Yuk Ro Sam Dan, most commonly referred to as Po Wol, is the third hyung in the Yuk Ro (pronounced Yoong-no) series created by Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee. These forms were inspired by Kwan Jang Nim’s study of the ancient Korean martial arts text Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji (武藝圖譜通志), written by Park Je Ga and Lee Duk Mu during the reign of King Jong Jo 300 years ago.
To understand the characteristics of Po Wol, and the Yuk Ro Hyungs in general, it is important to understand the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji (MYDBTJ) and the personal martial arts history of the form’s creator, Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee. We begin with an examination of the writings in the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji:
“There is what is known as Yun Soo in the training methods, consisting of thirty five training methods and eighteen types of footwork. They were classified into six paths (Yuk Ro) and Ten level exercises (Ship Dan Khum). The six paths include: Woo Shin Tong Bu Choi Wee Go, Doo Mun Shim Shwe Jun Yung Ho, Seo nin Ip Ki Jo chunse, San chul Pyowol Bulsangyo, Yang pyun Joawoo Innankup, and Sal chu chingro Yang shiyo”
The Yuk Ro (six paths) are what inspired the Yuk Ro Hyung series. The fourth path, San Chul Pyowol Bulsangyo (撒出抱月不相饒), can be translated as “remove, exit and embrace the moon, we mutually keep each other at bay.” This is the path that influenced the creation of Po Wol Hyung. Po Wol (抱月) signifies “embrace the moon.”
Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee was an extremely creative and brilliant man, who had a firm understanding of the martial arts and of Ship Sam Seh philosophy that helped in the formation of the Yuk Ro Hyung. After translating the MYDBTJ, he used his knowledge of the martial arts to create a set of forms that could preserve what was left of the Yuk Ro. He used what information was available about the Yuk Ro and incorporated it in the forms. To piece it all together, he used the knowledge he had gained from other sources, including Dham Doi Ship E Ro, whose influence can be seen in the Yuk Ro series, including Po Wol. An example would be the Jang Kap Kwon and Jang Kwon Do techniques.
The signature technique of Po Wol is po wol seh, or embrace the moon method. This technique was most likely derived from the MYDBTJ and is the central piece of the hyung. Within this one movement, the energy and spirit of Po Wol Hyung is defined.
The energy, spirit, and intent of this form should be a sense of receiving and embracing energy with a relaxed, fixed center. Just as the moon is representative of um, so too Po Wol Hyung should represent a softer side of training.
Within Po Wol Hyung, the Ship Sam Seh philosophy is very apparent. Earlier, there was mention of how wol, or moon, is symbolic of um energy. The earth also symbolizes an um energy, which is a component of the O Heng (5 elements). The O Heng is broken down into two sections: External Steps and Internal Strategies. The step for earth is jung (土) which means to stay centered. We can apply this principle by applying a solid stance and working on being still. The internal strategy for earth is Boo Joo Hang (不丟頂), which translates to non-opposing force. By not opposing the force of an opponent, control can be obtained. Boo Joo Hang and Jung make up the central characteristic of po wol seh. In performing the technique, we receive an attack by maintaining a centered stance and embracing the energy without opposition.
By concentrating on po wol seh, the feeling of jung and boo joo hang is carried throughout the form with relaxed, embracing energy. This is the way to reach a greater understanding of some of the Ship Sam Seh principles Kwan Jang Nim embraced.