smaller in number to that of the KKA and many FIK affiliates. Some WKA officials are noted as being practitioners of taekwondo rather than kumdo. It claims affiliates in other countries as well.
- Haidong Gumdo, founded by members who seceded from the KKA. Haidong Gumdo is significantly modified in style from standard kumdo, emphasizing what they consider a native Korean “battlefield” style of combat over the one-on-one dueling style found in standard or Daehan Kumdo. As such, it is unrelated to modern, standard kumdo, although it also claims to be kumdo.