Taekwondo: A Sport, a Culture, a Way of Life

Table of Content

Whether people pattern tae kwon do for athletics, diversion, art, or merely for a avocation, there are five dogmas that govern the practician’s life. Those five dogmas are: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, and Indomitable Spirit. For 1000s of old ages, irrespective of what their intent might be for practising tae kwon do, it can non assist but hold a positive consequence both physically and mentally on the person.

History of Tae Kwon Do

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All people are equipped with an inherent aptitude to support themselves, and therefore they are in demand of assorted agencies to fend off enemies. The human lineage, nevertheless, didn’T yet have any agencies to protect itself from enemy onslaughts, and people had to trust on accomplishments of their bare custodies. The outgrowth of tae kwon do is no different from this background. As worlds began to utilize tools, arms developed, but even so the endurance replete continued to be and people devoted themselves to developing physical strength and accomplishments.

During the Three Kingdoms period ( first century B.C. – A.D. 7th century ) tae kwon do became the basic athletics for provinces and small towns as a manner to better national defence and combat accomplishments, and shortly it was developed, with the accent as a athletics, in spiritual rites. Under the province sponsorship, Koguryo ( 37 B.C. -A.D. 668 ) had an organized Martial creative persons called sonbae and Shilla ( 57 B.C. – A.D. 935 ) boasted hwarang warriors.

In civilian life, husbandmans and others decided on the picking order in small towns after a competition of subokta, an unarmed athletics. Around this period, subakhu, a systemized division of accomplishments, was the footing of all soldierly humanistic disciplines for the upper category and a utile defence accomplishment for the populace. Taekkyon, a basic soldierly art which is depicted in old grave wall paintings in Manchuria, besides emerged and developed.

Koryo Dynasty ( 918 – 1392 )

During this period, taekkyon, which foremost emerged during the Koguryo and Shilla periods, evolved into a more systemized soldierly art. It was already divided into basic moves and manus and pes techniques, and it was so valued that it was a necessity for

warriors to come in authorities places. The accomplishments and its force reached a considerable degree, and went through a procedure of systematisation with obyong subakhu, and developed into a group competition. From this record, it is clear that there existed certain criterions or regulations to judge triumph or licking in a sparring state of affairs.

In the History of Koryo, tae kwon do is recorded as subakhu, which was nationally promoted and widespread among even the populace. With the development of gun- pulverization, this athletics showed a lessened import as a soldierly art but was established as a athletics or game. ( Korea: Its History and Culture Kp54 ) .

Choson Dynasty ( 1392-1910 )

With the development of new arms, bare-hand soldierly humanistic disciplines declined. In add-on, Confucianism was adopted as the guiding doctrine and national events such as yondunghoe and palgwanhoe disappeared, ensuing in a blow to national publicity and systematic support of soldierly humanistic disciplines. After the Hideyoshi Nipponese Invasion ( 1592-1598 ) , a systematic publicity took clasp for the preparation of a few sorts of soldierly humanistic disciplines. Government scrutinies were offered for military work forces and many books on soldierly humanistic disciplines appeared in this period.

Taekkyon was revived in this context with the encouragement from the province, but towards the terminal of the dynasty in the period of enlightenment, tae kwon do as a common people drama or amusement was emphasized, instead than as a serious soldierly art. During the Nipponese colonial period ( 1910-1945 ) , it was repressed for being a traditional athletics but the Masterss kept it alive in secret. ( p58 ) .

Contemporary period

After the release ( 1945 ) and the Korean War ( 1950-1953 ) , state of affairss stabilized and reconstructing of the state started in earnest. Gradually taekwondo spread among the Korean populace. In peculiar, acknowledgment of traditional Korean civilization took clasp and accordingly many common people games have been revived and many tae kwon do gyms ( dojang ) opened. Taekwondo developed in many parts of the state before its value was eventually recognized by the authorities. The authorities promoted it as a policy; the figure of people engaged in the athletics has grown steadily and now it is widespread throughout the state.

In 1971, tae kwon do was designated as a national athletics in acknowledgment of its proficient high quality and its singular effects for training organic structure, mental province and moral intent. In the present, Korea holds many international title lucifers in an attempt to increase the figure of taekwondo practicians. ( p62 ) .

