Sun (禪), also spelled seon or son, refers to meditation. It is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese word “chan;” it is perhaps best known as “zen”, its Japanese pronunciation. These words are derived from the sanscrit “dhyana”, which literally means ‘meditation’, or ‘meditative state’. The essence of this state is profound stillness.
Mu (武) means martial art (pronounced “wu” in Mandarin Chinese, as in “Wushu”). Do (道) means discipline, or the way of doing something; the method.
Sunmudo, then, literally means “the way of doing meditative martial arts”. It is both meditation and martial art. It is a unique in that it contains a variety of different elements that complement each other. It envelopes the dynamic and powerful movements of a martial art into the peaceful practices of meditation, yoga, and chi qong exercises.
Sunmudo has its origins in the Shilla Dynasty (57 B.C.E. – 935 A.D.). Throughout the course of Korean history, monks were called upon to both lead people spiritually and protect them temporally. Monks were often soldiers, and during both the Goryeo Dynasty (918 – 1392) and the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), monks fought against invasion by foreign powers.
During the 20th century, these ancient martial arts were revived and refocused in Beomeosa temple in Busan. In the 1980s, Grandmaster Jeog Un Sunim took these martial arts and introduced them general public for the first time.
In the early 1990s, the Grandmaster established Golgulsa as Sunmudo headquarters. Since then, Golgulsa has come to welcome some 28,000 guests and templestay participants through its temple gates each year. All visitors are encouraged to participate in Sunmudo training as part of their templestay experience.