The Tenets of Tae Kwon Do
The dictionary says that a tenet
is a principle, belief or doctrine generally held to be true and that it
is held in common by members of a group or organization. I certainly
can’t argue with that definition, although when I first started practicing
Tae Kwon Do, I have to admit I thought much less of what they meant than
I do now. I also believe that they will mean something more to me than
what they do now the longer I study Tae Kwon Do.
The first time I heard the Tenets in class, I assumed that these were recited simply in an effort to temper what we were learning in Tae Kwon Do. The techniques we learn can be used in harmful and destructive ways, and the tenets were a way to remind students that they (to put in it the most basic of terms) should be careful. While I think that is still true, I’ve come to understand that the tenets are much more than a way to diminish what we learn. I think that by studying Tae Kwon Do we inevitably begin to live the tenets.
To begin with, the very act of practicing, learning something new and repeating it again and again and again is the very nature of perseverance. And there is always something new to learn; the more I study the more I realize I need to learn. I’m only beginning to realize how difficult mastering a front punch and front stance really is.
Self-control is an essential part of training. Unless you learn to control your body you can’t really learn the techniques at all. You can’t really learn to punch or kick without learning when and where to punch and kick. And you can’t do that without self-control.
Out of perseverance and self-control I believe grow the other tenets. While self-control and perseverance are things that are focused on the individual, courtesy and integrity I think of as related to each other and somewhat directed toward other people, especially other people with whom you train. When training in Tae Kwon Do you have an obligation to help others in their training, especially those of lower rank You always need to consider the other person and act consistently in a way to encourage their learning and foster their trust in you.
Finally, I believe that by practicing Tae Kwon Do, learning the tenets, integrating them into your training will begin to build an indomitable spirit. It begins to matter less and less whether you can actually do a perfect front kick, what matters most is how you continue to learn it. Once you understand that success is in the trying and growing and learning, your spirit can’t help but begin to become strong and determined.