What Does Taekwondo Teach?

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Students of taekwondo participate in a Korean martial art that leverages strict personal discipline to develop strength of body and mind. Practitioners benefit from elevated self-esteem, fortified personal health, and formidable self-defense skills. Instruction in the art also instills balanced social integration and positive distinction of moral character. The curriculum is composed of a vast library of physical movements that are introduced and cultivated under the umbrella of five fundamental tenets.

The First Tenet: Courtesy

  • Training takes place primarily within the dojang, yet practice permeates every aspect of daily life. Courtesy is instilled in students by removal of shoes upon entering a training facility and by requiring students to bow when greeting an instructor. Students are trained to focus their undivided attention upon the present moment when receiving instruction. Consistently doing so develops a student's learning capacity when attending school and his overall character when in the presence of others, especially elders.

The Second Tenet: Integrity

  • Loyalty and honesty are interwoven into the taekwondo tenet of integrity. Allegiance to family, friends, school and self are core values that become ingrained as students learn accountability for words and actions. This character trait will express itself in sparring as you learn not to telegraph your movements, overcommit on your offense, or strike another student with overt malice. Integrity is further reinforced as instructors will insist on kicks, punches and forms being executed as perfectly balanced as possible over and over again dozens of times. Shortcuts and cheating are strictly disallowed. Use of strikes for any purpose other than self-defense or the defense of others is taught to be a severe breach of integrity.

The Third Tenet: Perseverance

  • Learning proficiency and eventual mastery of roundhouse kicks, side kicks, hand strikes and complicated forms takes dedication. The physical requirements to advance as a taekwondo martial artist can present immense challenges to a person. As you find ways to overcome your limitations, you increase your chances of success outside the dojang. Attaining a college degree or master's degree, or finishing a marathon, are endeavors to which the taekwondo idea of perseverance can be applied. How to harness the will to finish what you start is something a dedicated student comes to understand.

The Fourth Tenet: Self-Control

  • A skilled martial artist can be tempted to show off or use his abilities to intervene where he should not. Taekwondo addresses this at the forefront of your tenure by requiring you to learn to exert your will to progress over your impulse to collapse. When training becomes difficult, the student must fight through discomfort to extrapolate the larger lesson: It is easier and less rewarding to give in than it is to push on. This transfers to everyday life as a student experiences the difference between lashing out at something that is frustrating and applying the patience required to gain understanding.

The Fifth Tenet: Indomitable Spirit

  • Sometimes the will of the soul can push a person onward long after all physical resources have been exhausted. The taekwondo student experiences this notion as he learns to train in spite of injury, to compete in spite of overwhelming loss, and to see past victory or defeat to the continuum of the journey of education. Students take this with them into their daily lives as they overcome death of loved ones, domestic upheaval or any of the other myriad human challenges that require inner strength in order to be met.

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