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.


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:


Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets: Integrity

The second tenet of taekwon-do is integrity. I will use the same circles analogy as in the previous post to elaborate on this tenet.

The starting point is dojang, or the training hall. For me, integrity in dojang means being honest with your Master, instructors, and training fellows. Besides, it’s being honest with yourself about your progress in taekwon-do.

The next sphere is yourself. Integrity here involves two things in my opinion. First, being honest and self-critical about yourself. Second, being able to stand by your principles and follow your personal commitments. Ultimately, integrity means there is no gap between your thoughts, words, and actions.

Next comes the close circle of family and friends. Integrity here implies keeping promises, as well as being honest towards your close people about who and what they are. For example, if you think your friend does something wrong, you need to tell him/her about it rather then avoid “hurting him/her.” Naked truth is better than a pile of sweet lies.

Finally, there’s the whole world out there. The same principlies from the first three circles apply here. To reiterate, the golden rule, in my judgement, is to make sure your thoughts, words, and deeds are in harmony. This is what integrity means.

Integrity is the simple rule,
of being honest at home and in school.
It’s never cheating when taking a test,
or thinking you’re better that all of the rest.
To lie or steal just wouldn’t be right,
so ty to be honest with all of your might.

©The Academic Taekwondo

Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets:


Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets: Courtesy

The first line of taekwon-do oath says: “I shall observe the tenets of taekwon-do”. All taekwon-do practitioners are well aware of them: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit.

I have decided to medidate for one day on each of these tenets, as well as focus on it practically throughout the day. This does not mean, of course, that I will abandon the tenets after five days. My only intention is to dedicate extra time to these principlies in order to better grasp and embrace them.

I begin with courtesy.

I think each each tenet can be best understood via the “circles” analogy.

Imagine a set of expanding circles with you in the middle. The first and smallest circle is the training hall. Courtesy here means respect towards your Master, instructors, and training mates. Moreover, embracing courtesy within the training area will allow projecting it in the outer world too.

The second bigger circle is yourself. Courtesy towards yourself means self-respect. We need to respect ourselves no matter how imperfect we are. Self-respect begets confidence and optimism. Again, the lack of self-respect translates easily into lack of respect towards others.

The next even wider circle is your family and close environment. We ought to respect our parents for they dedicate their lives to raise ourselves. We need to be courteous towards our relatives and friends also as they are the closest people we share our experiences with.

Finally, the biggest circle is the whole world. Courtesy here involves such ideas and practices as tolerance, non-discrimination, mutual respect, and non-violence towards all living organisms.

All in all, this tenet – like all the others – is a compass for both personal development and nurturing relationships with the World.

Courtesy is giving a bow,
to black belts and teachers who show you how.
It’s doing your chores before you are asked,
and being helpful in every class.
It’s simple words like thank you and please,
and never – no, never to hurt or tease.

©The Academic Taekwondo

Boxing vs. Taekwon-do

Following the previous post, here is another beautiful fight between a boxer and a taekwondoka. This time things got bad for the latter.

Both of the fighters are very skillful. The taekwon-do man starts great by a series of kicks in the head. Yet after missing a cross from the boxer at 1:17 he gets demoralized. As a result – jab knockout in the beginning of the 3rd minute.

This match proves again that mastership is the ultimate criteria.