Respect, Humility, Patience
A direct translation of ‘Kumdo’ is ‘the way of the sword.’ The art of the sword in Korea evolved from a martial art heritage reaching back more than three thousand years to the time of the Bronze Age. Archeological records indicate that the sword and its art were a part of daily life in Korean antiquity. Warfare was more or less continuous, between different Koreans, as well as with the Chinese and Japanese.
About two thousand years ago at the time of the early Three Kingdoms period, the unique sword techniques called ‘Bon Gook Gum Bup,’ or ‘Native Sword,’ were developed by Shilla’s Hwa Rang warriors. The Three Kingdoms period marks a contentious period in which Koguryo, Paekche, and Shilla were in contention with each other and the Han Chinese for control of East Asia. Warriors in this period and the following Unified Shilla, Palhae, and Koryo Dynastic periods were known to be sword-bearing and to conduct their daily lives with strictly disciplined and moral manners. For every warrior the moral code was strict, but the discipline was stricter for those cherished honor above everything.
Around this time the root of Korean Martial Arts was developed under the name Hongik Inkan, which put the interest of the nation, tribe and family ahead of the interest of the individual. This Philosophy was adopted by the Hwarangdo warriors, an elite group trained in combat and philosophy. Their goal was to be exemplars of the national spirit; they were also central in the unification of the three kingdoms.
Many good examples of the warrior culture can be found in the Palhae and Koryo Dynastic periods from the 7th to 15th century. In particular, the Palhae Dynasty was found and ruled by the former Koguryo warrior class after the fall of Koguryo in 668 A.D. With the art of the sword and the disciplined warrior’s spirit Palhae was successful to conquer and to extend their territory from the Sungari and Amur rivers in northern Manchuria all the way down to the northern provinces of modern Korea at the first half of the 9th century, at the height of its power.
In 1790 King Jungjo ordered Yi Duk-moo, Park Je-ga, and Pak Dong-soo to collect and record the Korean martial arts being practiced in the land. The manual they created outlined the various weapons techniques being practiced. This became known as the Muye Dobo Tongi and is the oldest surviving record of Korean sword arts.
-Sources include Wikipedia, Dr. Kimm He-Young, and the Muye Dobo Tongi