Tae Kwon Do Mind and its Effectss

Regardless of age and the locations of states, soldierly humanistic disciplines have ever placed more importance on the participant’s province of head as a disciplinary means than the technique per Se. Taekwondo originated to support self from foreign enemy onslaughts, but with the development of arms, the practical value of “protection from enemies” diminished. As a consequence, tae kwon do has been considered a soldierly art that cultivates head and bosom.

Taekwondo Mind

As the head refers to ideas that are established through scrutiny of values every bit good as idea procedures, tae kwon do head signifies a systematic idea procedure derived from taekwondo preparation. If a individual has developed effectual cognitive abilities through a preparation procedure, it can be said that he has already acquired the tae kwon do head, the ideal province for tae kwon do practicians. Every practician needs to hold bravery and wisdom to draw a bead on to it. When tae kwon do’s proficient, artistic, philosophical facets have been formed through preparation and incorporated into the practician’s character, taekwondo head is believed to hold taken root.

By nature, tae kwon do has two facets – soldierly art techniques and moral intent – and by uniting these two, a strong head emerges. The nature of this head is correctness, or etiquette, which brings out just, weather, keeping attitude. In short, taekwondo preparation is a procedure in which the doctrine that guides our mundane life is invariably developed. ( Lee, Personal Interview ) .

Meaning and Effectss of preparation

What attitude can a individual cultivate through tae kwon do preparation? From long ago, the basic virtuousness of all educational procedure, including tae kwon do, has been to fling immorality and get true goodness. For this intent, tae kwon do holds beloved such virtuousnesss as benevolence, etiquette, modestness and generousness. Many Masterss transmit tae kwon do with this spirit in head. If soldierly humanistic disciplines are performed without a right head, techniques do non go a agencies to cultivate character and support ego but they degenerate into a arm to injury and onslaught others. ( Lee ) .

In decision, the head that is cultivated in tae kwon do includes bravery that can run into anyone with self-respect, endurance and temperateness. When these virtuousnesss are pursued through this athletics, the practician can be generous to a weaker individual and remain unagitated in the face of trouble.

Cloth Belts

When human organic structure is divided into caput, upper organic structure and legs, the waist is the centre of these three parts. Wearing a belt around your waist means that it helps you keep yourself unsloped, giving power to yourself. In preparation, the belts are of import as portion of the garment. The belt, shirt and bloomerss can be explained in the Eastern construct of Trinity. The shirt symbolizes Heaven, the bloomerss Earth, and the belt human existences. The doctrine of Trinity, which believes that human existences make a smaller version of the existence, is applied to taekwondo. Unlike Western construct of Trinity, the Eastern opposite number originates from a human-centred point of position that the existence is composed of Heaven, Earth and Human Beings. ( Populating the Soldierly Way p73 ) .

Students progress from 1 kup to 9 kup, and in more advanced degrees from 1dan to 9 dan. Novitiates wear white belts. The colour white has an of import significance to Koreans; it is the footing of all colourss and at the same clip it indicates the beginning or birth. Difficult preparation must be repeated to progress to the black belt. Through this preparation, self-fulfillment is achieved. The belt non merely implies the philosophical reading but besides a manner of life. Cultivating equal etiquette in taekwondo preparation can non be emphasized excessively much.

Taekwondo Organizations

As tae kwon do’s arising state, Korea has many organisations and associations for this athletics. Among them, two organisations are of greater importance Kukkiwon, the central office of international tae kwon do, and the International Taekwondo Federation.


It was founded in 1972 in order to research and develop traditional tae kwon do spirit and techniques every bit good as to centralise organisations to do taekwondo a first athletics. The International Taekwondo Federation, headquartered at Kukkiwon, was opened in May 1973 and plays an of import function in developing international tae kwon do.

Kukkiwon, as a Mecca for tae kwon do, has trained 15,000 Masterss through attached Taekwondo Academy in order to correctly propagate tae kwon do. These Masterss devote themselves to distributing taekwondo all over the Earth Village.

Poom or Dan publicity trials and issue of certifications, one of the chief maps of this organisation, are internationally recognized. The ordinances of the International Taekwondo Federation specify that Dan certifications should be approved by Kukkiwon, and for international competitions, merely athletes with these Dan certifications are qualified to take part. ( Official WTF Taekwondo p163 ) .

