Veteran Sparring: Taekwon-do Tenets in Action

Young martial artists and sportsmen can learn a lot from “veterans.”

I love the below sparring final video from the 2016 World Cup (Budapest) for two reasons.

First, you can clearly see how the opponents respect each either despite high stakes. After all, this was a fight for the champion title. This is what courtesy is about – the first tenet of taekwondo.

Second, the master from Argentina managed to literally squeeze out the victory six seconds before the match end. He demonstrated a true indomitable spirit – another tenet of taekwondo.

A great example of tenets in action.


Karate Kata


Most, if not all, traditional martial arts have formalized patterns, be it kata in karate, tul in taekwondo, or you name it.

Patterns are in essence crystallized containers of both attacking and defensive techniques. While some martial arts practitioners may find patterns boring, they are actually very exciting.

The only thing is that patterns need to be “unpacked” to understand their real meaning and applicability.

A good example is given by Michael Jai White in the video below. While this is just a movie, the illustation is quite vivid.

Real Martial Art Begins Outside the Dojo

That’s right.

And by “outside the dojo” I don’t mean fighting in the street to test your skills.

I find numerous debates and Youtube comments on “Which style is more effective?” futile and counter-productive. For the purpose of martial arts is not just prepare you for fighting, but prepare you for life.

Make you focused, determined, and driven. Build up your character. Unleash your human potential. Give the courage to fight for your dreams.

Let’s say you train taekwon-do and recite the tenets of taekwon-do before each class. And forget about them once the class ends. One of the tenets is integrity, for instance, which means to “walk your talk”. So the class ends, and you return to your “normal” life breaking commitments.

Or you practice aikido, “the art of peace”, and learn to never cause violence to anyone. And then you commit emotional or mental violence to the people around.

I can take a radical stance by claiming that martial arts turn an “animal-human being” into a “human-human being”. Contrary to the common misperception, all martial arts build peace both within and outside, rather than incite violence.

And if that’s the case, what’s the point of training if you become an “animal” again after leaving the training hall?

Jigoro Kano put it very nicely by saying there are three levels of judo.

The quintessential story comes down to this apex: the real test of you as a martial artist is outside the dojo. 


The Purpose Political Science and Martial Arts Share (part 2)

In one of the posts I touched upon the commonality between seemingly divergent fields of political science and martial arts.

I re-iterate the idea in the current post.

What is common between political (social) science(s) and martial arts?

In a fascinating academic article (these two adjectivies don’t always go together) “Security and Emancipation” Ken Booth argues that the basis of security and peace in the new times is that governments, concerned individuals, NGOs and global civil society in general act as “local agents of the world common good” (phrase borrowed from another notable scholar Hedley Bull).

In other words – act local, think global.

The highest goal of any martial art is to generate peace both within and outside. This has been claimed by many accomplished martial artists, and by the founding fathers themselves (I am sure diligent practitioners will agree with this proposition).

Just as two quick examples, consider the taekwon-do oath (“I shall build a more peaceful world. I shall be a champion of freedom and justice.”) or read “The Art of Peace” by the aikido’s founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Both traditions – those of social science and martial arts – put peace as a critical issue on the agenda. Both offer their unique ways to promote it, and strive for it.

I find this extremely interesting, inspiring, and worthwhile to walk on both ways simultaneously.8T65rg5kc


Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets: Indomitable Spirit

Indomitable spirit completes the list of the tenets of taekwon-do.

For me, indomitable spirti is the quintessence of human existence.

In a training hall, it means having courage to face your opponent and your fear. Always step out of your comfort zone and risk. Find strenght to go on even though everything inside you is screaming that it’s over.

Similarly, beyond the trainnig environment indomitable spirit is having courage to be open to the world, learn, and push you limits. As I mentioned earlier, in my hierachy of values courage is one of the biggest virtues.

Indomitable spirit means forcing yourself to do what you fear doing.

Indomitable spirit is running away from safety.

Indomitable spirit is have the guts to be what you wanna be.

Indomitable spirit is showing no fear,
or running away when trouble is near,
It’s knowing in life there’s some risks you must take,
and along the way some mistakes you may make.
It’s standing up proudly and thinking with glee,
I’m OK! I can do it! I beleiv in me!

©The Academic Taekwondo

Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets:


Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets: Self-Control

If you have seen Captan America: Civil War, the end of the movie gets crazy. The heroes start fighting each other. To me this was ridiculous. I can’t accept that heroes can’t control their emotions.

Self-control is important. No wonder it is one of the five tenets of taekwon-do.

When in the training hall, self-control means you must control your anger during sparring. It also implies you must control you laziness; so it’s related to perseverance in training.

On a personal levvel, self-control is about controlling your negative thoughts, words, and emotions. And the best way to control them, in my opinion, is replace them with positive ones.

Self-control also means broadly you must be a master of your inner world, not the other way round. As Rudyard Kipling brilliantly put it:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…

In sum, self-control is indispensable for a fulfilled and balanced life. I conclude this post with another great verse on the importane of this tenet.

Self-control states a simple fact,
you should always think before you act.
It’s standing in class, not a muscle you twitch,
even if only to scratch an itch.
It’s counting to ten when things make you mad,
then walking away because fighting is bad.

©The Academic Taekwondo

Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets:


Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets: Perseverance

I have written about perseverance on more than one occasion. Perseverance is a critical asset no matter what you do and what you aim for. It is a final and perhaps most important element of the DAP approach: Desire – Action – Perseverance (patience).

Not surpisingly, it is also one of taekwon-do tenets.

To begin with a training hall, perseverance is crucial to progress in taekwon-do and any other martial art. You must keep on training no matter what your rank is. The way of taekwon-do, and the martial arts way in general, is endless.

Extrapolating this to the outer world, perseverance is ultimately never giving up. Whether you are pursuing a goal of your own, building up a relationship, or working on a project, the only way to succeed is to treat END as:

Effort. Never. Dies

Perseverance is telling your heart,
you’re going to finish the things that you start,
It’s refusing to quit when the going gets tough,
or starting to cry when the sparring gets rough.
It’s not giving up on the board you must break,
no matter how many tries it may take.

©The Academic Taekwondo

Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets: