What is Taekwondo?
- Taekwondo is a method of self-defense. The guiding principle of the art is that the practitioner shall make no attack except if s/he is threatened by a dangerous opponent.
- The discipline of Taekwondo is designed to make the student non-violent; to make his/her life more meaningful. The essence of the art of Taekwondo rests in the integrity of the practitioner.
- Accordingly, the first technique taught in training is the bow of respect by which the individual attests to the trust in their instructor and in their fellow students (his/her friends in practice).
- Fear is restricting, one who is fearful limits themselves and tries to impose limitations upon the freedom of others. When we are free of fear, we no longer seek to dominate others for we are confident that they cannot dominate us... they have no means of intimidating us. We know that we have a valid place in the world and in society. We have chosen it, taken it, taken root, and flowered in it.
- There are those who, lacking in true inner confidence, attempt to assert their individuality by boisterous and belligerent protestations against anything that thwarts them: and that is almost everything.
- Yin and Yang, the concept of Hard and Soft is a theory essential to the study of Tae Kwon Do. The practitioner's of Tae Kwon Do become mind in manner with the knowledge that they can assert themselves with force when necessary. S/he becomes like water, which because it possesses tremendous natural force - for generating life as well as the terrible destruction - is all the more beautiful and reassuring when we see it in a gentle stream; flowing around the rough rocks in it's path.
- Without the proper approach and attitude, the student, though s/he practices the techniques exhaustively, will not arrive at the ultimate goal of the art which is to realize a true and full determination of oneself.
History and Origins of Taekwondo
The word Taekwondo means literally "the way of the hand and foot" in Korean. Taekwondo in its modern form was first devised by General Choi Hong Hi in 1955, but the native Korean martial arts on which it is based can be traced back many hundreds of years.
The earliest evidence of martial arts can be seen in the Kokuryo dynasty (37 - 668 AD). Wall paintings found on tombs uncovered near the Aspro river show what appears to be unarmed combat between two people. However there is no other evidence of unarmed combat during this dynasty. It was during the Silla Dynasty that the first real evidence of martial arts in Korea came from. The Hwa rang or the military caste were experts in unarmed combat - as well as archery, sword fighting and horse riding. Annual festivals were held where the Hwa rang demonstrated their fighting skills. It was during this time that the Kingdom of Korea was expanded to include the entire Korean peninsula.
During the Koryo Dynasty (953 - 1392), the martial arts prevailing at the time were systematized and thought to the Korean military. Compulsory martial arts tournaments for the military were held in which their skills were honed. During the Yi Dynasty (1392 - 1907 AD), a number of influential books on martial arts techniques were published - the Korean History book and the Military Arts Manual. With the fall of the Yi Dynasty and the Japanese occupation of Korea (1907 - 1945) however, the native Korean martial arts were forbidden from being practiced. However when the Japanese introduced conscription into Korea, the martial arts were reinstated, and the Japanese arts of Karate, Kendo, Aikido and Judo were introduced. This cross pollination of ideas led to many new techniques being adapted and incorporated into the Korean systems.
Taekwondo - A Way of Life
Taekwon-Do is the scientific use of the body in the method of self-defense; a body that has gained the ultimate use of its faculties through intensive physical and mental training.
Though it is a martial art, its discipline, technique and mental training are the mortar for building a strong sense of justice, fortitude, humility and resolve. It also implies a way of thinking and life, particularly in instilling a concept and spirit of strict self imposed discipline.
Translated literally "Tae" stands for jumping or flying, to kick or smash with the foot. "Kwon" denotes the fist - chiefly to punch or destroy with the hand or fist. "Do" means the art or way - the right way built and paved by the saints and sages of the past. Thus taken collectively "Taekwon-Do" indicates the mental training and the techniques of unarmed combat for self-defense as well as health, involving the skilled application of punches, kicks, blocks and dodges with bare hands and feet to the rapid destruction of the moving opponent or opponents.
Student Guidelines by Gen. Choi
- Never tire of learning. A good student can learn anywhere, anytime. This is the secret to knowledge.
- A good student must be willing to sacrifice for his art and instructor. Many students feel that their training is a commodity bought with monthly dues, and are unwilling to take part in demonstrations, teaching and helping around the Dojang.
- Always set a good example for lower ranking students. It is only natural they will attempt to emulate senior students.
- Always be loyal and never criticize the instructor, Taekwon-Do or the teaching methods.
- If an instructor teaches a technique, practice it and attempt to utilize it.
- Remember that a student’s conduct outside the Dojang reflects on the art and the instructor.
- If a student adopts a technique from another Dojang and the instructor disapproves of it the student must discard it immediately or train at the gym where the technique was learned.
- Never be disrespectful to an instructor. Though a student is allowed to disagree with an instructor, the student must first follow the instruction and discuss the matter later.
- A student must always be eager to learn and ask questions.
- Never betray the instructor.