The Philosophy of Taekwondo
Tae Kwon Do is not just training in kicking, punching and self defense. It is far more even than training in mental/physical coordination. A major feature of the art is the development of a certain spirit which carries over into all aspects of life. If there exists a means through which one could secure a stable, peaceful life, it would have to be based upon a harmony between oneself and nature. Do in Korean means “art,” “path,” “way,” “way of life.” It is the way in the universe. The philosophy of Tae Kwon Do has as its roots many of the tenets held by religious masters and devout laymen throughout history. The qualities can be traced back to the influence of Buddhism, and its aim of the “Mastery of Life.” Buddhism, introduced to the Koguryo kingdom in China in 347 A.D., contributed greatly to the growth of the Korean martial arts. The focus of Tae Kwon Do philosophy is to offer a means by which the student can rid him/herself of the ego, or what Zen-Buddhists call “discriminating mind,” in order to live in harmony with the universe.
At the core of this philosophy is the concept of ‘duality’ in nature. Duality refers to the interaction of opposing forces. Harmony is achieved when opposite forces are distributed equally, resulting in balance. When one force dominates however, discord is the result. For example, when an adversary uses positive (aggressive) energy, or in other words initiates an attack, the defender should use negative (yielding) energy to respond, by stepping aside to allow the energy of that attack to flow past harmlessly. In this manner, what was once hard (the assailant’s attack) becomes soft (non injurious), and what was soft (the defender’s passivity) becomes hard (an effective way to counter a potential dangerous assault), allowing balance to return.
Ultimately, the philosophy of Tae Kwon Do seeks to bring students to a level of consciousness known as “Present Time.” This occurs when one is completely in tune with oneself and nature to the degree that ones actions and reactions are always perfectly coordinated with the forces in life whether that be in the sparring ring, in a social setting or even when alone. Such a person cannot be made upset by anything it encounters in life. True masters of Tae Kwon Do are noted for their serene personalities, which stem from their living in Present Time.
Every person is capable of coordinating him or herself with the forces in life more perfectly. By centering oneself and balancing the dual forces through living in “Present Time,” students can begin to touch the true goal of all human life which is the aspiration to and application of perfection.
Grandmaster Chunkil Chae