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CompleteMartialArts.com - Muye Dobo Tongji : Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts of Ancient Korea


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Manufacturer: Turtle Press
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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 796.8
EAN: 9781880336489
ISBN: 1880336480
Label: Turtle Press
Manufacturer: Turtle Press
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 400
Publication Date: 2000-10
Publisher: Turtle Press
Studio: Turtle Press

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Editorial Reviews:

In 1789, King Chongjo, ruler of the Yi dynasty, ordered General Yi Duk-moo to compile an official textbook on all martial art forms then present in Korea to preserve them for future generations. The result, the Muye Dobo Tongji, is the only surviving classical text on the Korean arts of war. Based on the earliest known Korean martial arts treatise, the Muye Chebo written in 1599, the Muye Dobo Tongji clearly shows the influence of the neighboring Japanese and Chinese armies.

Through hundreds of wars and invasions, Korean soldiers adapted battlefield skills and tactics from their enemies, creating a unique system of their own. Organized into 24 distinct disciplines comprised of empty hand fighting, weaponry and horsemanship, this book is an accurate historical snapshot of the warrior arts of the hermit kingdom in the late 18th century.

The release of The Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts of Ancient Korea marks the first time this volume is available in English. Carefully translated from the original text and illustrated with reproductions of ancient woodblock carvings, this book provides fascinating insights into Korea’s martial arts legacy.


Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Good by itself, Awesome with the DVD
Comment: Dr. Sang H. Kim has made a very accessible translation of a military text written in 1790. This text contains martial arts forms that contain the weapon techniques existing in the far east at that time. The Korean Peninsula is a dangerous place, near larger, more powerful neighbors including: China, Mongolia, Manchuria and Japan. All these countries have long military traditions. While the military tradition flourished in Japan among the Samurai, during the 1300s the Koreans embraced Confucianism, which lead to a reduced emphasis on the military arts. A Japanese invasion in 1592 demonstrated an urgent need for the neglected military arts. A Chinese manual was acquired. After the Manchu invasions of 1627 and 1636, military preparedness again became important, and two more additions were made to the text, including Japanese techniques. The result is a well rounded manual of the weapon techniques which existed up to 1790.

The ancient Koreans put their military techniques into forms, in which these techniques could be practiced. This manual includes forms showing techniques with various weapons including short sword, long sword, twin sword, crescent sword, spear, flag spear, long stick, and even an early from of hand-and-foot techniques. The brief introduction to each form includes either some information about the weapon or the historical background surrounding the form. This book faithfully reproduces the diagrams and illustrations of the original text, with English translations of the movements. As any student of the martial arts knows, it is virtually impossible to learn a form from the printed description. This text is no different. Furthermore, some of the terms, such as "goose posture," "military messenger posture," and "single horned bull combat position," are unfamiliar to today's readers. Fortunately, the publisher also has a DVD titled "Ancient Korean Sword and Weapon Arts," Korean Sword and Weapon Arts DVD in which Korean masters demonstrate most of the forms in this book (excluding the forms on horseback). The DVD illustrates the postures, and the forms, just as the book explains the weapons and the background. This book, together with the DVD, provides a wealth of information for a student of the martial arts, especially for the sword student as about half the forms use some kind of sword. This book and DVD cut through the myths of martial arts schools and shows how martial arts were actually practiced in the far-east in ancient times. One rarely finds a bargain in the martial arts. This book, together with the DVD, are a best value and a valuable resource for the student of ancient weapons.

Paul Trogen, Ph.D.


Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Korean martial artist's must buy
Comment: If you're interested in learning about the past or just curious as to how martial arts were started pick this book up.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Long Awaited Historical Manuscript!
Comment: For years Korean stylists have heard about the Mu Ye Do Bo Tong Ji (MYDBTJ). FINALLY, we can not only see illustrations from the original woodcuts, but read a decent English translation of the work. Sang H. Kim has done more in the popular martial arts media (with the possible exception of He Yong Kimm) to explain Korean martial arts to the general public than anyone else. It says a lot that in the year 2000, someone (Kim) finally found it worthwhile to share the MYDBTJ with the folks who have heard so much about how it impacted the development of their martial art (tae kwon do, hapkido, etc).

Compiled from a variety of (credited) Chinese military texts by court official Lee, Dok-mu, the MYDBTJ came into use in Korea during the year 1790, Yi Dynasty. This 400 page volume offers us an uncommon view of actual practical martial skill utilized in days past, and surprisingly for many of us, finally dispells the myth of the importance of empty handed fighting among warriors of days past. For with the exception of a single chapter (pg 311-332), the entire focus of this volume is upon drilling with weapons (sword, staff, pole weapons, polo, horsemanship, etc)! It is of interest to note that in this section, mention is made of sources that refer both to the Shaolin method and death point striking.

