“Your mind is not your own.” The words imparted to me by Master Seong during my first lesson resonate in
my mind each day since first I heard them. I initially walked into the dojang with little knowledge of the path
I was about to embark on or the challenges I would face, but I quickly realized I was in the right place. Focus
and discipline were aspects of myself I knew I wished to improve, but I did not realize the large gap between
my mind and body. My mind had little control over my body and even less control over my own thoughts and
patterns of thought.
This became evident the first time I tried to draw and sheath my sword. I felt almost handicapped, like my
arms were disconnected from their control mechanism within my brain. Despite looking relatively easy, it
was a challenging, frustrating, and even embarrassing exercise. The new movements were almost rejected by
my body. It was as if it was rebelling against the instructions my mind was issuing. However, by opening
my mind to my Master’s instruction, believing in his words, and allowing my mind to remain open, I began to
realize a relatively rapid improvement.
As time progressed, I began to learn the basic cuts that would become the foundation of all future training.
Slowly, but sure I was able to attain a rudimentary grasp of the motions involved in the proper drawing,
cutting, and sheathing. Through practice and instruction, my ability improved enough that I was able to
advance to the first of five stages in the training of Siljun Dobup, Set Jee.
Set Jee, the Earth, is the true beginning of my training. The Earth is both our beginning and our end. It is the
element that allows us to spring forth into life, but it is also our final destination as we are returned to it in
death. It is the most primal and essential aspect of all life, without it, nothing would exist in our reality as we
know it. This is much the same in our training. Set Jee is the cornerstone that allows all other stages to flow
forth and branch from it. The growth of these branches stems as much from the midset of Jee, as it does from
its physical counterparts.
The ability to become empty and open your mind to Master’s teachings is of paramount importance to Set Jee.
When most of us begin our training, we do so full of preconceived notions, ego and pride. It is often difficult
to set these things aside and open yourself to the ideas of another, let alone accepting and embracing them,
but this is the most important aspect of the lessons learned in Set Jee. Set aside your self, become empty, and
allow yourself to be filled anew with the teachings of Siljun Dobup. Through practice of this basic principal, I
look forward to continuing my training and growth. As the chasm that separates my mind and body narrows, I
continuously gain a better understanding of myself. This is the true gift of my training.
Jee, Soo, Poong, Hwa, and Chun Progression to Spiritual Enlightenment
Written by Andre DaSilva
It comes to a point in life that some of us may seek to achieve enlightenment through focus, concentration, meditation and perfection when practicing martial arts. When I was 8 years old, I started practicing martial arts and many years have passed since then. At first, practicing Brazilian Jujitsu with a great Brazilian master and champion. Once I accomplished black belt level, I transition to a new dojo to practice Capoeira and Karate, where there were many foreign masters. At that time, there were many people leaving Asia and migrating to Brazil.
In this new dojo, I had the opportunity to learn from Korean and Japanese masters a variety of styles such as; Tae Kwan Do, Aikido and Boxing, but never following the ranks, but only analyzing the forms and the dimensions of those martial arts in combat practices. When I graduated black belt level in Karate, I had the chance to meet a few great Chinese masters and was exposed to incredible things, which would be very hard to explain, that probably only heard in tails, which unfortunately have been lost as these great masters pass away and take with them what they have learned. This experience changed me, and thereafter I decided to focus only into internal martial arts, transitioning to Kung Fu (focusing on two styles, one being internal, Chinese sword and weapons) and Tai-Chi-Chuan (sole Internal).
Time went by and I became Tai-Chi-Chuan Master, and during that time a great Kung Fu Master friend of mind, knowing my love for swords told me that a small group Japanese executives practice Japanese sword up in a nearby mountain every weekend, but not open to the public. In those days, it was very hard to find unique martial art dojos, where today we have it everywhere. I pursued and was accepted; joining them and for the first time introduced to Kendo, where I also had an opportunity to occasionally practice basic forms of Iaido.
