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Korean Traditional Martial Art Sippalki


Author: Bok Kyu Choi  | Publisher  Ehwa University Press, 173 pages illustrated.
ISBN 978-89-7300-775-2

In the series titled 'The Roots of Korean Culture', the Ehwa University Press recently released ‘Korean Traditional Martial Arts - Sibpalki’.

This work is an historical approach to Korean traditional martial arts, focusing on Sibpalki, the eighteen martial arts for close combat of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. The significance of Sibpalki for the study of Korean martial arts history is crucial. It is the martial arts described in the illustrated manual Muyedobotongji  (1790) and the turning point of Korean martial arts history from pre-modern to modern. This book describes Korean martial arts before and after Muyedobotongji.

Martial arts have traditionally been of vital importance to Koreans. The Korean martial arts such as spearmanship and archery were very reknowned even in China. Mural paintings in the Koguryo period show many kinds of martial arts of that era which were long range martial arts like archery and cross bow, and short range martial arts like spearmanship and swordsmanship. The military class of the Koryo Dynasty enjoyed martial activities like Gyeokgu (polo) and Nongmahi (acrobatics on the horse back) as well as spearmanship and swordsmanship. This inspired the lower classes to join martial activities like Soobak (bare hand techniques), Gakjeo (wrestling), Seokjeon (stone throwing fighting) a.s.o. These military traditions were transmitted to Joseon, the next nation. Around this time cavalry martial arts like Gichang (spearmanship on the horseback) and Gisa (archery on the horseback) came up because of the continual attacks by nomad tribes from the north.
After two big wars with Japan and the Manchu, the Joseon's military system had undergone a drastic renovation because of the advent of fire arms for long range battle, with the addition of short range martial arts. It resulted in the completion of Joseon's martial arts system Sibpalki. Sibpalki means literally eighteen techniques and is composed of thrusting techniques such as Jangchang (long spear), Jukjangchang (bamboo long spear) and Dangpa (trident), slashing techniques such as Bongukgeom, Yedo, Hyeopdo, Jedokgeom and Ssanggeom, and strike techniques such as Gwonbeop (bare hand techniques), Gonbong (staff) and Pyeongon (flail).
Sibpalki is the synthesis of the most effective ancient martial arts of China, Japan, and Korea at that time from the perspective of Korea.

After the liberation from the 35 years of Japanese annexation (and its cultural genocide) in 1945, many Korean martial arts were reconstructed claiming to represent the martial arts heritage of Korea. Recently the National Traditional Army Demonstration Troops were established, to demonstrate Sibpalki and revive the Korean martial arts tradition. Exactly a century later the Korean army picks up its martial arts heritage since it was disarmed by the Japanese forces 1907.

The book is currently only available in Korean. The English translation is available for students of the KIMA program 'Martial Studies'. http://www.martialartsinstitute.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61&Itemid=33


I. Martial arts tradition in Korea
Ancient militarism tradition
Sibpalki, synthesis of ancient martial arts

II. Ancient martial arts
Weapon arts
Bare hand techniques

III. The formation of Sibpalki and its contents
Japanese Invasion in 1592 and the compilation of Muyejebo (Martial arts illustrations)
Muyejebo Beonyeoksokjip (Martial Arts Illustrations Supplementary Translation) and its contents.
Sibpalki and Muyedobotongji (The Comprehensive Illustrated Martial Arts) Practice and tests of Sibpalki

IV. Modern Sibpalki
Korean martial arts in modern times
Succession and development of today's Sibpalki