My very first lesson in Daehan Haidong Gumdo involved learning the basic strokes through the sequence often known as ‘Mija Begi’ (미자베기). ‘Mi’ (미) is the Korean hanja character for ‘rice’ while ”ja’ (자) means ‘character. Written in hanja the character, ‘rice’ is:
Simple as it seems, four months later and my technique is still bad. This is partly because I’m constantly battling aching wrists and tennis elbow from over-striking, and because I’ve primarily focused on my left and right naeryeo begi (내려베기 – downward slash). These have definitely improved. The naeryo-begi are the second and third strokes of mija begi.
However, once you’ve mastered, or at least managed to improve the most basic of techniques, they need to be incorporated into footwork and this is where ee-dong-shik mija begi (이동식미자베기) is utilized. To complicate matters, it is also required that, ‘shin-keom-hap-eel-kwe-do-yeo-shin’ (신검합일-쾌도여신) is chanted throughout. In hanja, these syllables are: 神劍合一 快刀如神. About their meaning and significance, I currently have only a vague notion so I will save any analysis for a later post. However, understanding the spirit of Gumdo can be aided by an awareness of hanja and Korean/Sino Korean terminology.
The ee-dong-shik sequence is short but its role in helping the student to perform precision strokes while moving, and chanting, is crucial. In it’s ‘perfection’ lies many months training.
Master Kwon (권용국), my teacher, performs e-dong-shik mija begi (이동식미자베기).
Note – sometimes ‘mi’ is replaced by ‘kwang’ (광) as in hanja, this is of similar significance in terms of visual representation. ‘Kwang’ means ‘bright’ and in hanja is; 光. In this case, the sequence would be known as ‘ee-dong-shik kwang-ja begi’ (이동식광자베기).