After few years practicing, I decided to only focus in Kendo (Japanese Sword) and Tai-Chi-Chuan as mainstream for my enlightenment path. Unfortunately my life style changed and I stopped practicing martial arts for a brief period time. But life is quite strange, where takes me into different paths, and after many years I came to find a great Korean master who gave me the opportunity to meet again what I once lost.
Practicing Siljun Dobup gives me great joy and gets me closer to the path I once had, being one with the sword and empty minded. Set Jee, Soo, Poong, Hwa, and Chun is a progression to improve oneself and advance in spirit.
Starting with set Jee as the foundation to build “Ki” and evolve further into a mental state of mind that is manifested through the forms. Set Jee is a very import set which execute skillful technique through ones cutting stroke of the sword. Building breath control, which is the basis of proper cutting, where in absence, becomes weak and unsteady, and the basic forms cutting strategy, which will lead to strengthen the body. Such physiological and physical education increase ones mental power to build the foundation of Siljun Dobup which gains full control over the inner spirit. It is very important to understand the physical reality when demonstrating mastery in certain aspects, and being confirmed in it, allowing practitioners to overcome inertia. During this period practitioners will be learning the initial forms of the art, where the sword cuts become precise, and efficient in motion. The patience and self-control will allow the practitioner to achieve much higher levels, progressing further into a proper state of mind as the fundamental basis of the Siljun Dobup.
The progression to set Soo brings an appreciation and satisfaction for the efforts the practitioner undergoes as mastery begins to manifest. The harmony of such activities and stillness, develop the mental power and spontaneous action which arises from mastering set Jee. The transition to set Soo transcends to a new element that creates the opposite effect of the prior set giving flexibility and rhythm. The execution of this technique carries out a greater energy which allows to flow through the body into the sword without any discriminating thought revealed as one. Such feeling of water running through a mountain stream, but powerful river that changes the landscape as it passes through. As water rises unexpectedly, it overflows all at once all around us, uncontrollable as set Soo represents.
Set Poong advances even further as the body motion and the sword harmonized in one motion. When making the sudden movement a balance must be achieve as we are calm and still, and “Ki” extends outward. There can be no space between the intent and the act on, so that the technique may be performed without hesitation and at the instant that they are needed. The motion should be like a wind, as it moves slowly at first and then accelerate within a huge momentum when built up. The final motion should have the feeling of an explosion, as if a storm bursts through. This technique is a reaction movement and relies on being faster than an opponent.
Set Hwa is an advance technique which requires a great level of “Ki”, which would have been collected as a practitioner progress through the set Jee, Soo and Poong. This technique intimidates an opponent, and builds up an enormous amount of power for the person performing it. It allows a stronger action as fire destroys everything on its path. There is no separation between the attitudes a practitioner should maintain during this set, it is quite strong. The inner aspects must remain unaffected and calm, but at the same time with enormous energy. This technique requires experience, and to be able to generate great “Ki” and coordination of mind and body.
Set Chum bring all together as in converges in harmony and spiritual enlightenment. It has further and deeper meanings and should be carefully understood. It encompasses the merge of all elements and brings into harmony. All differences converge here with the sword. The “Ki” requires a balance between the elements and control to achieve the spiritual awareness required to
transcend the all other things around us. The spiritual aspect does not provide enough visible results, but involves; with hard work, diligence, and persistence, a different result that make exercise worth the effort. But only few can provide the spiritual discipline and experiential realization.
In summary, Siljun Dobup takes considerable level of effort and dedication to achieve a state of mind that is not occupied by thought or emotion, and practicing continuously will allow us to achieve the physical and spiritual enlightenment we seek. And that is why I practice Siljun Dobup.
