Tuesday 26 March 2024

Kyeongdang Yedo 24 Se part 1; Lifting the cauldron

If you haven't already read my previous posts on the Yedo 24 Se you might want to check them out. I have written about the history of the Yedo system (click here to read more) and I have also provided the historical illustrations and translations of the different forms (click here to read the post). I have since writing that studied more, and I am now very happy to have a rudimentary knowledge of all 24 forms. That means that I can continue this series for a very long while. Again, if you as a reader feel that this blog is starting to contain too much swordstuffythingy please let me know. If enough people say that, I will start a new blog focusing on that aspect. For now suffice to say, kyeongdang is a huge part of "my" taekwondo, but I do understand that might not apply to many. 

Short background

If you do not have the time to read the historical background of the system here are a few bullet points:

  • First documented by Mo Won-ui (Mao Yan-yi in Chinese) in 1621
  • It was originally documented as Chosun Sebup meaning Korean Sword Technique
  • Said to be an ancient system already back in 1621
  • Appears in a Korean millitary manual for the first time in 1759 (Muye Shinbo)
  • Consists of 24 "postures" (Se), but they are short forms consisting of 3-7 moves.
  • Kyeongdang version is Grandmaster Lim Dong Gyu's interpretation of the Yedo chapter from Muyedobotongji (published in 1799).
What follows will be a closer look at the first of these 24 "postures". I will draw from Jack Chen's translation of the sword portion of Wu Bei Zhi called "Ancient Art of Chinese Long Straight Sword", and Sang H. Kim's translation of the "Muye dobo tongji, The Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts of Ancient Korea." I will also provide video and description of how I have been taught to do it, and perhaps look at different versions where I have been taught differently at different times or by different instructors, or have seen other groups do the same form. I will try to provide some thought on usage as well. 

1st posture as documented in the Wu Bei Zhi (translated by Jack Chen)

Raise-Cauldron Stance

"(1st line) The Raise-Cauldron Stance is the "Raise-Top Block".
(2nd line) This technique can block an attack from the top.
(3rd line) Left-Leg Right-Hand: "Flat-Platform Stance"
(4th line) Make a fast mid-region attack forward
(5th line) Retreat step and "Swipe skirt"
(6th line) Watch technique"

1st posture as documented in the Muyedobotongji (translated by Sang H. Kim)

"The Keojungse is the Kettle Lifting Posture. This posture is used to kill upward by striking forward, with the left leg and the right hand held parallel, cutting through the center."

 How is this thing done?

In modern Kyeongdang we typically practise the Yedo24Se as short forms, consisting of 3-5 movements each. The original system however seems to have been a single technique, with provided follow up options from the first technique. The first movment and the follow ups provided in the text is what we today practise as the mini form, with the caveat that this blue belt understands this correctly. If I am correct the first thing you do is draw the sword, 

1.1: step forward with the left leg and lift the sword so it is at the height and to the side of your left ear, tip pointing backwards. This is similar to the illustration provided in the Muyedobotongji. The process of getting into the "starting position" can itself be a usable technique in and of itself, just as a chamber for what is thought of as a taekwondo "block" can be used in and of itself. 

1.2: From the starting position you cut diagonally downwards from your own left side toward your right side, while sliding diagonally forwards to your left. In the original system I guess getting into the starting postion and into this cut is the Keojungse, the rest is possible follow ups from the text, while in modern Kyeongdang the whole sequence is thought of as the Keojungse.

2: From the ending of the first cut, slide forwards again keeping the left leg in front and perform a waist cut from the right side toward the left side.

3: From the completed waist cut, step back with your left leg and do a downward center cut (this is what I think is "Swipe skirt" technique described in Jack Chen's translation. 

The original way I was taught had us stepping forward on the last technique as well, other than that it is identical. In application it depends on distance and usage. 


The video is an old one, and I am a mere coloured belt so it is far from perfect, but I hope you get the idea :-)


The usage I was originally taught was one offensive and one defensive one:

1: Offensive

From the starting position (which is simply a starting position) you cut your opponent from the side of the neck diagonally downwards toward the hip on the other side, then cut the opponents belly with a horizontal cut, and then to top it all off you cut the opponent vertically from top to bottom. It is simply all movements as cuts against no resistance.

2: Defensive:

As the opponent does a vertical cut from top to bottom toward your center line, you shift outside the attack, use the first "cut" to move his sword down and out of the way, the second cut (horizontal belly/waist cut) cuts the abdomen and then depending on what the opponent did you wither cut him vertically top to bottom or deal with his counter attack by striking his sword down with your last technique. 

Additional thoughts on application:

According to the text itself this technique belongs to the "block" category (Yedo 8 is also in this category). Personally this makes me lean toward the defensive application I learned (which can be tweaked to be used against stabs or other attacks as well as the center line vertical cut). I also like the idea of using the opening stance itself as a defense against an attack, but I was never taught this myself, it is just me "musing". If you have a standard sword guard where the tip is toward the opponents throat, moving into the opening stance could itself be a flicking away of an incomming attack, which again makes sense when looking at the name (kettle lifting, rise the cauldron etc depending on translation) as well as the original text saying this is a part of the blocing techniques in the system. Another way of using the opening movement is as a pure "block" against an oncomming vertical strike but then you would have to change the opening movement to holding it over your head at an angle. I have seen this kind of interpretation online as well, but I stick to the kyeongdang system I am being taught.


The illustration, and the text are vague, and the interpretations on how to perform and use them are therefore up to the interpreter. In my case, being a student of Muye 24 Ban Kyeongdang system, I get to follow the interpretations pioneered by GM Lim Dong Gyu who studied the Muyedobotongji. I therefore am grateful to simply practise the system given, but I do enjoy looking into it, as well as watching what other people come up with. When looking at this first posture in isolation you do get a glimpse on how versitile the whole system is, as each "mini form" can be used and tweaked in a large number of ways. Anyway I hope you enjoyed this look at the Yedo24Se first posture as not much exist on these online. Just remember the whole thing is written by and in the perspective of a lowly coloured belt and in no way shape or form an expert. 

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