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The Muyejebo (Compendium of Several Martial Arts) is the oldest extant Korean martial arts manual, written during the reign of King Seonjo (d. 1608). The king died before the compendium was complete, and it was first published, with the addition of material from Japanese martial arts, in 1610.
As the Imjin war dragged on for years, Korea needed a way to effectively train a large number of troops, and the Korean military adopted a training methodology based on a Ming dynasty Chinese military manual called the Ji Xiao Xin Shu (Hangul: 기효신서, Hanja: 紀效新書), written by the famed Chinese general, Qi Jiguang (戚继光). The book was of particular interest to Koreans as it was written by a Chinese commander who had successfully defeated a major Japanese pirate force that landed along the Southeast coast of China mere decades before the Imjin war. Korean officials created their own version of the military training manual based on the Chinese version and called it the Muyejebo.
The king ordered his officials to add supplemental information to the Muyejebo, but died before the updated work was published. His successor, king Gwanghaegun, continued the work of his father which led to the publication of the Muyejebo sokjip (무예제보 속집, 武藝諸譜續集) by Choe Gi-nam (Hangul: 최기남, Hanja: 崔起南). Around the time the book was to be published, four volumes of a Japanese martial arts manual were added as well, leading to the compilation of the Muyejebo Beonyeoksokjip (무예제보번역속집, 武藝諸譜飜譯續集) in 1610. Of this later version a woodcut edition still exists at the university of Keimyung.1
In 1759 the book was again revised and published as the Muyesinbo (Hangul: 무예신보, Hanja: 武藝新譜). Both books, the Muyejebo and the Muyesinbo, formed the basis for the compilation of another, more famous, Korean martial arts manual called the Muyedobotongji (Hangul: 무예도보통지, Hanja: 武藝圖譜通志), which was published in 1791.
The Muyejebo contains chapters about the use of the following weapons:
- Jangchang (long spear)
- Ssangsudo (long two-handed sword)
- Gonbang (long staff)
- Deungpae wisteria shield and throwing spear
- Deungpae wisteria shield and waist sword
- Nangseon (thorny spear)
- Dangpa (trident)
The information about the use of the shield with the throwing spear and the waist sword was in one chapter.
Only one copy of the original Muyejebo Beonyeoksokjip has survived to the present day. It was found in the library of the Keimyung University in Korea in 1998. In 2001 is was given the status of national treasure. The Keimyung University press republished the Muyejebo Beonyeoksokjip in 1999.