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Sword Martial Arts - Wisdom & Insight

What is Siljun Dobup? 

Written by  Grand Master Jin K. Seong

Siljun Dobup is the practice of using the sword correctly. As opposed to the showy modern forms that are nothing more than entertainment, Siljun Dobup aims to strike a balance between theory and practice.


Every martial art has an original form. Form is very important and it must be real. To be realistic, real combat experience is necessary. Through practice, that experience is proven and preserved. I have been practicing Kendo for over 30 years, always with the mentality that I am fighting real opponents. Siljun Dobup is based on real combat, and many unnecessary movements have been removed. With the right mentality, anyone can enjoy practicing this martial art.


Siljun Dobup teaches etiquette, tradition, breathing, drawing, sheathing, basic cutting and, in order of progression, Ji (Earth), Soo (Water), Poong (Wind), Hwa (Fire) and Cheon (Sky) art forms aim to create healthy minds and bodies. 

The ultimate goal of Siljun Dobup 

Written by  Grand Master Jin K. Seong

The ultimate goal of Siljun Dobup is "controlling the mind". The human being consists of mind and body. We think our body and mind are ours or are they? We often make mistakes, regret, collapse and abandon when we fail to control our body and mind. Can we control our mind then? Can we really become the master of our mind? Through training in Siljun Dobup we seek the answer. Siljun Dobup is designed to achieve the ultimate state were the body and mind become One.


There are five ascending stages of training in Siljun Dobup Ji (Earth), Soo (Water), Poong (Wind), Hwa (Fire), Cheon (Sky). There are also some basic cutting moves to study before Ji, however major training begins at the level of Ji.


The details of each stage’s goal and mind study will be explained below:


1.Set Ji (Earth) - Putting down “the self”

Ji is Earth. Earth is the origin of life and death. Since the Earth is the fundamental in all lives, it is the first stage of learning. Learning is accepting. We need to empty what we have already to accept new things. It means to be humble enough to accept the teacher from whom you’re eager to learn.


SOO-PA-RHEE - This terminology stands for the three stages of martial arts training originated from Buddhist terminology.

SOO - Keeping what we’re taught. It is a stage that we keep the principles and basics learned from the teacher.

PA - Is the stage that one breaks the mold by one’s individuality and ability to create a unique style based on keeping the principles and basics. This stage is planned intentional and conscious.

RHEE - Is the stage of natural and unconscious training and is the extension of stage PA. This is the ultimate stage that the trainee performs PA freely without losing reason, rules and basics.


It is impossible to access learning without studying the stage of SOO. A trainee can fall into conceit easily and too much pride will lead to the failure of communication with others. That is why the trainee needs a guide in the beginning stage.  A strong relationship has to be built between the teacher and disciple at the stage of SOO. The disciple must have faith in the teacher’s way even though he or she disagrees with his ideology. It is a matter of sincerity not of right or wrong. Again, without emptying what you already have and being humble, the journey of learning could go wrong.


Set Ji is designed as the training stage of SOO. A trainee will learn to keep the basics and principles of the sword technically and mentally in the frame of the teacher’s philosophy. It is a very straight forward chapter that every student must follow.


2. Set Soo (Water) - Flowing like water

Soo means water. Our mind should flow like water. Water can harmonize in any place and transform into any shape without losing its character. Our mind should be flexible like water. We should open our minds to the unlimited possibility for greater achievement. The movement of Soo should be big and smooth with flexibility as water.


3. Set Poong (Wind) - Stopping like wind

The wind blows or stops without being seen. We practice severing and stopping in Poong. Our minds are limitless and free of charge.  Sometimes our minds are stuck on a memory of the past or fear of the unknown in the future. This is not an efficient way of controlling our minds. If this happens during sparring or competition, one cannot maintain the freedom of moving and find the weakness of the opponent.

In set Poong by abruptly cutting out unnecessary things, we make room for the positive energy of Set Hwa.


4. Set Hwa (Fire) - Burning like fire

Fire is energy. When a person builds up Chi energy he can have more power, passion, confidence and dream bigger dreams.


You will learn how to put down “the self” and accept in Set Ji and Soo. You will learn how to make room in your mind by severing unnecessary things in Set Poong. And finally you will learn how to fill up your positive Chi energy in Set Hwa. The movements of Hwa are lively and continuous. You should train to generate spirited Chi energy as if there is a blazing fire inside of you!


5. Set Cheon (Sky) – Harmony

Cheon is the final chapter to start controlling your mind after completing Set Ji, Soo, Poong and Hwa. Cheon is Sky and it covers everything. It is tolerant of good, bad, beautiful, ugly, hot and cold. The existence of all things is under Sky.


You should be able to recognize and accept that you are the master of your mind. Cheon is different for you and me. There is my Cheon and your Cheon. Everything is free and in harmony.

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