Ssireum competition

Ssireium: Why is Everyone Talking About This Korean Martial Art?

Get ready to learn about the traditional Korean martial art of wrestling – Ssireum! It has a fascinating history that dates back to the Three Kingdoms period. Originally designed to train warriors in physical strength and endurance, Ssireum has evolved into a popular national sport and pastime for Koreans of all ages.

One of the most exciting aspects of Ssireum is its unique wrestling style that challenges practitioners’ strength and agility. 

It’s no wonder that Ssireum is often used as a complementary training method for other martial arts and combat sports. The techniques and training methods of Ssireum have been adapted for military and law enforcement training, showing its continued importance and influence on modern martial arts.

Ssireum, known as Korean wrestling, has been practiced in Korea for over a thousand years. It originated as a form of combat training for soldiers during the Three Kingdoms period (57 BC-668 AD). 

It was used in military training until the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Over time, the Korean martial art evolved into a popular sport enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.


The Evolution of Ssireum

During the Joseon Dynasty, Ssireum became a popular form of entertainment for the public. It was used to celebrate the harvest and was often performed during festivals and fairs. 

In the 20th century, Ssireum began to take on a more formal structure, with the first national championship being held in 1912.

Since then, Ssireum has continued to evolve as a competitive sport. In 1973, the Korean Ssireum Association was formed to oversee the sport and organize competitions. It is a national sport in Korea, with professional leagues and national championships held annually.

Spread Throughout Korea

Ssireum has become an essential part of Korean culture, with competitions and exhibitions nationwide. It is also gaining popularity in other parts of the world, with international matches in countries such as Japan, Mongolia, and Russia.

In recent years, the Korean martial art has also gained attention in the West, with exhibitions and demonstrations in countries such as the United States and Canada. 

As Ssireum continues to gain recognition as a unique and challenging combat sport, its popularity is expected to grow both in Korea and worldwide.

Ssireum, the traditional Korean combat sport, is known for its emphasis on strength and agility. In this section, we will take a closer look at the techniques and rules.

Ssireum Techniques and Rules

Ssireum consists of grappling styles designed to throw an opponent off balance and ultimately bring them to the ground. These techniques involve gripping an opponent’s belt, pants, or any other part of their clothing and using leverage and force to lift and throw them. 

Ssireum techniques are often compared to those used in sumo wrestling, although some notable differences exist.

Two competitors face off in a circular ring called a “jjangjangi.” The goal is to force the opponent out of the ring or bring them to the ground, and points are awarded for successful throws or forcing an opponent out of bounds. Matches are typically divided into rounds, with the winner determined by the total number of points scored.

Ssireum Training

Training involves strength training, cardio workouts, and skill drills. It is a physically demanding sport that requires wrestlers to have strong muscles, quick reflexes, and a high level of endurance. 

Mental toughness is also essential; athletes must stay focused and maintain composure throughout the match.

Strength and Agility

Strength and agility are crucial for success. Wrestlers must be able to execute powerful throws and trips while quickly dodging their opponent’s attacks. 

Wrestlers perform squats, deadlifts, and bench presses to improve strength. Agility drills such as a ladder, cone, and footwork enhance a wrestler’s speed and quickness.

Ssireum competition
Credit: Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Republic of Korea

Ssireum Competitions

Ssireum competitions are usually divided into weight classes, and matches are held in a circular ring called the Ssireum-jang. The sport’s objective is to throw the opponent to the ground or force them out of the ring. 

Matches typically last for three rounds, with each game lasting three minutes.

Ssireum is a significant cultural event in Korea. Several major competitions occur throughout the year. One such event is the Ssireum Championship, held annually and considered the most prestigious competition in Korea. The competition brings together the country’s top wrestlers and the winner is crowned the national champion.

Several international competitions, such as the World Ssireum Championship, are held biennially and attract participants from various countries worldwide.

What does the Future Hold?

Despite the challenges of modern times, Ssireum has continued to attract new practitioners and fans. The Korean government has been actively promoting it as a sport for international competition. 

It has even been introduced as a demonstration sport in the Asian Games. With its rich history and continued relevance, Ssireum is poised to remain a significant part of Korean culture for many years.


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leoSsireum is a traditional Korean combat sport that has been enjoyed by generations of Koreans for centuries. 

It has evolved from its early origins as a means of testing strength and courage to become a popular and widely recognized sport that requires a unique blend of strength, agility, and technique.

Through its history and evolution, the Korean martial art has become an integral part of Korean culture, showcasing its practitioners’ physical and mental strength. Its popularity has spread beyond Korea, with international competitions and events drawing athletes and spectators worldwide.

As Ssireum continues to grow and evolve, it will undoubtedly continue to influence and shape the modern martial arts landscape. With its unique techniques, rules, and training methods, Ssireum remains a distinct and valuable addition to combat sports.

Whether you are a martial arts enthusiast or simply interested in learning more about Korean culture, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the country’s rich history and traditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Ssireum? 

A: Ssireum is a traditional Korean martial art that involves wrestling and grappling techniques. It is also a popular combat sport in Korea.

Q: How is Ssireum different from other martial arts? 

A: It is unique in emphasizing strength and agility to overcome opponents rather than striking techniques. It is also one of the few martial arts that involves a direct physical confrontation with an opponent.

Q: Can anyone practice Ssireum? 

A: Yes, anyone can practice regardless of age or gender. However, it is a physically demanding martial art that requires strength and agility, so it may not suit individuals with certain medical conditions.

Q: What are the benefits of practicing Ssireum? 

A: This Korean martial art can improve physical fitness, increase strength and agility, and enhance overall body control. It can also promote mental toughness and improve self-confidence.

Q: Is Ssireum a safe sport? 

A: While there is always a risk of injury in any martial art or combat sport, Ssireum is generally considered a safe sport with proper training and precautions. However, practicing with a trained instructor and wearing appropriate protective gear is essential.

Q: Can Ssireum be used for self-defense? 

A: Yes, the techniques learned in Ssireum can be applied in real-world self-defense situations. However, it is essential to note that it is primarily a sport and should not be relied upon as the sole means of self-defense.

Q: Is Ssireum famous outside of Korea? 

A: While it is primarily a Korean martial art and sport, it has gained some popularity in other countries, particularly among those interested in traditional martial arts or combat sports.

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