Conflicts between Japan and Korea have existed for centuries. Between 1592 and 1598, an attempted Japanese invasion of Korea took place but the invaders were eventually defeated. Near the end of this conflict, a Chinese military text entitled, Ki Hyu Shin Zu, authored by the Chinese military strategist and martial artist, Chuk, Kye Kwang was discovered. The text had been acquired from a slain Japanese General. This manuscript was then presented to Korean King Sun Jo (1567-1608). The text detailed a system of Chinese weapons and hand-to-hand combat designed specifically for warfare. King Sun Jo was so impressed by these methods that he invited Chinese generals and Chinese martial art masters who used this system to visit his capital, which they did. The King then ordered one of his generals, Han Kyo, to take what he had learned from both the text and the demonstrations and design a new system of battlefield combat. This system, written in six chapters, was created and published as, Moo Yeh Jee Bo or The Illustrations of the Martial Arts, which became the basis for formalized warfare in the Korean military. The test described techniques of such weapons as the sang ssoo do (long sword), jang chang (spear), dang pa (triple end spear), kon bong (long staff), and dung pa (shield defense).

Korean King Yong Jo (1724-1776) had the text revised during his reign. Twelve additional approaches to fighting were added and it was renamed, Moo Yeh Shin Bo or The New Illustrations of the Martial Arts. The added fighting techniques were the bon kuk kum (Korean style straight sword), wae kum (Japanese style sword), jee dook kum (admiral's sword), yee do (short sword), Sang kum (twin swords), wae kum (crescent sword), juk jang (long bamboo spear), hyup do (spear with blade), kee jang (flag spear), pyun kon (long staff with end like a nunchaka), kyo jun (combat engagement strategy), and kwon bop (hand-to-hand combat).

At the direction of the next King of Korea, King Jung Jo (1776-1800), in 1790 the Korean military strategists, Yi, Duk Moo and Park Je Ga again revised and renamed the text, Moo Yeh Do Bok Tong Gi, The Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of the Martial Arts, and added six additional chapters: ma sang (combat horsemanship), ki chang (spear fighting from horseback), ma sang wol do (sword fighting from horseback), ma sang sang kum (twin sword fighting from horseback), ma sang pyun kon (long staff with shorter end similar to nunchaka, fighting from horseback), and kyuk koo (gaming on horseback). This text is the primary remaining document of Korean martial art foundational history. The techniques presented in the manuscript are extremely limited and the drawings, which depict the maneuvers, are not very detailed, so, although it is great text, it was written for a different age, and, as such, it is not the holy grail of martial art manuscripts as some people believe it to be.

The Moo Yeh Do Bok Tong Gi was first published for world distribution, in its original form, over twenty years ago by tang doo do moo Duk Kwan founder Hwang Kee in this book, Tang Soo Do. It has recently been translated into English.

Go to top