몇년에 걸쳐 나를 끈질기게 쫓아다닌 검도에 입문한지도 어느덧 2년이 다 되어간다. 열심을 냈다기보다, 단지, 중도하차를 하거나 게으름을 피워 맥을 끊지는 말자는 각오로 임한 시간들이었다. 검도를통해 내 인생의 새 막이 열리겠구나 하는 막연하지만 확고한 믿음이 있었다. 지난 40년과는 또 다른 형태의 새로운 경험을 하게될 것 이라는 것도 예감했다. 지난 2년은 그런 의미에서 나의 삶의 지경을 넓혀나가는 감사한 시간이었다.검도가 단순한 운동이 아님을 알아차린 순간부터 죽도를 잡는 시간은 나에게 기대, 기쁨, 실망 그리고부담등을 꾸준히 안겨주고 있다. 우리들의 삶이 그러하듯. 나를 비롯해 주변 관원들의 검도 하는 모습을 보고 있노라면 어쩌면 이리도 우리들의 평소 모습이 고스란히 드러날 수 있는지 신기할 따름이다.그런 의미에서 도장은 우리네 인생의 축소판이라는 생각마저 든다. 내가 알고 있는 너와 나의 장점, 단점, 그리고 도저히 어쩔수 없는 한계등.. 잠시 대련을 하고 있다 보면 상대방의 기질과 속마음이 적나라하게 드러난다. 쉽사리 적응이 안되는 부분은 나의 모습이 나 자신에게 그리고 상대방에게 영락없이 드러난다는 점이다. 너무나도 괴로운 순간이다. 그 순간을 외면하고 싶은 마음에 검도가 부담으로 다가온것도 사실이다. 도장 밖에서의 나의 습관과 틀이 죽도를 쥐고있는 동안 고스란히 재현되고, 꼼작없이 무기력해진다.성경 한 자락에 이러한 구절이 있다. ” 너의 대적이 네게 복종하리니..네가 그들의 높은 곳을 밟으리로다..” 어느 유단자가 나의 검도 하는 모습을 보고 이런 말을 한 적이 있다. “상대방을 보고 위축되는것이 아니라 나 스스로에게 백기를 들어서 상대방의 머리치기가 힘겨운 것이다… “. “그 문제는 더미를상대로 매일 머리치기를 500 번씩 하면 풀리기 시작할 것이다” 라고. 언뜻, 매우 당연하고 단순한 사실인듯 하지만 이 말에 중요한 진리가 담겨 있음을 시간이 지나면서 깨닫게 된다. 검도를 하면서 우리는스파링 상대와 마주 하는 것이 아닌 우리 자신과 독대 한다. 얼마나 스스로와의 싸움이 대단하면 성경에서 “대적” 이라는 표현이 사용 됐을까 싶다. 유일무이한 최대의 적이리라… 감사하고, 놀랍게도, 검도는 나에게 가장 커다란 과제를 안겨주었고 동시에 그 해결책까지 제시해주고있다. 나는 지난 40년 동안나름대로의 집중적인 기도생활을 통해 모든 상황과 과제에 접근해갔다. 그리고 결국 그러한 정신적(영적) 행위로 적지않은 열매들을 목격했다. 기적을 목격했다. 마음으로 마음도 움직이고 몸도 움직이고상황도 움직인 셈이다. 검도를 처음 접한 순간 생소한 나머지 당황하고 정체되는 순간들이 있었지만, 결국 같은 이야기라는 것을 알게 된다. 이제는 몸 수련을 통해 몸을 움직이고 마음을 주관하고 더 나아가상황마저 움직이는 다음 장에 들어선 것이다. 새 경지를 바라보게 된다. 이미 시작 되었고, 기대가 된다.종국에는 나의 대적이 나에게 “복종” 하게 될 것 임을 성경은 말하고 있다. 우리 모두 방법과 때의 면에서는 차이가 있겠지만, 결국은 한 곳을 향해 나아가고 있음을 말해주고 있는 대목이다. 우리 모두 한번의 삶을 살던, 아님 혹자가 얘기하듯 여러번의 삶을 살게되던, 예외없이 자신을 직시하는 상황에 놓이게 되고, 그 상황을 은혜롭게 뛰어넘는 것을 경험하면서, 절망스럽도록 뿌리 깊은 결박에서 헤어나 진정한 자유를 경험하게 되는 과정을 밟는 것은 동일하리라 믿는다. 나의 경우는 다만 그 과정을, 적어도 지금은, 도장에서 이뤄나가게 된 것이고, 이는 분명 큰 은혜이고 축복이다.
