Friday, July 9, 2010

This weekend there will be a very special event held at the Huang Moo Kwan Kendo school in Palisades Park, NJ. For the first time in the United States, a group of students will test for their 1st Dan (blackbelt) rank in a Korean martial art called "Chosun Sebup." I will be one of these students!

Chosun Sebup is a martial art detailed in the 17th century Korean military codex, 'Mu-bee-ji,’ a compilation of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese martial arts and tactics. Because of its shared border with China and long coastline, Korea has been in external conflict for much of its history. 'Mu-bee-ji' would have been written in a time when Korea was defending it's borders from the Manchu-Invasion, and recovering from the Seven-Year War with Japan. This is of important historical significance because most martial arts traditions of the time were passed down by word of mouth from teacher to student. The manual codifies, describes, and analyzes both friendly and enemy tactics and served as an important reconnaissance tool for the Korean commanders.

Chosun Sebup was the first inclusion in "Mu-bee-ji," and was practiced with a sword that was slung from the right shoulder and hung on the left side of the body, similar to the "tachi" (slung sword). It is unknown if the sword used in this art was a curved sword of Japanese origin (Katana) or a straight sword of the Chinese tradition (Jian). It is likely that both types of swords were used, depending on geographical location and access to trade routes. Another theory is that these two sword traditions were combined as the traditional Korean sword (Jingum) is curved like the katana, but incorporates the hanging tassel similar to the jian.

Chosun Sebup is divided into three sections, each with four techniques emphasizing a different form of attach and/or defense. These are:

Chapter 1. ( Cheon) – Heaven
1. 거정세 ( Guh-jeong-se) - Making high stance as if one lifts a big pot.
2. 과좌세 ( Gua-jua-se) - Cutting from upleft to downright
3. 과우세 (Gua-woo-se) - Cutting from upright to downright
4. 탄복세 ( Tan-bok-se) - Thrusting at the belly

Chapter 2. ( Jeeh) – Earth
1. 표두세 ( Pyo-doo-se) - Cutting the leopard’s head – Straight up to down cut
2. 좌협세 (Jua-hyeop-se) - Thrusting at the left chest
3. 우협세 (Woo-hyeop-se) - Thrusting at the heart
4. 어거세 (Uh-guh-se) - Sword at center position – pushing forward

Chapter 3. (In) – Human
1. 은망세 (Uhn-mahng-se) - Silver Python
2. 전시세 (Jeon –shi-se) - As if one spreads wings
3. 요격세 (Yo-gyeok-se) - Cutting from upright to down left
4. 봉두세 (Bong-doo-se) - Beheading the Phoenix

A demonstration of Chosun Sebup performed by a youth sword team in Korea:

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