Korean martial arts:
Taekwondo, hapkido, and kumdo are some of Korea's most popular cultural exports. With active practitioners worldwide, students and parents will often find martial art studios that advertise training in one or more of these disciplines.
Here, we will take a closer look at kumdo as a possible cross-training option for the taekwondo athlete. It is recommended to build a strong foundation in one art (ie. first or second degree black, or three to five years of consistent study) before cross-training in another. This ensures that the athlete's taekwondo training is not diluted.
Kumdo is a weapon style typically practiced with a bamboo sword. Many Korean martial arts studios choose to cross-train in kumdo without wearing armor. However, when armor is required, kumdo gear resembles Japanese kendo gear.
The main benefit that kumdo offers the taekwondo athlete is strengthening of the calves and other leg muscles. When done correctly, the stances are performed such that the athlete's center of gravity is lowered - closer to the ground. This carries over into the leg strength needed for taekwondo forms and the explosiveness needed in sparring and self defense classes.
Because of the higher level of detail required to attain proficiency in this art form, many studio owners prefer to restrict their kumdo classes to adults and late teens. Thus, it may be a good training complement to a mature teenager or young adult looking to add variety to a well-rounded taekwondo curriculum. Since kumdo is not considered very strenuous (as practiced in the United States), older adults and those young at heart may also participate in this art form as a way to add variety to their korean martial arts training schedules.
To learn more about kumdo, please see this book by authors Jason Kim and Jung Il Oh.
There is also a beginner's DVD available, complete with explanations for terminology, stances, and movements. This particular resource also introduces the different components of the sword and typical training routines taught by Korean instructors.