|General Information||Subak meaning “clap” in Korean is a traditional Korean martial art that mainly uses bare hand techniques. Subak is a form of an expression that has been transmitted as an indigenous art and body culture. Unlike other combat martial arts, subak is characterised by its “primitive” elements such as being bare chested, striking themselves with hands, and walking crabwise. The moves are simple but require continued practice to learn. Subak predominantly uses upper body to fight.|
According to Korea Subak Association and other sources, it is speculated based on mural paintings of Goguryeo that subak might have been practised since ancient Korea. Written accounts portray that subak was considered a very important martial art that warriors had to learn and practise during the late Koryo Dynasty (Academy of Korean Studies 1995). There are several sources that the kings enjoyed spectating the warrior’s subak matches and the winners were awarded government positions (Academy of Korean Studies 1995). Subak sparring also took place during the military occasions and important events in the Joseon dynasty, and was also practised by the general public as a folk game (Academy of Korean Studies 1995).
Records about the techniques of subak appear in Mu Ye Dobo Tong Ji, a comprehensive martial arts book that explains, with respective illustrations, the Korean traditional martial arts created in the 18th century (Academy of Korean Studies 1995). The Manual was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Regional Register for Asia-Pacific in 2017.
|Korea Subak Association was founded in 2001 by Song, Chang-ryeol. Subak has been recognised as a “transmitted/recovered” or “unarmed” martial art by different publications of Korean Olympic Committee and Korea Sports Promotion Organisation. As of 2019, there are 12 training centres in Korea.|
|Relevant Organisations||Korea Subak Association|
|Additional Materials||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZWXqYyBOpY |
|References||- Academy of Korean Studies. (1995). “Subak.” Encyclopedia of Korean Culture. Available at http://encykorea.aks.ac.kr/Contents/Item/E0031390# (Accessed March 8, 2021). |