Philosophy

TAEKWON-DO: A WAY OF LIFE

In Korean, tae means “foot”, kwon means “fist”, and do means “the way”. When translated literally to English, Taekwon-Do means “The way of the foot and fist”. However, that definition suggests only the physical aspects, and does not sufficiently encompass all that is truly the art of Taekwon-Do.

There are many facets to Taekwon-Do, and while physical conditioning and self defense skills are certainly advantages, there are other far-reaching benefits, including mental and physical fitness, personal discipline and self confidence. It all has to do with the development of the Taekwon-Do spirit, which carries over into all aspects of a person’s life. “Do” in Korean implies a philosophical way of approaching life – a means by which understanding is achieved.

Taekwon-Do seeks to improve a person mentally, physically, and spiritually: The physical techniques strengthen the body and improve coordination and timing; the development of concentration strengthens the mind and improves mental attitudes. The combination of the mental and physical conditioning produces an all-around more positive outlook, better discipline and a renewed sense of confidence.

“The philosophy of Taekwon-Do is based on the ethical, moral, and spiritual standards by which men can live together in harmony.”

­General Choi Hong Hi, Founder of Taekwon-Do


TENETS OF TAEKWON-DO

The philosophy of Taekwon-Do is based upon constant striving for excellence. The goal is to become an honorable person with perfect character and physical condition. To realize the ultimate benefits of Taekwon-Do, one must practice it daily and commit to it for a lifetime. Though none of these goals is absolutely attainable, the key is in one’s endeavors. In Taekwon-Do, we honor five fundamental tenets of living. These should serve as a guide to all serious students of the art, both inside and outside of class:

Courtesy. Students must show respect to their instructors, to higher ranking students and to all others. Students must be polite and encourage a sense of justice. Students must constantly look within themselves and not be quick to judge others. Courtesy can be summed up as having respect for self and others.

Integrity. One must be able to define right and wrong and have the conscience, if wrong, to feel remorse. Within the do-jang, one must honestly attempt to do whatever the instructor asks. If you are asked to do 20 push-ups, do not do only 10 because the instructor is not watching you. Outside the do-jang, students must not misrepresent themselves or rationalize their behavior. Integrity can be summed up as knowing right from wrong, and acting accordingly; and also as doing the right thing, especially when nobody is watching.

Perseverance. Nothing of any true good comes easily. Perseverance and patience are required to excel at anything. Perseverance means sticking to it. If you fail the first time, or even the hundredth time, try again, confident that you will succeed as long as your purpose is worthy. Perseverance can be summed up as never giving up on a task.

Self Control. This tenet is extremely important inside and outside the do-jang, either conducting oneself in free sparring or in one’s personal affairs. Good self-control in free sparring enables you to execute stunning techniques without injuring your partners. Good self-control in daily life allows you to work comfortably and confidently with others. Self Control can be summed up as governing one’s emotions and actions.

Indomitable Spirit. Never be afraid to be yourself and trust your judgment. Indomitable spirit is what enables you to keep your ideals and your identity in the face of overwhelming pressures. It is the strength to reject the things that “everyone else is doing” if you believe them to be wrong. The martial arts skills learned in Taekwon-Do are to be used to prevent conflict and violence. Never should a Taekwon-Do student initiate physical conflict, and the techniques of Taekwon-Do should be used only as a last resort in self defense or in the defense of another person. Essentially, Taekwon-Do students are expected to be model citizens and work for the betterment of their community. Indomitable Spirit can be summed up as never giving up on yourself.

These tenets are the most important aspects of Taekwon-Do. Because they cannot be formally practiced in a classroom session in the manner of patterns or technique, it is up to the student to practice this way of approaching daily life on their own.


FUNDAMENTALS OF SELF-DEFENSE: BEYOND PHYSICAL SKILLS

Taekwon-Do strives to teach the student that fighting, even if for self defense, is not the goal. Learning to avoid situations where there is a need to defend oneself – learning to have enough confidence in who you are to walk away from confrontation rather than escalating it – is the essence of Taekwon-Do. In order to do this, broaden your perspective of self defense to that of maximum personal well-being. This involves more than knowing how to fight or defend oneself against an attack. It starts with a strong, positive physical, mental and spiritual grounding. It includes such things as a good diet, exercise, poise and high self esteem. It means keeping yourself physically and mentally fit.

If you carry yourself in a confident manner, it is far less likely you will ever be attacked. High self-esteem also will allow your good sense to prevail and keep you away from dangerous situations.

Daily practice of Taekwon-Do will not only give you the necessary self-defense skills, but also build self-confidence to maximize your personal well-being.

Preferred ways to maintain maximum personal well-being:

  1. Stay away from potentially dangerous places or situations.
  2. If you wander into such a situation, do not panic, but leave promptly.
  3.  If confronted, don’t encourage an escalation of the conflict. Keep your cool.
  4. If an attack is imminent, get away fast, if that is possible.
  5. If you cannot get away, shout. Draw attention to your predicament and attempt to scare away your assailant.
  6. If it becomes apparent that you absolutely cannot elude the attacker in any other way, you have no other choice than to defend yourself.

Maintaining your personal well being, both physically and mentally, requires continuous commitment. To have effective power, speed and technique, one must practice regularly and diligently. Likewise you must constantly strive to be a better person on a mental/spiritual level.

Classes build strength, stamina and flexibility, which can be maintained over a long lifetime if the student practices on a regular basis each week. Classes also seek to instill a positive, pro-active mental outlook – one where students are encouraged to reach for their full potential – not to realize their limitations. There is no quick-fix solution to obtaining a state of maximum personal well being. A constant maintenance, or total way-of-life approach is preferred. Taekwon-Do: it is a way of life.