Blue Mountains sword fighters to battle world's best

A group of Blue Mountains residents will test their sword fighting skills against the world's best in South Korea this week.

Five students and two sword masters from the Wolves Martial Art School at Wentworth Falls will compete in the World Mulimpia Haidong Gumdo Martial Arts Championships from July 12-14. They will be joined by Australian representatives from Queensland and the ACT.

The Korean martial art translates to "the way of the enlightened sword", and dates back to AD331. It is practised in more than 50 countries.

The Blue Mountains sword team have been training hard to compete in several events in South Korea, including individual patterns and sword dance, individual and team paper cutting, and bamboo cutting.

"Bamboo only cuts paper if done very quickly, and it sounds a bit macabre, but it mimics how you cut skin," said Mel Lewis, assistant instructor at Wolves Martial Arts. "At the wrong angle it tears the paper, not cuts it."

In the sword dance, a wooden sword is used until a black belt grading is achieved, and then athletes upgrade to a sharp, cutting sword.

Inspired by a love of samurai and martial arts movies, Lewis took up Haidong Gumdo three years ago.

"It's a safe martial art to practice as an adult," she said.

"The spirit and philosophy is very timeless and beautiful and instills respect and respect for our teachers.

"I'm calmer and a lot more confident and a lot more centred," she said.

About 500 competitors will attend the championships from 15 countries.

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