United States Taekwondo Association
Philosophy of Taekwondo
The philosophy of martial arts as applied in Taekwondo is based on the unity of spirit with physical action. In order to effectively act as a natural weapon in a given moment, the body's muscles and joints must be trained to coordinate movement. However, the development of the body and the coordination of Taekwondo techniques are not fully effective unless they occur in conjunction with the training of moral character, kindness, self-discipline, patience, forgiveness, and humility.
Thus, meditation is practiced to unify the body and mind; thoughts are clarified and actions made more efficient. Knowing (that is, understanding that the individual is complete within) provides the ability to act confidently. Concentration also contributes toward achieving optimum performance; as does a sense of calm and determination which overcomes distraction and troubled perception. Life is enriched.
The application of yin and yang principles further allows certain areas of the body to be utilized to their maximum potential. The yin and yang, or the soft and hard areas of the body, are trained to react with speed and agility in appropriate ways. The soft areas of the body for instance, are pliable and are not used to resist attack. They are used to allow the opponent to be carried off balance. The hard areas of the body, being resistant, are used to fend off the attacker. When applied correctly, the principles of yin and yang place the opponent at a disadvantage.
The individual must realize that to defend one's life means also to risk losing it. By accepting such a likelihood, fear will not cause distraction. The trained mind and body acting in unison is like intuitive reflex. The body's response is synchronized with perception.
Taekwondo is a combination of a state of mind working in unison with a trained body. When kindness and humility accompany physical grace the use of tae kwon do becomes an art. Unlike the Western idea of technique and proficiency in skills as the ultimate goal in defensive development, the Eastern idea goes beyond such limits and incorporates martial art as a way of being one with the world. Consciously living in harmonious unison with all there is around you on a daily basis is the philosophy of Taekwondo in action, not the use of the body as a destructive tool for wanton purposes. What is learned in Taekwondo is the ability to distinguish necessary from unnecessary antagonisms in the cause of self preservation, not the wasting of energies in fear and destruction.
The individual overcomes his lack of faith in himself through the development of bodily skills and natural strengths in conjunction with a sense of oneness; and the ultimate goal, to live, is achieved.