Haidong Gumdo is a martial art based upon traditional Korean swordsmanship. Its techniques are said to date back to the Korean Three Kingdoms period (around the 7th century C.E.) and have been described in various historical texts over the years. During the 1970s the various Korean sword forms were compiled and put forth as a unified art, Haidong Gumdo. Although other Korean martial arts, such as Taekwondo and Hapkido incorporate some sword forms into their curriculum, Gumdo is the only one to place singular emphasis on sword technique.
Gumdo distinguishes itself from other sword based martial arts by its emphasis on practicality and its application as a “battlefield” art. Other sword arts, such as the Japanese Kendo, focus on dueling (1v1 encounters), movement in Gumdo is more dynamic emphasizing multi-person combat.
Practice in Gumdo is open to all and no martial arts background or prior experience is necessary to begin. Advancement in the art is determined primarily by one's proficiency in forms and other technical activities, such as paper cutting and candle extinguishing. Sparring, though it exists within the art for those desirous of it, is not required for advancement. Likewise, there is no necessary level of physical fitness required to beginners, all are welcome.
Master Derek Graham
Unlike most masters one would read about, at a young age Master Graham had no interest in the martial arts. Even though his parents enrolled him in Tang Soo Do around the age of 10, he did not take to it, made some excuse to his parents about how much it hurt, and quit after 3 or 4 classes. He would first pick up a sword during his high school days when he studied Olympic style fencing, though enjoyable, it did not truly resonate with him. It was not until his college days that he discovered Haidong Gumdo, in the form of a university martial arts club. He would become the president of the club for years up until his graduation. Though he would continue to practice, it would not be until about 3 years into his graduate studies that Master Graham would realize his desire to be a master. Thereupon he went to Jeju, South Korea where he spent years studying Haidong Gumdo. He returned to the west and was declared a master by Grandmaster Chung Won, the head of the Canadian Gumdo Association. He has now been instructing in the martial arts for nearly a decade.
Image: Master Graham with Grand Master Chung
Master John W. Baylor (Tang Soo Do)
1st Dan/Former owner of Upper Marlboro Martial Arts Ctr
“Master Graham is a knowledgeable and patient instructor (HaiDong GumDo) with a wide range of experience having trained in Korea and the U.S.. He is an excellent swordsmans and demonstrates and explains the material being taught. I met Master Graham more than ten years ago and can assure you he is always prepared and prompt.”