Taekwondo is one
of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional
martial arts, that teaches more than physical fighting
skills. It is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing
our spirit and life through training our body and mind.
Today, it has become a global sport that has gained an
international reputation, and stands among the official
games in the Olympics.
Let's take a closer look at the meaning of the
word "Tae" "Kwon" "Do."
It is composed of three parts as shown in the English
spelling, though it is one word in Korean. "Tae"
means "foot," "leg," or "to
step on"; "Kwon" means "fist,"
or "fight"; and "Do" means the
"way" or "discipline." If we
put these three parts together, we can see two important
concepts behind "Tae Kwon Do".
First, Taekwondo is the right
way of using Tae and Kwon 'fists and feet,' or all the
parts of the body that are represented by fists and feet.
Second, it is a way to control or calm down fights and
keep the peace. This concept comes from the meaning of
Tae Kwon 'to put fists under control' [or 'to step on
fists']. Thus Taekwondo means "the right way of using
all parts of the body to stop fights and help to build
a better and more peaceful world."
Taekwondo has been developing
with the 5000-year long history of Korea, being called
by several different names in the course. In Korea, Taekwondo
began as a defense martial art called "Subak"
or "Taekkyon," and developed as a way of training
body and mind in the ancient kingdom of Koguryo, under
the name of "Sunbae." In the Shilla period,
it had become the backbone of Hwarangdo that aimed at
producing leaders of the country.
Taekwondo today is similar to the martial arts
in other Oriental countries and shares some features
with them, because in the course of its evolution
it has gained many different styles that existed
in the martial arts of the countries surrounding
Korea, like Japan and China.
But Taekwondo is very different from many
such oriental martial arts. First, physically it is very
dynamic with active movements that include a mirage of
foot skills. Second, the principle physical movements
are in simpatico with that of the mind and life as a whole.
Third, it possesses dynamic poses from another perspective.
Taekwondo can be characterized by unity:
the unity of body, mind, and life, and the unity of the
pose ["poomsae"] and confrontation, and cracking
down. When you do Taekwondo, you should make your mind
peaceful and synchronize your mind with your movements,
and extend this harmony to your life and society. This
is how in Taekwondo the principle of physical movements,
the principle of mind training, and the principle of life
become one and the same. On the other hand, the right
poomsae lead to the right confrontation, which will eventually
produce great destructive power.
How come we reach such a unity in Taekwondo?
Taekwondo is a way of life, much like having a job, raising
a family, fighting for a cause, or any one of numerous
raison d'etre. What makes Taekwondo different from these
is that it is an activity for survival in extremely antagonistic
situations. One must always overcome the enemy that is
trying to cause harm. But simply winning a fight is not
enough to guarantee one's safety, because the enemy may
recuperate and attack again. Moreover, there may be many
other enemies than the one that was just defeated. One
cannot ever feel safe unless one gains permanent peace.
To attain this permanent or lasting peace, one needs unity.
This is what Taekwondo aim for. Otherwise Taekwondo would
be no different from any other street-fighting skills.
Taekwondo pursues harmonious growth and
improvements of life through its unique activities. This
is why one could say Taekwondo is a way of life. To ultimately
enable ourselves to lead more valuable lives, we would
do well by finding the guiding principles deeply hidden