Kummooyeh

Discussion in 'Korean Swords and Sword Arts' started by WMKS Shogun, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. WMKS Shogun

    WMKS Shogun Green Belt

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    Hello all!
    I am curious as to public opinion of Kummooyeh (if anyone knows anything/heard anything/opinions). I hold a 1st Dan in Kummooyeh (earned from Master Jerry Laurita). I have my own opinions, but figured it would be interesting to get public opinion, positive or negative. I know the style is fairly new to the USA (and not very old period). I will also answer any questions I can, but as I am only a 1st Dan I only know so much. I promise, I am not trolling or out to start a flame war.

    What I DO know about Kummooyeh:
    • Founded by Grand Master Joung, Bouk-Soo in 2010 (with an updated curriculum in 2012 or 2013).
    • Students work on 7 basic cuts and a stab, plus 8 short forms (which combine to form single long form), footwork drills, partner drills (two-person attack and defense drills), and test cutting. This is at least the main thrust of the curriculum to 1st Dan.
    • Heavy emphasis on "practical" sword use. I say "practical" because in this day and age, how practical is a sword? What I mean though is it is not flashy like some sword arts are (so no spinning the sword, throwing it up and catching it, etc.)
    • Currently, less than a dozen Kummooyeh Black belts in the USA.

    I have not heard much beyond what my instructor has told me, and to be fair, while I trust Master Laurita's opinions, I know that he is biased (as to an extent, so am I). Thus my wanting outside opinions.

    Respectfully,
     
  2. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Er... how much honesty are you after here?
     
  3. WMKS Shogun

    WMKS Shogun Green Belt

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    I am going for opinions, so honesty is pretty important, (even if it is brutally so).
     
  4. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Here is Grand Master Joung, Bouk Soo on video:

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014
  5. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    This system is so new that this is the first I have ever heard of it.

    The question I have is where Grand Master Joung learned his sword technique?
     
  6. WMKS Shogun

    WMKS Shogun Green Belt

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    I think he broke away from Haidong Gumdo (I know that was what Master Laurita did when he joined up with Grand Master Joung and Kummooyeh), but I am not certain on the accuracy of the statement concerning GM Joung's training. Kummooyeh does NOT use the Haidong Gumdo Forms anymore (as of 2012 or 2013) but I believe it did previously, hence, my thinking he branched off from Haidong. He does some of the cuts fairly differently (in teaching) than what I had seen in HDGD. I know when it comes to test cutting, it makes a difference in my personal cutting, for what it is worth.
     
  7. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Firstly, we need to know the context of the art. Is it a sporting art? Is it for duels, battlefield, performance or what? I see some duelling, some turning cuts, presumably against multiple opponents, some test-cutting. I also see some things that make me raise my eyebrows such as spinning in a duel (though la canne does it to hide a hand-switch) and a cartwheel, sword-in-hand.

    -Mark
     
  8. Namii

    Namii Green Belt

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    I have heard of it before, but only just this year because someone had mentioned it on a forum elsewhere. The USA association has a facebook page and a website. They dont seem to offer a whole lot of info though.

    https://www.facebook.com/UsaKummooyehAssociation
    http://usakummooyeh.com/

    I have heard of Master Laurita from his Gumdo days,

    One thing that may arise negative opinions is; on the facebook page they have a photo album of an instructors course/testing. Part of the course/test was doing some "two man attack/defense sets"--- with blade to blade contact----with live blades...

    One thing I am curious about is the cutting portion of their curriculum. Watching the videos of the master doing the dual sword cutting looks almighty fun.
     
  9. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Nothing wrong with training paired drills with sharps. I've done it, and many schools still do it today. Just make sure your instructor is qualified to facilitate that kind of training.

    -Mark
     
  10. WMKS Shogun

    WMKS Shogun Green Belt

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    I can attest to the live blade two person training. It was part of my 1st Dan test. Even at slower speeds, still it was intense. I have told my students about it, but told them that until I am higher rank and more experienced they will definitely NOT be doing that in my classes. I will have them go to Master Laurita for that, thank you very much.

    It looks like the general consensus is that people do not know much and that there is pretty much no opinion, positive or negative. Sounds like a good start. With excellence, maybe one day, it will be a (semi-) well known martial art and have a great reputation. (I sound like such a kid, but it is kind of cool being a part of martial art newly come to the states.)
     
  11. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hmm. Okay.

    I've held back over this thread, as I wasn't sure how brutal I wanted to be here, but I might as well put in an actual opinion of mine. I will stress that this is my opinion, and is formed from both video of the system, and looking into the history of it, as well as some personal engagement with Jerry Laurita on another forum.

    I see absolutely no merit to it whatsoever. Jerry is, in my opinion, completely ill-suited to teach anything to do with swordsmanship, and is so lacking in his knowledge that he not only couldn't answer criticisms put to him, he couldn't even understand what the criticisms were. His sword methods appear to be based in little more than movie fantasy, as do much of what I've seen of Kummooyeh bluntly, with some major issues in mechanics, safety, and more. There is no real grasp of the structure of sword combative methods, as much of what is seen is deeply, fatally flawed. I would avoid at all costs, unless all you're after is something that looks flashy, but has no combative or martial merit. The history presented, including the background of the founder of the system, simply adds more questions than it answers (what is this "traditional Korean sword" that's supposed to be preserved? Nothing I've seen there looks anything like any real traditional usage of the weapon, from any culture).

