Harmonizing body and mind
The history of Sunmudo
A close connection between the idea of national protection and Sunmudo in Korean Buddhism history.
Passed down of Buddhism and Sunmudo
It was the during the Three Kingdoms Period in Korean peninsula, Goguryeo, Baekje, Silla when Buddhism arrived in the Korea for the first time.
The king Sosurim of Goguryeo Dynasty adopted Buddhism in 372, when It had been 2 years for him to be a king. Buddhism also started to flourish in Baekje Dynasty when the King was Chimnyu in 384. There are two theories about introduction of Buddhism in Silla Dynasty, the first one is that Buddhism came overland to Silla Dynasty during the period of the 19th king Nulgi of Silla Dynasty through Goguryeo Dynasty. The other one is that Buddhism was introduced through by sea like a theory of the introduction of Buddhism in Gaya Dynasty which existed during the Three-Kingdoms Period but was very small.
Buddhism was introduced to the Korean Peninsula during the Three Kingdoms Period: Goguryeo in the 2nd year of King Sosurim (372), Baekje during the reign of King Chimryu (384), and Silla during the reign of the19th King Nulji.
There are two theories about introduction of Buddhism in Silla Dynasty. The first one is that Buddhism came overland to Silla Dynasty during the period of the 19th king Nulgi of Silla Dynasty through Goguryeo Dynasty. The other one is that Buddhism was introduced by sea to Gaya Dynasty, a very small realm of the Three Kingdoms Period too.
Especially, Golgulsa temple and Kirimsa temple nearby were built by the Buddhist monk Gwangyu from India and his followers. Gwangyu is one of the great Buddhist monk in the legends of Myanmar (the region belonged to India before).
Sunmudo’s idea and practice have affected Hwarang
It can be said that the training of Sunmudo, as a fundamental Buddhist practice, is the basis of Buddhism's patriotic ideology that cultivated the spirit of the Silla's Hwarang.
The spirit of Hwarangdo, based on Buddhist ideas and practices, became the driving force behind the patriotic Buddhism. It takes root in the teaching of the Buddhist monk Wongwang, famous for his secular five precepts. The Hwarang, usually translated as Flowering Knights, were an elite organization of young males of the Silla Dynasty.
The Hwarang greatly flourished during King Jinpyeong’s reign over Silla Dynasty. During a three-year training period the Hwarang would mainly stay in famous mountains such as Mt. Nam, Mt Hamwol, Mt. Geumgang and Mt. Jiri, to cultivate patriotism while practicing martial arts and culture. A temple was their training ground and the Buddhist monks were their teachers. Especially, Kirimsa temple on Mt Hamwol, which became later a classic place for the national protection of the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasty period.
Thus, the Hwarang played an important role in the unification of the three kingdoms, being taught martial arts, noble education and scholarship by eminent Buddhist monks through Buddhism. <Source : Samguksagi, The History of the Three Kingdoms>
In order to protect the Buddhist patriotic ideology, Sunmudo was referred to as the basic training to maintain the health and agility of each monk or martial art practitioner. This meant that even monks would be ready to participate in war during an invasion emergency. "The Encyclopedia of Korean National Culture".
During the Joseon Dynasty, Neo Confucian scholars and court oppressed Buddhism but despite this, Sunmudo continued to be practiced until the abolition of the Buddhist monk’s military system during the late Joseon Dynasty's (1804). At that time, Korean culture including Buddhism was repressed during the Japanese colonial period. Fortunately Sunmudo survived by being secretly passed down amongst Buddhist monks.
In the 1960s, the great Master Yangik established the “Bulgyo Geumgangyounggwan” (the old name for Sunmudo) training center in order to revive, systematize, and teach the martial art and it’s official methods to Buddhist monks.
Sunmudo Grand master Jeog Un, (now head monk of Golgulsa temple), was taught the heart-seal of Buddha ‘Simin’ (Korean) by the great master Yangik. Grand master Jeog Un changed the name ‘Bulgyo-geumgang-younggwan’ into the more contemporary name ‘Sunmudo’ and began transmitting Sunmudo to lay people as well as Buddhist monks. Thanks to the Sunmudo Grand master Jeog Un, many students and instructors all over the world are now practicing Sunmudo.
Sunmudo grand master Jeog Un also build and developed the Sunmudo college to cultivate the martial art worldwide by training Sunmudo instructors. Many Sunmudo centers in Korea and overseas are being run under the World Sunmudo Federation. The Headquarters of Sunmudo and the Sunmudo Daegeumgangmun foundation are also established in Golgulsa temple.