Frédéric Foubert: Sonmudo, an unknown martial art

- through Sophie Solere

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Among the martial arts, everyone has heard of judo, karate, aikido, but who knows sonmudo, this martial art transmitted by the monks of South Korea? Buddhist News took advantage of a course organized in the Paris region to meet Frédéric Foubert, who is working to develop this tradition in France from the “Land of the Morning Calm”.

What does this term "sonmudo" mean?

The literal translation would be “Zen martial art”. The word sonmudo is composed of “son” which means “zen” in Korean, “mu” which means “warrior” and “do”, the “way”. Associated, "Mu" and "do" become the famous Japanese "budo": the martial art. The general meaning is that one cannot practice a martial art without having peace of mind.

Hence the practice of meditation which is associated with defense movements?

In effect. This global art has its roots in the XNUMXth century and includes meditation, qi gong, and martial arts proper. Its practice allows you to work, anticipate, explore daily conditions and postures on the tatami: sitting, lying down, standing, moving, moving... The benefits are a better circulation of energy in practice. and in everyday life. What helps ultimately approach situations with more strength and calm.

We live in a society where everything is accelerating. The pressure there is permanent and the virtual seems to have taken precedence over the human. More and more people feel the need to find themselves, to refocus. The enthusiasm in recent years for yoga and meditation only reinforces the interest of more and more people in sonmudo in France.

What are its specificities?

One of them lies in the fact that it is not the person who adapts to this art, but the opposite. We now know that a negative mind and state of mind will have repercussions in the rest of the body. Be careful, this is not psychoanalysis! This practice allows you to gradually let go of the pressures accumulated during your life.

What is the profile of the person who comes knocking at the door of the sonmudo and why does he come?

It evolves. Before, it was more of an active public of forty to forty-five years. Today, all ages are represented, from the youngest to retired people. The latter – generally in their sixties – are very dynamic and have the will to take care of themselves. For the youngest, I have the impression that they choose to turn to this practice to take care of them. Women represent 60 to 70% of the public. Moreover, it is often thanks to them – and what they can share with their networks – that men come to discover this practice.

“In other martial arts, we are taught to do, whereas in sonmudo, we are taught to be. »

Sonmudo gives answers to questions that we are led to ask ourselves in external practices such as taekwondo, karate, etc., in particular by explaining how we place such a movement and how energy circulates. In other martial arts, we are taught to do, whereas in sonmudo, we are taught to be. The approach is completely different.

Sonmudo is originally a Buddhist practice, what remains of it?

Appearing in Korea at the time of our Middle Ages, this art indeed has a Buddhist origin and was developed by a caste of warrior monks, whose heirs perpetuate the tradition today. The idea in France is to keep the philosophy – Buddhist therefore – to come back to oneself in order to be able to open up to the world, in a teaching that is, for its part, secular.

It is not necessary to convert to come and practice sonmudo (Laughs). In France, our fellow citizens have all types of religious practices, or not elsewhere, which are their own and do not concern us. What we propose is to enrich it with our philosophy of life open to the world.

Finally, is the practice of sonmudo a sporting, spiritual approach, a combination of the two?

The answer is in the question (Laughs). The universe is a whole of which we are part, yang contains yin, and vice versa; man receives the energies of the earth like those of the sky, he is in a globality including his innate and acquired energies. On this basis, sonmudo is a synthesis of all that: "zen", "qigong", "martial". Sonmudo is life. The martial side is movement; Zen is non-movement; the synthesis of the two is yin and yang: movement in non-movement, and vice versa, in interdependence.

photo of author

Sophie Solere

Sophie Solère is an economic and social journalist who has been interested for years in the environment and interdependence. She works for Buddhist News, a media platform dedicated to Buddhist spirituality and wisdom. By practicing yoga and meditative dance, Sophie discovered the power of spiritual journeys, which offer so many paths to (re)find yourself. She is dedicated to sharing inspiring stories and valuable advice on spiritual practice and the environment with Buddhist News readers.

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