This is the Translator's Preface from the English language translation of the Muye Dobo Tongji: Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts of Ancient Korea followed by selected excerpts from the original text.
This book is an ancient Korean martial arts manual, written by Yi Duk-moo, Park Je-ga and Pak Dong-soo in 1790, under the order of King Jungjo. This premiere English translation of the manual is the result of nearly a decade of planning and work.
According to historic documents, archery was the only official martial art that had been practiced by the soldiers of Chosun (ancient name of Korea used during the Yi Dynasty, 1392-1910). Considering the fact that yangban (aristocratic class) literati dominated the political, economical, and cultural life during this period, it is not surprising that practice of martial arts was looked downed upon and generally discouraged.
After the Japanese invasion (1592-1598), King Sunjo (1567-1608) acquired a Chinese martial arts manual called Kihyo Shinsu written by Chuk Kye-kwang of the Ming Dynasty. He took a personal interest in the arts and subsequently invited the Ming military officers for a demonstration of their fighting methods. The king ordered his military officer Han Kyo to compile six fighting methods for further study. Han Kyo documented the kon bang (long stick), dung pae (shield art), nang sun (multiple tip bamboo spear), jang chang (long spear), dang pa (triple tip spear), and ssang soo do (long sword) which he published collectively under the title Muye Jebo (Martial Arts Illustrations).
Following this period, the first Manchu invasion took place in 1627 (called Chungmyo Horan) and the second invasion in 1636 (called Byungja Horan). King Injo (1623-1649) surrendered to the Manchus and his two sons, including the Crown Prince Sohyun, had to accompany the Manchu army as hostages. Read More