Masangjae

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Arts > Folk Games

Writer JungHyungho(鄭亨鎬)

A series of acrobatic movements performed on running horses, including standing upright, headstands, hanging on the side, and moving from one side to another.

Masangjae refers to a series of acrobatic movements performed on running horses, while along with Gyeokgu (Korean polo), Masangjae is generally considered a kind of equestrian martial arts. Despite an unknown time of origin, it is assumed that Masangjae has a considerably long history given the fact that horses were already used in Korea during the Bronze Age. In particular, Goguryeo was a kingdom known for great horsemanship and equestrian martial arts, which were influenced by other countries throughout Asia. It is also believed that the country had various forms of Masangjae due to this diversity in influence.

A detailed description of Masangjae can be found in a record on Yi Seonggye, King Taejo of the Joseon Period. He was particularly skilled at mounted archery, as well as Masangjae. According to a documentation written in 1362 during the late Goryeo Period, Yi Seong-gye avoided an enemy general’s spear using the mom sumgigi (hiding) movement of Masangjae during a battle with the army of the Yuan Dynasty. The movement involved hanging upside down on the left side of a running horse by hanging on the back of the right knee on the saddle, grabbing the back of the saddle with the right hand, and dropping the body to the left side. The fact that he used the movement to dodge the enemy’s attack proves that Masangjae was widely used during the Goyreo Period.

During the reign of King Gwanghaegun of the Joseon Period, a competitive contest for horse-riding skills was held in Salgoji, Seoul, where the king partook in the competition. After that, during the reign of King Injo, two skilled mounted martial artists named Jang Hyo-in and Kim Jeong accompanied a mission to Japan and demonstrated Masangjae at the request of the Japanese government. Since then, skilled Masangjae artists had become an important part of the Joseon missions to Japan. According to a record written in the 18th century, Japanese people were deeply impressed by Masangjae, and created their own school of mounted martial arts called Daieihonlyu.

King Hyojong of the Joseon Period tested the usefulness of Masangjae through Gwanmujae (special military service examinations). It seemed the king emphasized the importance of standard martial arts and equestrian martial arts for his plan for expedition to the Manchu Qing Dynasty. In addition, Masangjae was mentioned in a poem by Jung Yak-yong (penname Dasan). He accompanied the king’s Masangjae inspection and transcribed what he saw into a poem. The poem confirms that the practice of Masangjae was prevalent in 18th century Joseon and the king himself reviewed it.

The movements of Masangjae were well described in a book called Muyedobotongji, published during the reign of King Jeongjo of the Joseon Period. The book described various movements of Masangjae primarily using one horse. Specifically, the seven following movements and pictures were described: Jumarimmasang (standing upright), Jwauchoma (moving from one side to another), Masangdorip (headstand), Hoengwamasangyangsa (lying horizontally), Jwaudeungnijangsin (hiding body behind the side of a horse), Jongwachimmami (leaning backward), and Ssangjumarimmasang (standing on two running horses).

In addition, other difficult movements using two horses were created based on the basic movements in the book.

The horses used for Masangjae were tall, colorful, and well-trained, however stallions were preferred to mares. Burumal (white horses), especially, were considered the best for Masangjae, while Garamal (black horses) with white hooves were preferred as well.

Jeollip and Houi (Masangjae uniforms) were the basic outfit for soldiers performing Masangjae. They wore Jeollip on the head, or helms instead. Jeollip was a kind of military hat, also known as Beonggeoji. The clothing for the body was orange Houi and pants.

Masangjae had been passed down continuously through the middle to the end of the Joseon Period, the periods when the importance of using military horses was relatively lessened. However, its systematic practice was discontinued during the late Joseon Period. In the 1990s, Masangjae was restored by Hanminjongmasang Muyegyeokgudan (a group dedicated to restoring Korean polo).

Masangjae

Masangjae
Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Arts > Folk Games

Writer JungHyungho(鄭亨鎬)

A series of acrobatic movements performed on running horses, including standing upright, headstands, hanging on the side, and moving from one side to another.

Masangjae refers to a series of acrobatic movements performed on running horses, while along with Gyeokgu (Korean polo), Masangjae is generally considered a kind of equestrian martial arts. Despite an unknown time of origin, it is assumed that Masangjae has a considerably long history given the fact that horses were already used in Korea during the Bronze Age. In particular, Goguryeo was a kingdom known for great horsemanship and equestrian martial arts, which were influenced by other countries throughout Asia. It is also believed that the country had various forms of Masangjae due to this diversity in influence.

A detailed description of Masangjae can be found in a record on Yi Seonggye, King Taejo of the Joseon Period. He was particularly skilled at mounted archery, as well as Masangjae. According to a documentation written in 1362 during the late Goryeo Period, Yi Seong-gye avoided an enemy general’s spear using the mom sumgigi (hiding) movement of Masangjae during a battle with the army of the Yuan Dynasty. The movement involved hanging upside down on the left side of a running horse by hanging on the back of the right knee on the saddle, grabbing the back of the saddle with the right hand, and dropping the body to the left side. The fact that he used the movement to dodge the enemy’s attack proves that Masangjae was widely used during the Goyreo Period.

During the reign of King Gwanghaegun of the Joseon Period, a competitive contest for horse-riding skills was held in Salgoji, Seoul, where the king partook in the competition. After that, during the reign of King Injo, two skilled mounted martial artists named Jang Hyo-in and Kim Jeong accompanied a mission to Japan and demonstrated Masangjae at the request of the Japanese government. Since then, skilled Masangjae artists had become an important part of the Joseon missions to Japan. According to a record written in the 18th century, Japanese people were deeply impressed by Masangjae, and created their own school of mounted martial arts called Daieihonlyu.

King Hyojong of the Joseon Period tested the usefulness of Masangjae through Gwanmujae (special military service examinations). It seemed the king emphasized the importance of standard martial arts and equestrian martial arts for his plan for expedition to the Manchu Qing Dynasty. In addition, Masangjae was mentioned in a poem by Jung Yak-yong (penname Dasan). He accompanied the king’s Masangjae inspection and transcribed what he saw into a poem. The poem confirms that the practice of Masangjae was prevalent in 18th century Joseon and the king himself reviewed it.

The movements of Masangjae were well described in a book called Muyedobotongji, published during the reign of King Jeongjo of the Joseon Period. The book described various movements of Masangjae primarily using one horse. Specifically, the seven following movements and pictures were described: Jumarimmasang (standing upright), Jwauchoma (moving from one side to another), Masangdorip (headstand), Hoengwamasangyangsa (lying horizontally), Jwaudeungnijangsin (hiding body behind the side of a horse), Jongwachimmami (leaning backward), and Ssangjumarimmasang (standing on two running horses).

In addition, other difficult movements using two horses were created based on the basic movements in the book.

The horses used for Masangjae were tall, colorful, and well-trained, however stallions were preferred to mares. Burumal (white horses), especially, were considered the best for Masangjae, while Garamal (black horses) with white hooves were preferred as well.

Jeollip and Houi (Masangjae uniforms) were the basic outfit for soldiers performing Masangjae. They wore Jeollip on the head, or helms instead. Jeollip was a kind of military hat, also known as Beonggeoji. The clothing for the body was orange Houi and pants.

Masangjae had been passed down continuously through the middle to the end of the Joseon Period, the periods when the importance of using military horses was relatively lessened. However, its systematic practice was discontinued during the late Joseon Period. In the 1990s, Masangjae was restored by Hanminjongmasang Muyegyeokgudan (a group dedicated to restoring Korean polo).