The oldest Korean martial arts book published in 1759!

10:35:00 AM Tkd kwan 4 Comments


 Talking about the ancient Korean martial arts was always a huge debate because some opinions ignore the existence of native martial arts there. Well, it is not the topic we are going to talk about in this article, but we would talk about an old book written about forms of martial arts that were practiced in Korea a long time ago. 
Muye dobo tongji book  proves that Korean people were practicing martial arts, at least few hundreds of years ago.

Muye dobo tongji is the only surviving Korean martial art book for now, and it was based on other text book versions that were written in the 16 and 18 centuries. according to Korean historians, there were other books about the art of fighting such as the one named Muye Chebo published in 1592, and Muye Shinbo (New Illustrations of Marital Arts) published in 1759, but unfortunately there is no copy for both them.
We are fortunate  was saved :)
Muye dobo tongji was written during the Yi Dynasty by Yi Deokmu (이덕무), Baek Dong-soo (백동수) and Pak Je-ga (박제가)  by an order from the king Chongjo in 1789.
This text book was published in 4 volumes, each one of them was about a certain topic of martial arts.

The first volume was about the 1.5 m wooden spear that was widely used in wars due to its flexibility and effectiveness, long bamboo spear, trident, flag spear, thorny spear and the spear on horseback.
The second volume was about the Japanese sword, sharp sword and the long sword.
The third was about the shield, short halberd, halberd on horseback, halberd, double sword on horseback, double sword, Korean sword and commander sword.
The fourth and last volume was an important one because it contained what was called Gwonbeop (권법) which is the unarmed fighting techniques, and it contained eighteen forms.
This volume also included flail, flail on horseback, stick, Korean polo and equestrian skills.

This text book documented 24 of the Korean military arts, and it was illustrated by many pictures that show the art of fighting, with arms and without arms, so there is no doubt about the content.
The original manual of Muy dobo tongji book was written in Chinese, and it gives an image about the history of the arts that were practiced by the warriors during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Korean martial arts during that period were influenced by the warrior arts of China and Japan armies. 

In my recent visit to South Korea, i have visited a Museum there of Taekwondo, and i have asked about Muye dobo tongji real manual, but they have told me that is a Korean treasure and it is not a kind of books to be sold, i was kind of disappointed but i had to understand what they were talking about, it is a martial arts book written over 200 years ago!

This article was not written to relate Muye dobok tongji to Taekwondo, but to give you an idea that Korean people especially the warriors were practicing some forms of martial arts during the ancient dynasties.



  1. Great post...nice to know something interesting about Korean martial arts book.Martial art is very compulsory for self defense.To get best Self Defense Singapore classes , visit Kali Majapahit Singapore.

  2. Where can I purchase one of these books

  3. Its nice to read your article about the history of korean martial arts thankyou for sharing such a beautiful research you did on that book.