글. 손광호(의사, 72세)
요즈음 같이 권총 같은 살상무기가 난무하는 세상에 검도를 배워서 무엇을 하나? 이 질문은 검도를 하나의 운동으로 생각하면 간단하겠지만, 호신술로 생각하면 문제가 달라진다. 護身術이라기 보다 護心術, 즉 마음을 다스리는 法이라고 하면 어떨까? 이런 생각으로 地水風火를 나름 데로 해석해 본다.
地 —– 땅. 모든 세상의 것을 받쳐 준다는 뜻에서 근본, 기본, 기초를 의미하며 가장 기본으로 이 과정을 지나지 않고는 다름 과정을 알 수 없다. 대부분 사람들은 자기가 지금까지 살아 오면서 얻은 고정 관념들을 잣대로 해서 계속 그 테두리 안에서 생활하기 마련이고, 또 많은 경우에 그렇게 강요 당하고 있다. 어린아이가 세상에 태어나서 아무 경험 없는 상태에서 새로운 것들을 배우듯, Dry sponge가 물을 빨아들이듯, 자기의 옛날 고정관념을 옆에 제쳐두고 새로운 것을 배우는 마음가짐을 만드는 과정이다.
水 —– 물. 물 흐르듯 한 유연한 동작의 연속이다. 물은 그 형태가 없이 상황에 따라 그 모양을 달리 나타낼 수 있다. 그릇에 담기면 그 그릇의 모양을 나타내고 모여서 흐르면 개울이나 강, 바다의 모습이 되듯이, 마음을 열고 모든 가능성을 받아들이는 자세이다.
風 —– 바람. 간결하게 끊고 멈추는 동작이 기본으로 되어있다. 여기서는 자기가 가지고 있는 옛날의 고정관념 속에서 자질구레하고 쓸데없는 관념이나 편견을 버려서(끊고 잘라서) 자기 마음에 좀 더 큰 공간, 여유를 만들어서 새로운 것을 받아들이는 과정이다.
火 —– 불. 빠르고 기운찬 연속 동작이 주로 되어있다. 지,수,풍에서 다듬어진 이 마음속에 이제는 새로운 것들을 능동적으로 받아들이는 과정이다.
결국은 이 地, 水, 風, 火 는 자기 마음을 다스려 새롭게 발전시키는 과정으로 이 네 가지를 연속형태로 자유자재로 행할 때 天 이라 한다.
사람들은 보통 자기가 아는 것만큼밖에 알지 못하고, 보이는 만큼 밖에 보지 못한다. 앞에 있는 빈 화병을 보면 대개 그 화병의 앞면 그림만 본다. 뒤쪽은 비슷할 것이고 옆면은 아예 생각하지도 않고, 병은 으레 비어있을 것으로 생각하고 지나가 버린다. 정말 그럴까? 이 화병 일은 대수롭지 않을지 모르나 인생살이도 이렇게 지나갈 수 있을까?
眞劍과 실전刀法을 통해서 이와 같은 Critical Thinking & Analysis 를 배운다는 것이 나의 소견이다.
Master Siljin Dobup
Michael V. Macri, M.D.
I can’t believe my journey in Siljin Dobup has brought me to this level. Finally my mind and body and spirit work together as one. This was a long journey that has trained my mind to be neutral and have Moshin “No mind” while doing forms. I have alot to be thankful for meeting Master Jin Seong who was very patient with me from the beginning. I was always a good athlete despite being in poor condition and middle aged when I started. As mentioned in my previous essays I trained extensively 2 private sword lessons, 2 group lessons, 1 teaching session and 2-3 group Kumdo lessons a week. I immersed myself in body and mind in learning “the way of the sword”.. I feel this was necessary since I had to overcome my poor previous conditioning and middle aged status. Master Seong was very supportive since I had my doubts about being able to overcome the age hurtle but he always encouraged me that my mind would overcome my age. I have always had a strong spirit but now feel that the body, mind and spirit are one. His encouragement was just that…. He led me to the well and it was up to me to drink the water.
