Of the Chogye Order

There were two primary types of Buddhism practiced in Korea, the Kyojong, or doctrinal schools, with their focus on Buddhist writings or sutras, and the Soenjong, or meditational schools focused on the attainment of enlightenment through meditation. The bastions of Korean Soen (Chinese: Ch'an; Japanese: Zen) Buddhism were the Nine Mountain Sects.

In 1170 a military coup led by the military class toppled the Koryo government, and for the next hundred years, the last 40 of which were spent in almost constant warfare during a time when the Mongols ravaged the country, Korea was run by military dictators.

"After the seizure of power by the military a new development occurred as well in Koryo Buddhism. This was the establishment of the Chogye sect within the Son school. When the monk Uich'on founded Ch'ont'ae (Chinese: T'ien-t'ai) sect in Koryo, he drew many of the promising young monks away from the Nine Mountain Sects of Son, but at the same time he inspired a revival within the Son sects. The Nine Mountain Sects of Son now took the new name of the Chogye sect, and began to flourish under the leadership of the monk Chinul (1158-1210). Chinul made 'sudden enlightenment [followed by] gradual cultivation' his basic precept, a formula that gave priority to meditation but also attached importance to invoking the name of Buddha and reading sutras. Thus Chinul combined the appealing directness of Son and the concrete gradualism of the Textual School, while the emphasis on continuous discipline lent itself to incorporation into a military ethos. The Chogye sect won substantial support from the military rulers and proceeded to develop in mountain monasteries throughout Korea as a distinct and indigenous stream of Buddhist faith and practice."

Temple Arts


The credit for resurrecting and further developing the Korean Buddhist sword tradition rests in one man, the martial arts Zen master Chang Sik Kim. Zen Master Kim founded the Shim Gum Do (Mind Sword Path) school in 1971 and is credited with having personally developed the Shim Gum Do Zen Sword system. This system was the result of "sword enlightenment," a flash of Zen inspiration that led to a fundamental understanding of the sword arts and how the energy of the sword works in harmony with other martial arts.

Master Kim is the student of Zen Master Seung Sahn Lee, the 78th patriarch of the Chogye Order of Soen Buddhism. Master Kim first met Seung Sahn as a young boy in Seoul. The Zen Master gave him the following kong-an:

"A Sword-Master was watching the moon's reflection in a pool of water. Withdrawing his sword he sliced the reflection and the moon fell into two halves. How is this possible?"

The boy was filled with wonder, and when the Zen Master told him that he could one day become a great sword master if he moved into the temple and trained hard, Chang Sik Kim immediately became a resident of Hwa Gye Sa.


Years later, in 1969, during a 100-day meditation retreat in a small hut on Sam Gak mountain near Seoul, Master Kim attained an understanding of the patterns or forms of Zen Sword. Following that inspiration, Master Kim forged a cohesive system of traditional Buddhist temple martial arts, including hundreds of intricate forms for training shin boep, ho shin sul, long stick, one-handed sword, and two-sword.

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