    In the interest of full disclosure, I submit this thread where both Jerry Laurita and I were participants. Mr Laurita is only really a part of the first few pages (well, the first three), and the last post on the third page gets into my answer of why swordsmanship needs to be practical... as well as what that actually means.
     
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  12. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    This is the first that I've heard of it. I'm assuming that Kummooyeh is Kum (sword) Muye (martial art). Without seeing the forms and without more than your very basic description of the art, it's hard to even form an opinion, let alone offer one.

    Regarding your comment, "Isay "practical" because in this day and age, how practical is a sword?" Practical in the context of swordsmanship means the same thing that it does in anything else; that the techniques would be applicable in a martial setting. Practical means that you are learning to use the weapon in the way in which it was designed with appropriate offence and defence, footwork, and correct cutting. Practical means not doing things that would expressly get you killed if you were faced with another swordsman. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    What is the basis for you calling it practical? Is he working from any historical sources, such as the Muyedobotongji? Or is he simply a slightly less flashy breakaway from HDGD?

    The video above shows Master Joung engaging in a Tameshigiri demo. Aside from not being overwhelmed by it, it tells me very little of the art. While it's harder than it looks to do well, the fact is that you've got a three foot razor blade, so cutting rolled up mats isn't really all that hard and demonstrates nothng of they system.

    One note on what I saw was that he was never able to successfully cut the bundles of multiple rolls and the thrusting his short sword into the target and leaving it so that he could cut it to pieces with his long sword was just plain silly.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014
  13. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Was there supposed to be a link to the discussion? If so, it does not appear to have posted.
     
  14. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    I found this video incidentally:

    It is much more helpful than the cutting demo. It looks better than some of the other HDGD spin offs that I've seen, particularly the level of execution displayed by the subjects. They looked crisp, and the techniques displayed weren't the usual flash & trash that is standard fare in many other Korean sword styles that I've seen, so I can see why you would say that you consider it to be a "practical" system. I still haven't seen enough of it to agree or disagree on that count.

    But I have to say that I pretty much always lose it when I see Action Flex foam sword sparring. Instant turn off. You don't want your sparring to look like kendo, I get it. But lose the foam swords. It just looks bad.

    Here is the link to the organization: http://www.kummooyeh.org/

    Here are some questions for you:


    • How is the art being spread? I saw refernce to the instructors courses and downloads for affiliation and membership and to online membership at the bottom.
    • Are these courses taught through seminars, video, online, or in written form (books, training manuals, etc.) or a combination?
    • What is the ranking system like? You hold an ildan in an art with a two year life, which says that it takes less than twenty four months to go from raw beginner to ildan. How many mudanja grades are there? How many yudanja grades are there (looks like nine)?
    • What are the short forms like?
    • I saw that your GM founded the Korean Dobup Association in 1996. Is this art an extension of that art.

    Thank you for your responses in advance.
     
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  15. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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  16. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Thank you. And I agree with the assessments made on the posted video, particularly the observations made in post 26. None of the conversation tells me particulars about Kummooyeh specifically, but it certainly was worth a read, as the OP references the individual in that thread as being in a teaching capacity in this art. On the flip side, I've seen some horrible instructors representing legitimate arts, so I'll withold my opinion of the art itself.
     
  17. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yeah, I've seen some genuinely terrible performers of authentic arts as well... but far more genuinely terrible performers of what they believe are authentic arts. And, honestly, this falls into the latter category. Pretty much everything I see from the system, from the founder on down, show no real understanding of sword, and a large dose of movie-style fantasy. In much of the solo actions, there is a real lack of any focus to the swinging of the sword (I'm not calling it a cut, as a cut has a defined target and focus; the point where the sword impacts the target is apparent and obvious... it just isn't here), as well as there being a prevalence of some bluntly bizarre actions and ideas. For example:





    I have also come up against a range of issues just trying to get where this all comes from... the founder, Bouk Soo Joung, founded this system in 2010, and awarded himself a 9th Dan. That's all cool, honestly, if it's his system, he can decide what any rank means, and apply it however he wants. But the issue is that this is supposed to be a way of "preserving traditional Korean sword", based in Joung's previous study... which seems to likely be dominantly Haidong Gumdo, a very modern system with no traditional base, created in 1963, with this new art growing out of Joung's previously created organization, the Korean Dobup Kumdo, as well as also having founded other organizations/associations, such as the "Korean Two-Sword Association" (how many systems/organizations does he want to be the head of?), with no other mention of exactly where anything comes from. But an objective view of the material and manner in which it is performed denies any claim of it being close to anything "traditional", or realistic, let alone historical. If anything like this was used historically, the odds of the person using it surviving long enough to show anyone else are so low as to discount it as a continuing methodology.