I have a deep passion for Siljin Dobup. I believe it shows. Now that I am at an advanced level I view other styles and note they are too fixed and don’t have enough variety. I love the fact that there are different stabs, slashes and strikes and sheathing techniques in Siljin Dobup and that I can practice virtually anywhere. I love practicing at home, office (in between patients) and of course in the Dojang.
I look at Set Ji (earth) as the beginning form (8 directional cuts) upon which all other forms are based. In Set Ji we start by “putting down the self”. We empty what we already have to accept new things. Set Soo (water) is a flowing form everything is open and fine my mindset is of water flowing down a river. The mind becomes flexible like water and there is an opening of the mind to accept new possibilities. Set Pung (wind) is abrupt, quick movements with conservation of movement in cutting and sheathing. By doing so we cut out what isn’t necessary and make room to insert positive Chi energy of Set Hwa. Set Hwa (fire) we build up positive Chi energy. I had a lot of trouble with this form since I was able to build up chi energy but sometimes too much fire and not enough ice. My mind has enabled me to overcome this now, but it took a lot of work and breathing! Set Cheon (Sky) covers everything, good, bad, hot, cold, beautiful, ugly everything harmonizes under the Sky. Everything has a place. In Set Cheon you start controlling your mind and realize you are the master of your mind. This took the longest since the manner in doing the form Set Ji#1, Set Soo #1, Set Pung #1, Set Hwa #1, Set Cheon #1 was a continuation of all the forms in cutting sequence i.e. Left to right overhead diagonal cuts in #1, right to left overhead diagonal cuts in #2, on up. I view Set Cheon differently since all the forms come together and I see their connection to each other.
Having come full circle the most important part of the sword I feel is the mind. There is a saying “Look at the Soul, to see the Sword”, i.e., Bad Soul. Bad Sword… Good Soul, Good Sword. The Sword can reflect many good things and can be an instrument for meditation. I feel that by reaching Master Level in Siljin Dobup my mind is free to be open to anything and I am the master of my mind. Having arrived at Master Level is a definite milestone but I realize there is a long journey in front of me as a Master. It is my wish to continue the trip up the mountain in learning “the way of the sword”.
Ellen Hyewon Seong, Kumdo 3rd Dan, Josun Sepup 1st Dan, Student
The girl’s loud yelling pierces my ears. I can never forget her fierce eyes glaring straight at me as if she can hear my thoughts and sense my fear. Many people are cheering, but I am too nervous to notice their excitement. I only feel their eyes trapping me, locking me on the spot. Although she is one head shorter than me, I feel myself shrinking in front of her. Paralyzed, I lose to her in less than thirty seconds. I can still remember how I cried uncontrollably in the grim corner seven years ago during my first tournament.
Eight years ago, I was forced to practice Kumdo, sword-fighting martial art. As a timid nine-year-old girl, I had absolutely no interest in practicing a “brutal” martial art. However, I had no choice but to comply with the will of my dad, who has pursued the study of Kumdo for thirty-five years.
Unfortunately for my dad, I was not talented at Kumdo. I cried on numerous occasions because I felt like the opponents were inhumanely fast. The first time I sparred with my dad, I felt like a fragile egg, fighting a pointless battle against a monumental rock. I could not dare myself to even attempt to attack him. Even after I earned my first blackbelt degree, there were times when I felt like quitting because of the pressure I received from other masters. I felt like the masters had higher expectations of me because I was the daughter of the man with the highest blackbelt degree in the US Kumdo Association.
I admit that I have spent some time wondering why I did not inherit my dad’s gifted talent at Kumdo. I now realize, however, that these thoughts are useless. Dedication and consistency will eventually take me to where I want to be. I do not have the talent, but my persistency has led me into getting third degree blackbelt. Beginners look upon me as a role model. I am glad that I never quit. Had I quit, I would never have felt the feeling of true accomplishment. Through Kumdo, I learned that challenges do not last forever. Time will pass eventually. The key is who will continue to challenge themselves without giving up.
