About the Martial Art Sibpalki
Unlike modern martial arts or even traditional martial arts, some of which falsely claim histories dating back thousands of years, Sibpalki is a classical martial art with a documented military training manual history dating back to 1759 with some methods dating back to 1598.
Sibpalki literally translates as 18 martial methods and refers to the 18 unmounted (non-cavalry) close combat martial arts as described in the military training manual Muyedobotongji which was published in 1790 during the Joseon Dynasty and used to train the Joseon soldiers. Prince Sado first used this term to describe these 18 arts in the manual Muyesinbo (1759) after he added 12 more methods to the 6 already described in the Muyejebo (1598). The Muyedobotongji added a further 6 arts that are cavalry related. As these Equestrian arts implementing Sibpalki techniques were not transmitted directly from teacher to student, some modern Sibpalki practitioners are currently making efforts to revive these arts. The Muyedobotongji provides a unique insight into the military methods and tactics from the Joseon dynasty as it was constructed at the height of hand to hand combat before these cold weapons were displaced with firearms. It represents a culmination and evolution of martial art techniques that were present in China, Korea and Japan from that period as was necessary for Korea to successfully protect itself from the invasions of its neighbours. Essentially, Sibpalki is a cohesive and integrated system utilising classical and traditional Korean swords (swordsmanship), other military weapons including polearms and spears, and empty hand techniques that the Joseon military used.
The Sibpalki Australia practitioners are students of Dr. Choi Bok-Kyu however, they also train in Korea with other Sibpalki masters of Kim Gwang-suk.
Confusion over the use of the word Sibpalki
The Korean hangul for Sibpalki can sometimes be romanised in various ways depending on what system is being used but is sometimes spelled Sibpalgi, Shippalgi, Sipalki or Sippalki. During modern times the term Sibpalki was often incorrectly used to describe martial arts practiced in Korea that were of Chinese origin. While Sibpalki does have resemblances to some Chinese martial arts and some of the methods do originate from China , they were assimilated into the Joseon military and altered to the requirements that the military had for the day. There are also other current arts that may refer to the term in what they teach, however, if they are not practicing the 18 methods as described by Prince Sado who coined the term and as described in the Muyedobotongji then they are not practicing Sibpalki.
The 18 Martial Arts
Gonbong (long stick – also known as Jangbong)
Nangseon (multi-tipped spear)
Jangchang (long spear)
Ssangsudo (two-handed sword)
Gwonbeop (fist method – this is the unarmed component)
Jedokgeom (Admiral’s Sword)
Bongukgeom (Shilla Sword)
Yedo (sharp sword)
Ssanggeom (twin swords)
Woldo (crescent sword)
Hyeopdo (spear sword)
Waegeom (Japanese sword)
Gyojeon (sword combat)
Gichang (flag spear)
Jukjangchang (long bamboo spear)
Note: the first 6 listed are those from the Muyejebo.
Typically a student will start training in empty handed methods (Gwonbeop) so that they can learn basic techniques and train their body in preparation for using weapons. This is the foundation for Sibpalki training. Gwonbeop was originally used as a basic training methodology and only ever used as a last resort in combat if the soldier’s weapon was lost and only for as long as necessary until he could regain a weapon. The student will also initially learn Gonbong (the long staff) as this is deemed the mother of all martial weapons and techniques, such that someone who is proficient in its use will be able to successfully use the many other weapons of Sibpalki.
Kim Gwang-suk (style name Haebeom, born 1936), is the modern father of Sibpalki. Kim learned Sibpalki in a Taoist community in the Jiri mountains of Korea from Yun Myeong-Deok as well as in Busan during the Korean War, and has since disseminated the martial art to the general population in Korea. His learning covers not only the Sibpalki martial arts, but also oriental medicine, meditation, and kigong (qigong). As a Taoist he was reluctant to show Sibpalki to the public, however, the circumstances of Korea and the martial arts being practiced in addition to some of the fabrications surrounding the history of these arts in the 70’s and 80’s lead him to transmit Sibpalki systematically.
Kim has published the books:
Skill Analysis on Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts (Muye dobo tongji silgi haeje),
Essentials of Fist Methods (Gwonbeop yogyeol, Dongmunseon, 1992),
Korean Sword Methods (Bonguk geom, Dongmunseon, 1995),
Syllabus of Joseon Spears and Staffs (Joseon changbong gyojeong).
Kim Gwang-suk founded the Korean Sibpalki Association (Dae Han Sibpalki Hyeop Hwe).
His teachings and methodology has since been verified by notable academics in Korea such as Dr Choi Bok-Kyu as being authentic Sibpalki that accurately follows the Muyedobotongji. Currently if someone wishes to practice authentic Sibpalki then they must learn from an appropriately accredited instructor who draws their lineage back to Kim Gwang-suk.
The ROK Army Traditional Honor Guards, trained by Kim’s students, now also perform the traditional martial arts Sibpalki.
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Haetae Martial Arts - Taekwondo and Hapkido website.
Korea Sibpalki Association website.
Sibpalki Netherlands website.
Society for the Preservation of Sippalki website.
Korean Institute for Martial Arts website.
Korean Institute for Martial Arts Facebook website.
Sibpalki Netherlands Facebook website.
Sibpalki Rijswijk (NL) website.
Sibpalki Terrassa (Esp) website.