International Taekwondo Federation

This federation was founded in May 1973 with the intent of distributing taekwondo worldwide along with Korea’s alone tae kwon do spirit. In 1975, it joined General Assembly of International Sports Federations ( GAISF ) , and now it is a focal organisation in the international tae kwon do field by hosting many intern

ational games including the International Taekwondo Championships and World Cup Championships. In add-on, tae kwon do Masterss are on a regular basis dispatched to popularise and better tae kwon do techniques, and through seminars and educational plans Judgess are trained and their makings maintained.

In the present, 144 states are members, and there are 50 million tae kwon do population throughout the universe. It is headquartered at Kukkiwon, and since 1973 Kim Un-yong, a Vice President of the International Olympic Committee, has been president. ( Official WTF Taekwondo p 174 ) .

The words physical and mental are frequently used to depict taekwondo preparation, and most teachers would hold that it develops pupils physical art and mental abilities. But what about the other dimension of tae kwon do: the philosophical? That relates to how one approaches preparation, instruction and the ultimate end of self-perfection. The philosophical side of the art equips pupils with the spirit to develop themselves to their fullest possible utilizing instructions from three great Eastern doctrines: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. ( Populating the Soldierly Way p209 ) .


Confucianism, a philosophical system based on the instructions of Confucius, has been practiced in China and other parts of Asia for about 2,500 old ages. Confucius is the Romanization of Kung Fu Tzu, the name of the sage who lived from about 551 BC to 479 BC. One of the most influential instructors in Chinese history, he saw his chief map as conveying the ancient cultural heritage of China to his many adherents. The nature of Confucianism is more practical and ethical than spiritual.

Confucius instructions focused on adult male s function in society. To keep societal order, he emphasized the importance of trueness to the province, filial piousness and hereditary worship. He believed that every animal and every object have an appointed topographic point in nature and should act consequently. He taught that citizens should larn their functions and responsibilities to advance social harmoniousness.

Confucianism has a strong presence in tae kwon do. First, the trueness and regard that tae kwon do Teachs pupils to keep for their teachers, parents and state are dogmas of Confucianist beginning. Students learn to obey and esteem the caput of their association, their maestro teachers and all other teachers and black belts. They are besides encouraged to obey and esteem their parents and behave consequently within the confines of their school, workplace, place and community. This is frequently expressed through regulations that prohibit pupils from practising if they break the jurisprudence or engage in inappropriate behaviour inside or outside the dojang ( developing hall ) . When pupils test for first-degree black belt, they normally swear to certain rules, which may be stated in assorted signifiers in their school s black belt curse:

  • To be loyal to one s state,
  • To honour one s parents and instructors,
  • To be loyal to one s tae kwon do school, maestro teacher and other teachers; and to ne’er bewray them,
  • To esteem and honour seniors and friends,
  • To obey the Torahs and ordinances of the national, province and local authorities, and one s taekwondo school. ( Taekwondo p 103 ) .

Second, the tae kwon do rank system has been to a great extent influenced by Confucianism. Just as Confucianism stresses that everything has its appointed topographic point, tae kwon do Teachs that everyone in the dojang has his appointed topographic point. From the Godhead of the art down to the newest novice, everyone submits to a codified ranking system in which each individual knows his topographic point and acts consequently. This helps keep order within the dojang so training and direction can take topographic point.


Taoism has long existed as a counter-philosophy to Confucianism. Developed by a adult male called Lao Tzu more than 2,000 old ages ago, Taoism is basically realistic and antisocial. It advocates inactivity and leting natural order to take its class. The Taoist philosophy of Wu Wei is fundamentally the theory of allowing entirely. As a Doctrine of life, it means that one should maintain within the bounds of one s nature and allow life take attention of itself. ( The Elementss of Taoism p79 ) .

The word Taoist means manner or way. When capitalized, Tao normally refers to the cosmopolitan manner of nature and nonintervention. Therefore, by going one with the Tao, a pupil becomes one with nature. By allowing nature run its class, moving spontaneously and swearing one s intuitive cognition, the pupil of Taoism discovers his manner to contentment.