For a truely excellent perspective on the MYDBTJ, a recommended read is the article "Korea's Mu Yei Do Bo Tong Ji: A Sample of Martial Arts training in the Yi Dynasty" by John Della Pia in _Journal of Asian Martial Arts_ Vol. 3 #2 (1994). I should also mention that although the MYDBTJ is compiled from CHINESE documents there are many people who in recent years have used the MYDBTJ as a guide in trying to re-create old-style "native" Korean martial arts, among them Hwang Kee of the Moo Duk Kwan, various Hapkido and taekwondo teachers and others in Korea who have created both empty handed and sword forms based upon their unique interpretations of the sequences contained in this manual. It is interesting to obsrve that virtually none of these independent interpretations agree with one another in form or application, suggesting that even folks with the benefit of growing up immersed in Korean language and culture have difficulty understanding this 210 year old work. This is due in part to vagueness of the illustrations and the terms used to describe the techniques, and the fact that it was originally written in classical Chinese. The terms include a vernacular which probably referred to commonly known techniques that needed no further explanation for an audience of 18 century soldiers. The unfortunate fact today is that native Korean martial arts with the exception of taek kyun (kicking), ssireum (wrestling), and archery have been lost to us as have the specifics concerning the skills shown in these manuals drawn from overwhealmingly Chinese sources. Unfortunately, nothing outside of Korea has been published on either Taek Kyun, Ssireum, or Korean archery.

I highly recommend this volume to ANYONE engaged in martial arts practice (regardless of the nationalistic identity of your respective art). It will offer a unique historical perspective on pre-modern Asian military preparation and drill which is simply unavailable from other sources. You now have the opportunity to form your own opinions and draw your own conclusions from this fascinating historical document.


Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: A gem of a book for historical weaponry enthusiasts!
Comment: Wow! What an awesome book! I have always, as far as I can remember since beginning my martial arts training 15 years ago, wanted to know how martial arts were REALLY practiced back when they were really used in warfare. This book is a complete answer to the question. Now, many of you, if you live in the Western world, are probably most familiar with Japanese arts like Judo, Aikido, Kendo and Karate (originally meant "Chinese-hand", and came from the Ryukyu islands). This book, of course, is Korean, but that should in no way diminish its interest for you. Korea was a unified kingdom ever since about 700 AD. Japan arguably never truly was until the Meiji restoration in the 19th Century. So, the Koreans produced a textbook for their military whereas the Japanese kept their techniques secret from each other, and there are few traditions today in Japan that keep them alive (Kendo, Judo and the rest are modern creations meant for modern times). This is also, naturally, the case in Korea as well, BUT there is this book that has preserved the ancient techniques as they were back then for us today. The book describes in detail many series of techniques performed with the whole gamut of weapons, from fists to two-sword techniques on horseback. It even describes contests and games that can be used to sharpen skill and these include things, interestingly enough, like soccer and polo among others. I think in most cases it would not be possible to simply pick up the book and recreate whole forms in the backyard, but you can certainly learn and practice alot of individual techniques with the book in hand or conveniently placed nearby. In this way you can learn many of the techniques used by the ancient soldiers of Korea in their battles against Chinese, Yalu tribesmen, Japanese pirates and invading Mongols. I found the section on the Yedo (the so-called "short sword" which is what the Japanese call the Katana) to be particularly useful due to its detailed explanations of dozens of postures and attack/defense techniques. Generally, the Korean arts have received much less attention than the Japanese and Chinese, and this is probably due to the fact that the Japanese came up with popular sporting versions of their arts earlier than the Koreans and that Chinese culture is so strong worldwide through the cinema etc. The fact of the matter is that the Koreans beat off both the Chinese and the Japanese repeatedly throughout history, having been conquered only once before the 20th Century, and that was by the Mongols, whose victorious cavalry techniques they later adopted. During the Japanese invasions of the late 16th Century, the Koreans were first caught off guard, but soon rallied and through guerilla action on land by warrior monks and soldiers, and through armoured naval technology and tactics at sea defeated the Japanese in spite of the fact that they had the advantage of being equipped with the modern Portuguese-style arquebus and cannon. Another thing I really like about the book is that it speaks well of Chinese and Japanese techniques, many of which are adopted by the authors for instruction to the Korean troops. Rather than be held up by silly pettiness and pride, the scholars of this book make full use of other nations' techniques wherever they are useful. "Know thy enemy, know thyself" as Sun Tzu wrote. Foreign weapons are also displayed and described, and the history of each weapon is given as exhaustively as possible from available sources. If you are the sort of person who always wondered how Korean halberds, swords, spears, shields, staves, and so on were used, and you want to learn how to use them yourself, this is THE BOOK.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: The only surviving classical text on the Korean arts of war
Comment: In 1789, King Jungjo, ruler of the Yi dynasty (1392-1910), ordered General Yi Duk-moo, Park Je-ga and Pak Dong-soo to compile an official textbook on all martial arts forms then extent in Korea for the purpose of preserving them for future generations. Their efforts became the "Muye Dobo Tongji", and the only surviving classical text on the Korean arts of war. Organized into twenty-four distinct disciplines comprised of empty hand fighting, weaponry and horsemanship, The Comprehensive Illustrated Manual Of Martial Arts Of Ancient Korea is ably translated into English for the benefit of a western readership and a core contribution to any personal, professional, or academic martial arts library collection.


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