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Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
Boggle gives you 3 minutes to find as many words (3 letters or more) as you can in a grid of 16 letters. You can also try the grid of 16 letters. Letters must be adjacent and longer words score better. See if you can get into the grid Hall of Fame !
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Korean swords are hard to define; influences from various countries have made Korean swords vary in size, shape, and structure. Korean swords are hard to categorize since they don't come in a uniform shape like Japanese swords nor do they come in any singular style. Koreans have used bladed weapons since prehistoric times and have manufactured these weapons since then. Currently, there are a handful of artisans that are trying to bring back the old manufacturing processes of the Joseon era. Although many manufacturers may claim to be completely "authentic" one must be careful when purchasing a Korean sword. Some who are unable to distinguish the difference between a Korean style sword and a Japanese or Chinese sword may claim that their swords are indeed "Korean" when in fact they are not. This article will break down the specific demographics and history of Korean swords so one may be able to understand the key elements of a Korean manufactured sword.
Stone swords from prehistoric times begin the history of Korean blade manufacturing. Prehistoric finds offer suggestions that Korean sword manufacturing may go back as far as 3000 years. These finds span:
Long swords were used by commanders and cavalry. At this time land warfare consisted mostly of spearmen and bowmen on foot, mounted archers on horseback using two-handed bows, and mounted swordsmen with twin blades. Swords were used for shock attacks, defensive strokes, and for close-in fighting. Blades were heavy as they were made mostly of iron, and pommels were often knobbed and used as balances or for very close-in work. Short swords may have been used in follow-up attacks, as short sword carriers were armoured completely.
Goryeo period exported certain amounts of swords in trade missions in Asia.
Despite founding and continued by a family of generals, the Yi bloodline, the Korean Confucian culture of this period placed more emphasis on intellectual and practical achievements in the sciences and arts and agriculture rather than on martial practices.
While the Joseon Kingdom was begun and continued by generals, civil virtues were held in higher regard than military ethics. Still, the Joseon government continued to develop and improve military technology, especially that on cannons and swords. An eclectic variety of swords were systematically produced by skilled blacksmiths, although this was set back by the great spans of peace that Korea enjoyed.
During the Joseon dynasty's great age of peace, swords were still in production, both for military and ceremonial use. Several types of ceremonial swords were made, among these sword types including the jingeom (dragon sword) and ingeom (tiger sword), which by tradition could be forged only at certain times. The highest grade of these, sa-ingeom (four tigers sword) and possibly sa-jingeom (four dragons sword, none extant) were reserved for the monarch and could only be made during a window of 2 hours every 12 years. The lower-grade swords - i-jingeom, sam-jingeom, i-ingeom, sam-ingeom (two dragons, three dragons, two tigers, three tigers) - could be made more frequently.
The swords that Joseon soldiers used were crafted with the greatest care, with only high quality steel considered for the use of military swords. Some of the swords that were used uniformly by these soldiers include the hwandudaedo, jedok geom, and bonguk geom. The three types of blades listed here are single edged and usually between 3-4 feet long, although the jedok geom could reach a length of 6 feet.
Korean swords are very scarce, since most surviving examples were confiscated and destroyed during the colonial period. A systematic attempt was made to collect and destroy all Korean swords, coats of armour, and all Korean martial arts equipment. The entire history of Korean swords and armour was almost lost forever, along with much of Korea's culture and traditions.
After the liberation of Korea in 1945, ceremonial swords once again began to be made both in the south, and the north, and by the 1960s, sword-making had begun again, but with many traditions and techniques lost. The reconstruction of swordmaking began in the 1950s, and has only by the mid-1990s come back to expert levels comparable to the times before the colonial period.
Sword ownership in Korea is restricted, and there are very few traditional sword collectors today. General/Flag-grade officers are given dress swords upon assuming command in the Republic of Korea (ROK) army. Despite restrictions on sword ownership and a lingering social preference against armed martial arts (dating to the Joseon era), practical sword fighting is enjoying a small revival amongst elite regiments, and fencing is once again attracting interest in Korean universities. Korea fields an Olympic fencing team.
Traditionally there are about fifteen types of Korean swords with some better known than others.
Elements of the Korean sword include: geomjip or scabbard, most often of lacquer; hyuljo or fuller (most genuine Korean swords didn't have a fuller); hwando magi or collar; ho in or collar; kodeungi or hand guard; a ring-design pommel; tassels; a round and wide designed sword guard, or a straight lotus design.
As well there are practice wooden swords (mokgeom), metal swords (shingeom) and practical swords (Jingeom); the list would include:
The In Geom (Tiger Swords) were usually of the same designs but of different strengths. They were all made according to the Year, Month, Week, Day, or Hour of the Tiger.
There are a couple of schools that claim that they still hold the techniques of these swords practitioners in the past. Kuksoolwon and Haidong Gumdo claims that the hold the genuine Swords techniques that are written in the Muye Dobo Tongji (The Manual Of Korean Martial arts). It is said that there were 24 fighting postures in training; The Korean practitioners of the past generally used low kicking techniques to distract, dismantle and disable the opponent when holding the sword in one hand and sheath in the other. The kicking techniques were generally from Taekkyeon or Subak.
Most traditional and "true" Korean Swordsmanship schools would use the terms "mu sul" meaning technique or "beop" meaning the way; Hence, the term "geombeop" meaning Sword way or 'how to use the sword' in literal translations, or Geomsul meaning 'Sword technique'. Most Korean martial arts that use the word "Do" or "The Way" are just modernistic schools that rarely have any ties to the past. Many schools existed, however the leading document that the past has given us is Mu Ye dobo Tongji or "Illustrated Comprehensive Martial Arts Manual" of Master Lee Dok Mu, as ordered by King Jeong-jo published in 1795. The book is basically an overall book of the many techniques that were being used at the time.
Most Korean armour was based with leather, cloth, and iron. The generals and other high-ranking officials of the Korean kingdoms generally wore plate-mail along with a helmet with a red tassle on the top and there were leather flaps on the sides and back of the helmet that were covered in plate-mail. The armor was usually black, and for the royal courts: gold. There are no real documented gauntlets. The shoulders were covered in plate-mail and there was a large metal breast plate that was covered in smoky designs. In the interior, they usually wore cloth, and for the rest of the uncovered body, they generally wore leather.
The sword was generally held in the hand. There was no real reason to hold it on their sides. However, they did strap it to their back at times when they were riding horses or using other weapons such as spears and bows. The Korean sword was first and foremost one-handed, though for more powerful strikes, two hands were used. The Korean techniques were generally hand and a half.
Korean historical action films have elements of swordsmanship within them. Important recent films readily available (and subtitle in Chinese/English) include:
A Korean production that is a variant of Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War. This is set in the Three Kingdoms of Korea period where there were various uprisings in the military and many assassination attempts on the King.
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