Monday, August 23, 2010

Taekwondo - Path to Peace

Taekwondo's Pathway to Peace

The students journey in Taekwondo begins with respect.  A student enters the Dojang (Taekwondo Gym) and learns the first lesson - the bow.  The bow is a symbol of humility and expression of honor and respect.  It is a gesture of courtesy offered on entering or leaving the school, beginning or ending a class, the flags and to senior ranks - especially the SaBomNim (Master Instructor). 

There are no short cuts to take nor magic pills one can buy in the traditional Dojang.
The student often enters the Dojang thinking they are beginning a journey up the color belt ranks to the coveted Black Belt.  Soon, they find that Taekwondo's journey begins inside of them as they put on their first uniform and white belt.  
The Dobok (uniform) and Di (belt) are symbols of innocence and sign of humility - everyone is equal.  Merit is the only currency in the Dojang.  Here, everything must be earned through effort, sincerity, attitude and rectitude. 

The student must then memorize and then recite the Tenets before each class.  As maturity is developed the students eyes begin to open to the lesson that Taekwondo is a path of peace to understand our ourselves, overcome fears, insecurities and doubts.

The Tenets hold Taekwondoists to a higher standard of conduct in daily life.  It is through the disciplined training that students confront those challenges, learn to apply the age old wisdom of the Taekwondo Tenets.

While some come in to learn how to fight, they soon discover that our greatest opponent is within us.  The Taekwondo Dojang is where we fight for inner peace.  It is through this self awareness that we develop knowledge and understanding, overcoming the impulses to resort to the use of power.  This use of power is not just in the physical sense.  It is also the abuse of power in words, harsh looks, unchecked emotions, and other ways.  

The Taekwondo student develops a greater sense of compassion.  The give and take of trading kicks and punches, experiencing and overcoming the problems and set backs, teaches lessons that go beyond the superficial.

The Dojang they find is like a family unit.  Each persons strengths and weaknesses emerge and through mutual encouragement, everyone grows.

It is the difficult and demanding training, strict rules and discipline that a student experiences a deeper empathy.  The shared experience in facing each challenge, belt, board break, practice attack, bonds students to one another, as well as the teacher.    
Ultimately, they indeed learn to physically defend themselves and can fight.  

However the subtle changes in how they conduct and carry themselves now begin to prevent the likelihood from that ever happening.  A level of modesty, humility emerges into a new kind of gentleness, without the need to prove themselves.  They carry this inner-strength in how they walk, move, talk and interact.  The mind becomes more alert to danger in ways that prior to Taekwondo it would not have.

As the student grows they develop a mild manner on the outside and incredible strength on the inside.  The experiences and lessons transcend the walls of the Dojang and effect daily life in ways they often never expected.

Taekwondo Oath
I shall observe the Tenets of Taekwondo
I shall respect my Instructors and Seniors
I shall never misuse Taekwondo
I will be a champion of Freedom and Justice
I will build a more Peaceful World

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