Gyeongdang a Korean martial art consisting of 24 military arts. The 24 military arts come from the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592. Korea who had had a peaceful life for 200 years was defeated quickly by the well trained Japanese troops. One of the main reasons Japan lost this war to Korea was because of Korea's superior naval technologies like the Kobukson when compared to the simple Japanese naval fleets. The invading Japanese could not resupply their troops because of the advanced Korean Navy seemed stop them at every turn. Later, in order to stop the rampaging Japanese troops still in Korea, the Koreans with the help of some elite martial artists from China and drawing upon traditional Korean martial artists as well as acquire text books of Japanese swordsmanship, new kinds of Korean martial arts started developing. Two scholars, Park Je-Ga and Yi Deok-Mu, published a military arts book containing 24 military arts (the name of book is Mu Ye Do Bo Tong Ji). These 24 military arts were a requirement for regular army troops.1
The Jangchang is a 5-foot-long (1.5 m) spear made from the wood of the yew tree. It can also be made from a similarly soft wood, including bamboo in the right climate. It was considered the most effective conventional weapon on the battlefield due to its flexibility and length. The Jangchang was widely used in the Siege of Pyeongyang (1593) during the Imjin War.
The Jukjangchang is a 20-foot-long (6.1 m) spear made of bamboo and tipped with a four inch (102 mm) long blade. The primary advantage of the Jukjangchang on the battlefield was its length and sharp blade, making it suitable for fighting many enemies simultaneously.
The Gichang is a flag spear, a 9-foot-long (2.7 m) staff with a nine inch long blade at the end. The colored flag, attached at the end of the spear just below the blade, was used to create confusion in battle. Troops surrounded the enemy and waved the flags vigorously during an attack. It was also used to encourage the troops, like a rallying cry, in battle. The strength of the Gichang was its ability to make deceptive attacks and sudden directional changes to attack the center of the enemy's line.
The Dangpa is a triple-bladed spear, sometimes called a trident. It is between seven feet, six inches (152 mm) and eighteen feet long and has either an iron or wooden tip. The dangpa was a fundamental defensive weapon that was sometimes used to launch fire at enemy troops.
The Nangseon is a 15-foot-long (4.6 m) spear made of either bamboo or iron. It has nine to eleven branches extending out from the main shaft, each studded with small metal hooks. This deadly weapon was invented by Chuk Kye-kwang (Qi Jiguang) during the 1592 war with Japan.
Ssangsudo (long sword)
The Ssangsudo is a 6-foot-5-inch (1.96 m) sword from Japan. It is so powerful that it can cut or break another sword upon striking it. Japanese gunmen also used this sword as a sidearm for close range combat. The Ssangsudo is also known as the Jangdo, Yonggeom or Pyonggeom.
Yedo (short sword)
The Yedo is a short sword, four feet four inches in length. It was used for training soldiers in swordsmanship.
Waegeom (Japanese sword)
Japanese swordsmanship was clearly recognized as superior to that of the sword techniques of China or Joseon in the 16th century, so King Sukjong ordered Kim Che-gun to acquire the techniques and text books of the Japanese. Four styles of 16th century Japan are recorded in the Waegeom section of the Muyedobotongji: Toyu Ryu, Woonkwang Ryu, Chunryu Ryu, and Ryupee Ryu.
Gyojeon (combat engagement)
Gyojeon is a Japanese method of practicing swordsmanship with a training partner. In the original Japanese text book, techniques were documented with a double bladed sword, but Joseon soldiers practiced with the single bladed sword to prevent injury.
Jedokgeom, literally translated as the Admiral's sword, is a method of sword combat developed by Chinese Admiral Yi Yu-song (Li Rusong). Admiral Yi was a descendant of Korean lineage and was stationed in Korea during King Sinjong's reign. The Jedokgeom was characterized by spinning movements, which were used to break free when a soldier was encircled on the battlefield.
