“An Introduction To The Muyedobotongji”: A Five Part Masterclass Series by Dr. Bok Kyu Choi


The Korean Institute for Martial Arts (KIMA) and the Centre for Korean Studies at Leiden University host a series of five masterclasses on the ancient Korean martial arts manual Muyedobotongji.





In five consecutive lectures, Dr. Choi will disclose the nature of a book considered to be the key to understanding Korean Martial Arts history. In addition, the lectures will showcase the five most significant weapons found in the Muyetobodongji, each with a practical workshop.

For more details and enrollment, please send an e-mail to the secretary Mrs J Van der Hoff: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Compiled in 1790, the Muyedobotongji represents Korean martial arts at its zenith and it exemplifies the synthesis of East Asian Martial Arts. Containing Korean, Japanese and Chinese martial arts in drawings as well as detailed descriptions, the Muyedobotongji provides insights into the character of Korean martial traditions through the prism of Korean culture and thought. Through this perspective we are guided to a deeper understanding of traditional martial arts and are provided directions to the development of Martial Arts in the future.
Until now many people that were interested in this manual were unable to access the contents. Written in Classical Chinese, the Muyedobotongji presented a daunting language barrier. Furthermore, without knowledge of the very specific terminology and traditional martial theories required to decipher the content, the common result has been a myriad of misunderstandings and misconceptions regarding the field of traditional Korean Martial Arts.
With over 20 years of scholarship dedicated to its understanding, Dr. Choi is considered one of the authoritative scholars on the Muyedobotongji. He has published on this subject for the Ehwa University Press, Seoul National University Press and Korea’s national newspapers. Currently residing in the Netherlands, Dr. Choi’s 5 part series offers people with an interest in Korean martial arts a unique chance to study a true Martial Art classic in both a theoretical and a practical way.
Dates 2011 / 2012:
MC 1: Sunday Sept. 18th       –  Gwonbeop (Classical Fist methods)
MC 2: Sunday Nov. 6th        – Ssangsudo (Double handed sword)
MC 3: Sunday Jan. 22nd        – Jangbong (Long staff)
MC 4: Sunday March 11th         – Bongukgeom (Hwarang sword)
MC 5: Sunday May 20th       – Ssanggeom (Twin swords)
Each masterclass consist of 3 parts:
Part I - Theory 10:30 - 12:00 hrs.
1) The historical backgrounds of Korean martial arts and the development of the subject weapon;
2) The subject weapon in the classical manual Muyedobotongji;
3) Historical records of this weapon in Korean martial arts traditions in contrast to those traditions of the neighboring countries China and Japan;
4) The theoretical significance of this weapon for the martial arts.
Lunch break
Part II – Practical 13:30 - 15:30 hrs.
1) The standards in stances, foot and body-work for weapons training;
2) The special features of the subject weapon and the essential techniques;
3) Specific training routines;
4) A combination form and application of the techniques.
Part III – Evaluation and Discussion 15:45 – 16:15 hrs.
Theory class location:
Lipsius Building, Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden.
Practical class location:
Universitair Sportcentrum, Einsteinweg 6, Leiden.
Masters and instructors (incl. assistant instructors), from 1st Dan and up in any Korean martial art.
• A single masterclass € 75,- incl. VAT and syllabus.
• Series of 5 masterclasses € 295,- incl. VAT, syllabi and a certificate of attendance. 
(Bookings required before 3 September 2011.)
Information / enrollment:
Mrs J. Van der Hoff - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Brief descriptions of the subjects:

MC 1 Gwonbeop - Sunday September 18th '11
Gwonbeop was originally considered basic training for increasing strength and agility, attributes that are necessary for the use of hand held weapons in the military (martial arts). Today the concept of martial arts is dominated by bare handed techniques as implemented by arts such as karate, taekwondo, hapkido and judo. The transition from weapons to unarmed fighting resulted from a change towards civilian practice as opposed to the military which introduced firearms (hot weapons) to supplant cold weapons. Recently there has been a renewed interest in classical martial arts and manuals. Gwonbeop was first recorded in the Muyejebo Beonyeosokjip (1610) and it is also described in the Muyedobotongji (1790). While they share many techniques, the sequences differ, thereby showing different gwonbeop traditions in the Joseon period.
MC 2. Ssangsudo - Sunday November 6th '11
The long sword, literally called the double handed sword, requires both hands to wield. These frighteningly big, heavy swords were originally called "long swords" (jangdo), or sometimes "applying sword" (yonggum) or "plain sword" (pyunggum). Swords of this type came to be known during invasions of China as they were used by Japanese pirates invading China's coastal areas. Wielding these swords, the Japanese pirates cut long spears, or even enemy soldiers, into half in a single strike. The long sword skills were therefore introduced in Korea to prepare its troops for combat against Japanese pirates.
MC 3. Jangbong – Sunday January 22nd '12
The Jangbong is a long staff, and is considered the mother technique of all martial arts. In the Muyedobotongji, there are two sorts of staff sparring forms, one is staff vs. staff sparring, the other is a staff vs. flail form. This master class will also contrast the Korean traditions to those from the Shaolin. Staff techniques encompass strike, stab, block, parry etc. These techniques are fundamentals to all weapons techniques. After mastering staff skills, the study of other pole arms such as spear, sword, trident, moon sword etc. is more readily accessible.
MC 4. Bongukgeom – Sunday March 11th '12
The Bongukgeom symbolizes the valor of Korean swordsmen. It originated from the sword skills of the Hwarang, the elite paramilitary organization of the Silla Dynasty, hence its other names, Hwarang Sword, Silla Sword and New Sword (Sin Geom). Double‐edged swords were presumably used at early stages but the skill had been rearranged to use single‐edged swords by the time it was included in Sibpalki, the 18 essential skills. This master class will also show the relationship between Bumgukgeom and Chosun Sebup.
MC 5. Ssanggeom – Sunday May 20th '12
Fighting skills using two swords in each hand is one of the most difficult skills to master. Double swords on horseback required even greater prowess. The fighter could attack and defend at the same time using two swords. The smaller, saber‐size swords with round hand guards (hwando) were generally used for this technique. The swordsman kept a pair of swords, one referred to as male and the other one as female, in a single scabbard to draw them quickly. The folk double swords dance (Ssanggeom Moo) was derived from this skill.