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Title [Asia] Subak

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  • Date
    25-08-2021
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NameSubak
Alternative NamesSoobak, Soobahk
OriginKorea
Main TechniquesMixed (Grappling, striking)
Weapons (if weapon-based)N/A
Purpose of PracticeWarrior Arts
Type of OriginationRecovered
Degree of Sportification
 Yes (Year: )      No
General InformationSubak, meaning “clap” in Korean, is a traditional Korean martial art that mainly uses empty-hand techniques. It is a form of 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 the competitors fighting bare-chested, striking themselves with hands and walking crabwise. The moves are simple but require continued practice to learn. Subak predominantly uses the upper body to fight.
History/Development

The earliest roots of subak are complicated to track, but it is often speculated that it might have been transmitted from ancient times considering depictions in the murals of Koguryo era in the fourth century. Historical records suggest 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). Several sources note that the kings enjoyed spectating at subak matches among warriors, and the winners were awarded government positions (Academy of Korean Studies 1995). Subak sparring also took place during 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 eighteenth century (Academy of Korean Studies 1995). The manual was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Regional Register for Asia-Pacific in 2017.

Transmission
(Policies/institutions)
The 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 by the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee and the Korea Sports Promotion Organisation. As of 2019, there are twelve 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).