October 31, 2010, VA. My loud, shrieking yelling fills the big gym. I watch my opponent attentively; I can see that the opponent’s eyes are filled with fear and her body stiffens with extreme nervousness. I enjoy the admiring looks from the spectators. I am no longer the girl who felt hopeless during her first match. Instead, I am the predator with sharp eyes, ready to charge at the prey.
Kumdo has rewarded me with the confidence that I have what it takes to overcome whatever challenge I encounter in the future. I am about to step into a bigger world. I know that I will have to start as an egg again, but I am not afraid. I am no longer the fragile egg that is frightened to throw itself against the rock. I now have the courage to face a new challenge that is waiting for me because I know that the challenge will eventually turn out to be a reward.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to train in Siljon Dobup. I am new to traditional martial arts. However I know from my months at Sung Moo Kwan that I am blessed or lucky to have found a very traditional setting for my study of the sword. Grand Master Seong is very generous with his knowledge and I have looked forward to the physical, mental and spiritual demands of every training session.
I am an Army officer and professional soldier familiar with weapons and the rigors of war; however I have always felt that western military training lacks the spiritual quality that I have begun to explore in the Siljon Dobup sword style. There are many lessons to be learned from the sword. The various forms and time spent in the dojan are like meditation that restores and assists me in personal development and discipline. I feel that in recent months my study of the sword has added to other experiences in my personal and professional life. Siljon Dobup is something I will continue for the rest of my life and it has sparked my interest in the larger world of Kumdo. I know that when I return to the United States I will begin Kumdo training.
Soccer, tennis, swimming, volleyball, lacrosse, track…throughout my life I have participated in a great number of sports but none can compare to kumdo. I wake up every morning and complain about school or work, and for a small period of time I did the same about kumdo. Looking back at that time I regret ever having thoughts of giving up, but that was when I was weak. I’ve finally realized it takes determination, patience, and heart to get through whatever troubles might come my way, kumdo has taught me this. No longer do I wake in the morning and groan at the thought of kumdo, instead I can’t help but smile.
Two years of kumdo and I have finally achieved my goal. I can’t express the happiness I feel. I will always take what I learned from kumdo wherever I go because I want to continue reaching my ambitions. I am extremely grateful that I could experience kumdo. I can proudly lift my chin and tell all those who want to know that I take kumdo. Kumdo is my push to fight for what I want. Kumdo is my source of confidence and strength.
It is unfortunate that Kumdo, or more commonly referred to as Kendo (as according to its Japanese name), is a foreign topic to so many in our society, for it is one of the best of its kind. Although it may not seem practical to learn how to wield a sword (who carries one around nowadays?), much less a fake one, Kumdo actually serves to sharpen one’s mind, quicken our perception, judgment, and reaction, and improve our physical health. For more than five years, I have been always proud to call myself a Kumdo student. But is pride really appropriate in the attitude of a humble student striving for consistent improvement? In retrospect and reflection, I admit that the proper attitude would not be pride, but rather infinitemodesty.
Modesty, in its general sense of meaning, tends to connote a lack of self-confidence and therefore assertiveness. Pride, on the other hand, implies the effect of bolstering confidence and aggression, which could be critical in any Kumdo match and as a Kumdo participant in general. Therefore, I am not arguing for an excess of modesty or a complete lack of pride, but rather a delicate, and somewhat paradoxical balance of both traits in which modesty is given an iota more of consideration and weight.
I believe all people have a cornerstone in their lives. A cornerstone is an art, practice, discipline, passion, or pursuit that serves as a type of foundation for our existence. It is something we can base our actions on, and whose teachings affect our every decision. For some, this cornerstone is religion. For others, it is a certain sport. Or an art form. Or a role model. For myself, however, it is kendo; which encompasses all of those previously mentioned. Kendo has made more of an impact on my growth as a person than just about anything else, and it continues to do so with every passing day. I have learned a great deal in the 4 ½ years that I have been practicing…more so than I could possible describe. Achieving 2nd Dan has been an incredible milestone, but there is no shortage of things for me to improve upon and learn in the art of Kendo.