    In short, it appears to be a very modern (and combatively flawed) approach to a sword art, based in a very modern (and combatively flawed) approach to a sword art, coming primarily from a desire to be the head of something. That might be an unfair assessment of Joung's motivations, but honestly, I doubt it. Add to that people such as Jerry Laurita, and I would flee. Fast.
     
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  18. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Let's get two facts stated outright and put on the table before proceeding:


    1. Virtually nobody is working on historical Korean sword in any large scale capacity.
    2. Modern Korean sword has most, if not all of its roots in the trappings of Japanese swordsmanship (as opposed to Japanese swordsmanship itself).

    Regarding the first. I work on historical Korean sword and have been for several years. What I do looks nothing like HDGD, Koryo Gumdo, or the Kummooyeh GM's cutting demonstration. I work directly from the Muyedobotongji, which unsurprisingly does not include things like cartwheels and cutting while jumping.

    Regarding the second, modern Korean sword utilizes a Japanese type sword. Meaning same shape, grip, guard, etc. as a katana. While historical Korean swords were of similar shape, there were marked differences.

    Modern Korean sword groups tend to wear doboks that resemble Japanese kendo uniforms more than they do Korean traditional dress. The addition of colorful overjackets lend an even more Japanese look. Even the long/short sword fighting is a Japanese trapping, as historical ssang geom is twin short swords, not a long and a short sword.

    Having said that, one could argue that Japanese occupation brought changes and influence to Korean swordsmanship. I agree. But that's why you have Kumdo, as in KKA Kumdo, which is part of the FIK, not the KKW.

    Modern Korean swordsmanship organizations also does everything that they can on paper, from Korean specific terms to false histories, to distance themselves from Japanese traditions. What you've ended up with is a flashy, Hong Kong movie influenced style of swordsmanship packaged into TKD marketing coupled with the ninja/samurai craze of the eighties.

    "Authentically," that is what modern Korean swordsmanship is.

    Because swords are not used for self defence or warfare any longer, schools teaching sword arts don't face the kind of scrutiny that a TKD or karate school does, as nobody is worried about being betrayed by substandard or fantastical training in a sword fight. Because unless you're a fencer (Kendo, Olympic fencing, etc.), you won't be in one.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  19. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    I have seen nothing but videos of bad tameshigiri, foam sword sparring, and questionable cutting drills performed by black belt students in juchum seogi (horse stance) that look more like fitness and conditioning exercises than actual swordsmanship. Those, along with some partner work that wasn't as bad as I was expecting.

    Merit is subjective. If you want something fun to do that will help with fitness and conditioning, then it probably has a lot of merit. If you want a preserved historical art, not so much. And therein lies the problem, as that is the claim made by each and every KSA org, including this one. And in terms of large organizations, none of them live up to that claim so far as I have seen. And this one most certainly does not.

    As for combative merit, I would really need to see more of the partner work that does not involve foamy swords. Not for the skill of the practitioners, but for what they're actually doing. What is the combat philosophy (kendo has one, as does western fencing)? Not the tenets and virtues, but the philosophy of how combat is approached. So far, what I have seen does not reveal any of that.

    What I do see is some iffy partner work, Nerf swords, and a lot of attempts to do flashy "samurai" stuff in stylized Haidong Gumdo doboks, particularly the tameshigiri, which is very subpar. Not overly telling of the art as a whole, but not a good testament to the overall quality of training in their dojangs, as the subjects of the videos all appear to range from first to ninth dan.

    While I am open minded with regards to what the art actually contains, my expectations are not particularly high at this point.
     
  20. WMKS Shogun

    WMKS Shogun Green Belt

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    First off, thank you to everyone who answered/commented. Secondly, I do wish that the federation would update their website with the new curriculum (or maybe this is what I will be working on higher in rank...).
    To Daniel Sullivan: What makes the tameshigiri sub-par in your eyes? Just curious. I just rewatched the cutting technique video that is on their youtube page and other than a few over-zealous cuts (which my own master tended to tell us we went too big and that Grand Master Joung was trying to get us to all make our cuts a bit smaller/more concise as of the curriculum change-over/update) and some cuts that were done for flash rather than practicality (but still difficult), I did not see sub-par cuts. I say this with all honesty, enlighten me. I am missing something here. Point me in the right direction.
    Chris Parker: I read the other forum you linked and I can see both sides. Having met Master Laurita and trained under him, I have a different opinion, but I will keep yours in mind. There is your side, his side, and the truth. That is what I am looking for. Only be seeing other sides, will I get to it. Thus, thank you.

    The long and short of all this is: it looks like most people do not have a huge opinion, and when they do, it is based on half a dozen youtube videos. Time to try to fix this. I will start trying to put up some of me (and let others critique as they like). Hopefully though, I can start to build up a better reputation than the original flashy videos. Not that I am better than Grand Master Joung or those in the videos, but I think those were meant to be as flashy as possible to attract people who knew little about swords. Hopefully solid basics being shown will impress you guys a bit. I will try to get something up in a week or so.
     

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