Quite often our philosophy is referred to as “ the DO “, or “ the Way “. Such philosophy states that the practical learning of Taekwon-Do is of little value if its spiritual side is relegated. Mind and body are considered inseparable as General Choi Hong Hi, founder of Taekwon-Do, laid special emphasis on this idea by joining the lettering of our art with a hyphen that links both parts, showing how essential this is to an harmonious and simultaneous development.
It means that the moment one takes up physical performance with tenacity and perseverance – the part we are likely to enjoy most – it also becomes necessary to apply our tenets and fully exercise them in practice, not as a mere repetition or as a memory habit but rather to adopt a way of living which will tune us with the power that practicing Taekwon-Do provides us.
In the words of our founder, courtesy ranks as the most important of such tenets, for it is a category that sets us in a different class from animals; only does the human being have the capacity to show courtesy and if we all showed it, there would be fewer social conflicts, since those conflicts many times occur for lack of finesse rather than because of profound disagreements over an issue.
Fostering integrity is essential in order to raise our self-esteem, by valuing our individuality we come to respect ourselves and understand that any meaningful achievement requires self-esteem.
Perseverance is the quality that will enable us to reach goals beyond our inborn skills. Nature may have endowed us with the very best ingredients but if we do not practice often enough, in the long run we shall be defeated by that practitioner who possesses the necessary tenacity and perseverance to train and train relentlessly, and overpower a more gifted rival.
Self-control is one of the essential principles in our practice, for it channels aggression and teaches us how to make that energy flow in a positive way, preventing any gratuitous violence that may be triggered by excessive energy. It is fundamental to keep a balance between reason and emotion, as a way of acquiring the necessary self-confidence when the moment demands to choose a certain course of action.
Indomitable spirit means precisely to muster all determination and courage for a wise choice in situations where we must overcome fear and it is this wild spirit which allows the Taekwon-Do practitioner to achieve their goals, no matter what inconveniences or obstacles might block the way and especially when freedom and justice are at stake.
As well as the student´s duties, the five tenets cited above are crucial to our philosophy. The first one states that one should “observe the tenets of Taekwon-Do”, then followed by “respect senior and elders”, which perhaps is not well rooted enough among the younger generations; this tenet is not only about respecting those who are more knowledgeable in our Taekwon-Do class but rather to be kind and considerate at all times towards elderly people by giving them our full attention and the thoughtfulness that they deserve. This starts in the relationship with our own children and our pupils, who will faithfully follow our example.
“Do not distort the Taekwon-Do name¨. Here is a warning against making a wrong use of our knowledge and our sparring practice, preventing any transformation of this defense system into an attacking system and avoiding any obtainment of things by force and the misuse of our art. Again, this is related with the need for self-control as a way to limit aggressiveness.
“Being a champion of freedom and justice” defines life itself as the true tournament and the choice of values, which the practitioner embraces as its main requirement, respecting freedom and enforcing its respect, which should be defended by a fair justice.
“Helping to build a more peaceful world” is one of the duties which best synthesizes our philosophy, since the application of what is stated above turns the Taekwon-Do practitioner into a more qualified member in their contribution to the effective improvement of our society.
Empathy is that attitude which consists in knowing how to place oneself in our fellow being´s position, especially when they are suffering. Such predisposition will always bring about positive deeds, as long as we do not lose sight that the world is populated by all kinds of creatures, besides ourselves.
In peace with our conscience and by nurturing our spiritual growth, we may rely that younger generations will benefit from a social evolution that will add to a happier and more fulfilling life.
The key to developing the spiritual qualities we mention is not to merely repeat such statements every lesson but rather the in conviction we place in our beliefs and to be able to fully incorporate them into our lives.
The ITF possesses a special program launched by the late GM Tran Trieu Quan, which boosts the teaching of such values, and this program is available to all member countries. The culmination of such a program has been the responsibility of Dr. Janel Gauthier, who together with members of a committee, aim is to train for its tuition. Together we will be able to put it into practice, provided we are willing to carry out a profound and sincere analysis of our own behaviour, which is no easy task in a world which often favours a more materialistic approach.
(extract from “The Art of Taekwon-Do ITF” 2014)