Sonmudo: body and mind in harmony

- through Sophie Solere

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In the world of martial arts, there is one which, little by little, is making a name for itself: sonmudo. Coming from South Korea, he offers a global approach to the practice that includes sitting meditation, yoga or Qi gong-type exercises and dynamic “combat” training. With a more gentle and peaceful approach than judo, karate and other martial arts, sonmudo attracts more and more people seduced by the well-being that results from its practice.

"Everything that is rare is unique", says the adage, we could add "and is deserved"! My curiosity aroused following the article devoted to this "very cool martial art", I made an appointment with Frédéric Foubert, his main instructor in France, to find out more closely what this discipline may well be. of the "Land of the Morning Calm". So here I am on a Sunday morning in November near a gymnasium located in the suburbs of Paris, not far from Orly airport. The wink that I see in it to the famous "flying monks" at the origin of this practice makes me smile...

Entering the exercise room, instead of the fighters engaged in fierce jousts that I expect to find, I see a dozen people - the majority of them women - studious, immersed in the study of the symbols present on the Korean national flag: earth, sky, fire and water. Each element has its counterpart: air and earth, fire and water, yin and yang. First approach to universal harmony. This will be the red thread of the day.

A zen martial art

New to this discipline, I am surprised by everything I discover. The practice is more like a dynamic yoga than a martial art or even a combat sport, like what judo or taekwondo can be. Moreover, although meditation is present in the practice, the teaching has been developed for the attention of lay people, the religious dimension has therefore been extracted from it. Today, sonmudo is therefore a training method that aims to harmonize mind, body and breath, using dynamic and powerful movements inspired by martial arts, but used in a totally peaceful practice.

The theoretical part finished, the future instructors in training now give me an overview of these famous combat techniques. I immediately find positions similar to other martial arts. But everything is slower, each gesture seeming to be done in full consciousness. This does not prevent the sweat from flowing... If sonmudo is not as dynamic as karate for example, anyone who has already tried to do a kata (a codified sequence of techniques) in a slow mode knows that this is a very demanding and particularly trying exercise. The people present are very mobilized and although the postures are sometimes hesitant, we feel that they give the best of themselves to practice this “Zen martial art”. After chatting with them, I discovered that some had first practiced other martial arts, in particular taekwondo, a Korean filiation obliges... This is the case of Christelle for whom it remains a bad memory after "having received bad blows while training with a boy younger than her. Étienne, meanwhile, "no longer found himself in the practice of taekwondo" when he was a 2nd Dan black belt. And others, like Vanni, who described himself as a "hyper-active salesman" at the time, had reached such a point of tension in his body on a daily basis that he "had to turn his whole torso to be able to turn the head..." Everyone insists on the fact that the regular practice of sonmudo allowed them to relax, to find themselves, even to find themselves quite simply, like Sylvie who remembers that she was before "of a pathological timidity”. The well-being felt seems almost addictive, because her neighbor (who has the same first name) did not hesitate to come by car from Auvergne to train and be able to open a club in her adopted land. .

The sonmudo, or flexibility of body and mind

Frédéric Foubert deciphers these experiences by emphasizing how “regular practice energizes the circulation of vital energy (ki)”, and in doing so, “revitalizes the organs and strengthens the immune, articular and circulatory systems. If practitioners are so fulfilled, it is because sonmudo "promotes flexibility of body and mind, grounding and inner peace". Who wouldn't be tempted to try this route?

Sonmudo is a training method that aims to harmonize mind, body and breath, using dynamic and powerful movements inspired by martial arts, AND used in a completely peaceful practice.

In the afternoon, a few curious and beginners join the future teachers. Grimaces appear here and there on the faces of those who try the yoga postures, some of them particularly acrobatic for the neophyte that I am! The atmosphere is concentrated, serene and silent. Where usually, in a martial arts seminar, it is cries that are let loose in the assaults, here the only noises that are heard are those of joints creaking, like kindling crackling in the fire. a fireplace… Singular, we tell you.

It is on this silence – interior and exterior – that I slip away, not without rethinking what the Zen master Taisen Deshimaru said: “ From the silence rises the immortal spirit ". Between noises and interior silences, between movements and non-movements zen, there is indeed a way to a certain harmony. Can you walk this path?

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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