The Bonguk geom is a native Joseon sword style as proven by its mention in the legend of Hwang-chang, a Silla Hwarang warrior. There is evidence that both Japan and China adapted some of the techniques of the Bonguk geom.
Ssanggeom (a pair of swords)
The Ssanggeom are single-bladed twin swords of any length (most commonly short swords, like the Yo do). The original swords were two feet, ten inches (254 mm) long, but in later years, there was not a specific type of sword prescribed for practice. The Ssanggeom were used in such a way, that one sword could be used to block an opponent's attack while the other was used to attack with a counter-strike.
The Woldo is a 9-foot-long (2.7 m) crescent sword. Its blade is moon shaped, with a small blade projecting below the main blade. The smaller blade has a feather tied to it. Although a fearsome looking weapon, it was used primarily for practice among infantry soldiers, having been considered too weak for use in battle.
The Hyeopdo is a spear sword with a 3-foot-long (0.91 m) handle. It resembles the Woldo but with a single, thinner blade. It was rarely used in battle, because it was considered, like the Woldo, to be too weak.
The Deungpae is the sword and shield art. The sword, used for attacking, was primarily a short sword, such as the Yo Do. The shield was three feet seven inches in diameter and was most commonly made of woven wisteria branches (in the south) or willow branches wrapped in leather (in the north). It was used by the infantry to defend against a variety of weapons including the dart spear and bird gun.
Gwonbeop is the only empty-handed fighting method of the twenty-four. It was practiced as both an empty handed self-defense skill and as preparation for learning the more complicated sword arts. There were both external and internal styles of practice.
Gonbang (a long club with a small edge)
The Gonbang is a 7-foot-long (2.1 m) stick with a 2-inch-wide (51 mm) duck bill–shaped blade at the end. It was used to stab (like a spear) or strike (like a stick) enemies and was especially effective against the Deungpae.
The Pyeongon is a flail, an 8-foot-long (2.4 m) staff with a 2-foot-long (0.61 m) club attached to the end of it by a chain or metal ring. The Pyeongon looks similar to a nunchaku except that one segment is much longer than the other whereas the nunchaku's sticks are equal in length. It was often used to club enemies attempting to scale the walls of a castle or fortress.
Gichang (spear fighting on horseback)
Gichang is the art of using the Jangchang (long spear) on horseback. The spear is fifteen feet long and the cavalry troops often practiced for combat by thrusting the spear into rice straw dummies or participating in duels. This Gichang has different Hanja in the name than the aforementioned.
Masang Ssanggeom (twin swords on horseback)
Masang Ssanggeom is the use of the twin swords on horseback. Dandos, short swords carried as side arms, were used. The famous warrior, Jin An, used 7-foot-long (2.1 m) swords in combat on horseback but he was an exception.
Masang Woldo (crescent sword on horseback)
Masang Woldo is the use of the crescent sword on horseback. In the 16th century war with the Japanese, the Masang Woldo was instrumental in repelling the Japanese invaders. After the war King Sinjong built a monument in Seoul in memory of General Gwan Woo who was credited with the first use of the Woldo.
Masang Pyeongon (flail method on horseback)
The Pyeongon used on horseback has a longer chain than that used by the infantry, allowing the mounted combatant to strike enemies on the ground. The stick at the end of the chain is studded with iron nails or other sharp protrusions to inflict fatal wounds on impact.
Gyeokgu (ball game on horseback)
Gyeokgu is a game similar to polo. Contestants on horseback use long handled mallets to strike a small leather ball. It was used to train soldiers and horses for mounted combat and to test the skills of the riders. Gyeokgu games were often surrounded by a great deal of ceremony and attended by royalty.
Masang Jae (horsemanship)
Masang Jae is a system of acrobatic techniques on horseback. The skills were primarily used to deceive the enemy in combat by hiding the body under the horse or playing dead. Other skills were used to allow the rider to attack the enemy, such as standing on the saddle to shoot the enemy with the three muzzle gun. The techniques were originated by Suk Ho-ui who was said to be as agile as a monkey riding a horse.