The Korean word for Taoist is do. Taekwondo, or the manner of kicking and pluging with proper attitude and concentration, guides its pupils toward the Taoist construct of self-perfection. The teacher s end is to do his pupils into better people when they leave his school than they were before they joined. Whether those pupils pattern for three hebdomads or three old ages, the teacher needs to assist them happen their manner. Not all pupils want to larn how to support themselves. Some are looking for assurance. Some want physical fittingness. Others merely want to experience like they belong. It is the teacher s responsibility to take them toward breaking themselves whatever manner that may be. ( T-USA: Professional Instruction p10 ) .

The construct of Wu Wei, the manner of non-action, has besides influenced tae kwon do. Wu Wei does non needfully intend that one should make nil as a class of action. It merely states that the making of things should be done for selfless grounds. A class of action should be followed because it is finally the right manner, non because of subterranean motivations.

An teacher sometimes has to do important and hard determinations. He may hold to think with uncooperative pupils who don T want to accept the dojang s regulations. He may hold to keep back pupils from being promoted because they are non prepared even though they have put in their clip. He may hold to relocate his school so it can go on to turn and make its fullest potency. Some cases demand that determinations be made, while others can be allowed to go on of course. ( T-USA Kp45 ) .


Since its beginnings in India more than 2,500 old ages ago, Buddhism has evolved from a doctrine into a faith. But the original signifier of Buddhism as taught by Siddhartha Gautama is a method of personal redemption that advocates the repudiation of secular desires, which are purportedly the cause of all agony. It besides teaches the apprehension of one s ain nature and topographic point in the existence. Through a system of subject and mystical self-development, pupils of Buddhism seek enlightenment, or redemption through the expiration of desire. ( What is Buddhism? infoweb.magi.com K ) .

In some Asiatic states, Buddhist monastics were taught hand-to-hand combat. Their exercisings were developed for self-defence and to beef up their organic structures so they could chew over for longer periods.

The first Buddhist influence on tae kwon do is related to descipline and concentration. The type of focal point needed for Buddhist speculation Sessionss is similar to the type needed for success in taekwondo category. In fact, many tae kwon do pupils pattern the art to larn head and organic structure control through self-defense techniques and concentration. In many ways, signifiers ( kata ) pattern is comparable to active speculation. To execute a series of motions, pupils must develop their concentration and subject themselves to do each technique precise. By pouring themselves into the signifier, they are absorbed by it; they are cognizant of everything the signifier has to learn and distracted by nil.

Buddhism s 2nd influence on tae kwon do comes from the Zen religious order. The Nipponese samurai practiced Zen so they could trust on themselves, deny their desires for stuff ownerships and remain resolved in the chase of their end.

One Zen part to taekwondo is the construct of mushin no shin, or head of no head. The samurai had to empty their head so they could be free from distraction. Although many taekwondo teachers ne’er mention the term, they do advert a related one: spirit. They often explain that spirit is one of the most of import facets of tae kwon do. There will ever be person who can kick higher, punch harder or hedge more rapidly, but if pupils cultivate their spirit to the highest grade possible, they will ever execute at their best in whatever they do, and that is all they can inquire of themselves. ( Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts p94 ) .

Teachers know that it is their spirit, non physical technique, that motivates the category and enables the pupils to larn tae kwon do. Through the teachers enthusiasm and dedication, the pupils degree can be improved. And that spirit is contagious. By sharing their spirit, they hope their pupils will be able to tap into it and finally make their ain enlightenment.

Implementing the Doctrines

The patterns and rules of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism that have influenced tae kwon do can still be observed in today s dojang. While Confucianism maintains order in the school, Taoism and Buddhism seek to take pupils and teachers on a way of self-discovery and self-perfection.

Although the dojang does non necessitate to be turned into a temple, by following the dogmas of these doctrines, teachers and pupils can go the best soldierly creative persons possible. As Confucius taught, every individual must find what he thinks he should make and so make his best. Even if he fails to accomplish his end, that is all right, for the of import thing is to seek. ( Dynamic Taekwondo p113 ) .

A Better World and Taekwondo

Although most would state that tae kwon do is non be the reply to universe peace, it is in fact an reply to re-instill the thoughts of ethical motives and values in today s society. When a society is governed by values and ethical motives, the society maps more expeditiously as a whole and hence would in fact make the universe a better topographic point to populate in.


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Taekwondo: A Sport, a Culture, a Way of Life. (2017, Jul 19). Retrieved from


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