The Philosophy of Tae Kwon Do

The philosophy of the martial arts as applied in Tae Kwon Do is based on the unity of spirit with physical action. In order to effectively act as a natural weapon in a given moment, the body's muscles and joints must be trained to coordinate movement. However, the development of the body and the coordination of Tae Kwon Do techniques are not fully effective unless they occur in conjunction with the training of moral character, kindness, self-discipline, patience, forgiveness, and humility.

Thus, meditation is practiced to unify the body and mind; thoughts are clarified and actions made more efficient. Knowing (that is understanding that the individual is complete within) provides the ability to act confidently. Concentration also contributes toward achieving optimum performance; as does a sense of calm and determination which overcomes distraction and troubled perception. Life is enriched.

The application of the yin and yang principles further allows certain areas of the body to be utilized to their maximum potential. The yin and yang or the soft and hard areas of the body are trained to react with speed and agility in appropriate ways. The soft areas of the body for instance, are pliable and are not used to resist attack. They are used to allow the opponent to be carried off balance. The hard areas of the body being resistant, are used to fend off the attacker. When applied correctly, the principles of yin and yang place the opponent at a disadvantage.

The individual must realize that to defend one's life means also to risk losing it and by accepting such a likelihood, fear will not cause distraction. The trained mind and body acting in unison is like intuitive reflex. The body's response is synchronized with perception.

Tae Kwon Do is a combination of a state of mind working in unison with a trained body. When kindness and humility accompany physical grace the use of Tae Kwon Do becomes an art. Unlike the western idea of technique and proficiency in skills as the ultimate goal in defensive development, the Eastern idea goes beyond such limits and incorporates the martial art as a way of being one with the world. Consciously living in harmonious unison with all there is around you on a daily basis is the philosophy of Tae Kwon Do in action, not the use of the body as a destructive tool for wanton purposes. What is learned in Tae Kwon Do is the ability to distinguish necessary from unnecessary antagonisms in the cause of self-preservation, not the wasting of energies in fear and destruction. The individual overcomes the lack of faith in one's self through the development of bodily skills and natural strengths in conjunction with a sense of oneness; and the ultimate goal, to live, is achieved.

Self-confidence makes people generous in their attitudes toward weaker people. They can stand equally against any opponent, but their code forbids unfair assaults or unnecessary use of force. The practice of Tae Kwon Do gives an individual the mental attitude of modesty. The virtues of modesty and generosity are fundamentally based on self-confidence. The inner self grows through the constant discipline of emotions. This inner strength of intellect offers a greater amount of time for independent decisions and understanding. Control of immediate aggressions, judgments, and verbal assaults leads one to the path of avoidance of harsh and rash remarks and decisions. Instead of letting verbal or physical satisfaction dominate one's actions, one is constantly striving to offer mutual respect and on occasion, one's pride for submission. The essence of Tae Kwon Do rests in the integrity of the its practitioner.

In Conclusion

The martial arts are based upon understanding, hard work, and a total comprehension of skills. Power training and the use of force are easy, but total comprehension of the skills of the martial arts is very difficult to achieve. To understand, you must study all of natural movement in all living things.

Naturally, you can understand the martial arts of others, you can study their timing and their weaknesses. Just knowing these two elements will give you the capacity to knock them down rather easily, but the martial arts are not to hurt, but rather one of the avenues through which life opens its secrets to us. We can see through others only when we can see through ourselves and martial arts is a step toward knowing oneself.

There is a vast difference between combat skills and art. The aim of art is to project an inner vision into the world, to state in aesthetic creation the deepest psychic and personal experiences of a human being. It is to enable those experiences to be intelligible and generally recognized within the total framework of an ideal world. Art is an expression of life and transcends both time and space. We must employ our own souls through art to give a new form and a new meaning to nature or the world. An artist's expression is his soul made apparent, his schooling, as well as his "cool" being exhibited. Behind every motion, the music of his soul is made visible. Otherwise, his motion is empty, and empty motion is like an empty word - no meaning. Art is never embellishment; instead, it is a work of enlightenment. Art, in other words, is a technique for acquiring liberty.

Creation in art is the psychic unfolding of the personality, which is rooted in the "nothing." Its effect is a deepening of the personal dimension of the soul. Artistic skill, therefore, does not mean artistic perfection. It remains rather a continuing medium or reflection of some step in psychic development, the perfection of which is not to be found in shape and form, but must radiate from the human soul.

Return to Index

Copyright © 1997, Mountian Tae Kwon Do School, All Rights Reserved