Some thoughts on training with foam (sponge) swords

We, in Haedong Kumdo, incorporate various sword types into our training, including sharpened swords, aluminum swords, wooden swords, bamboo swords, and foam (sponge) swords.

Each type has its own unique specialty and characteristics for training. Today, I would like to share some thoughts on training with foam swords.

Many HK dojangs use foam swords for sparring or training with children or the elderly due to safety concerns. We need to emphasize that a foam sword is just a foam sword, and training with it is entirely different from training with a wooden or real sword.
When using it for sparring, it’s important to understand its specific characteristics, and also note that since it is not an actual sword, using it like a wooden or real sword is not practical for winning a fight.

Therefore, it is essential to understand the specific aspects of using foam swords for sparring.

Firstly, it is much lighter than other sword types.

Secondly, it is more flexible.

Thirdly, it is used for hitting rather than cutting,
and fourthly, it relies on speed rather than power.

With that in mind, here are some tips for training with foam swords, which was taught through 2023 Dutch Workshop in the Netherlands:

■ When grabbing the foam sword, it is essential to be flexible and adjust the handle length accordingly.

■ Do not grip it too tightly like you would with a Jinkum sword. It’s not the same as holding a Jin Kum sword. Unlike Mokkum or Jinkum swords, foam swords are used for hitting and not cutting.

■ Many Dojangs worldwide make the mistake of using foam swords like the aforementioned swords. While this may be okay for children’s recreational activities, it is not suitable for serious training.

■ Hitting with a foam sword mainly requires quick footwork and agility. To be effective with a foam sword,  make sure to stamp your foot and move quickly.

■ When practicing sparring techniques, it is important to make a circle with each hit, which is the fundamental motion used in foam sword training.

Remember, each sword type has its own unique characteristics, and understanding these differences is crucial to mastering the art of sword fighting.

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