Taekwon-Do is a form of martial art. It was developed by General Choi Hong Hi in Korea. The name was adopted on April 11, 1955, by a
committee chaired by General Choi Hong
Hi. Originally, the name was written in three words: “Tae Kwon Do”.
What is the meaning of the words “Tae”, “Kwon” and “Do”’?
According to a literal translation provided by General Choi Hong Hi in the Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do (volume 1, page 21),
Therefore, taken collectively and literally, “Taekwon-Do” means “the way of the foot and the hand”. In the Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do (volume 1, page 21), General Choi defines “Taekwon-Do” as the mental training and the techniques of unarmed combat for self-defence as well as health, involving the skilled application of punches, kicks, blocks and dodges with bare hands and feet to the rapid destruction of the moving opponent or opponents
Since 1972, the name is written as follows: “Taekwon-Do”. General Choi explained that the change was made to highlight the need for balance between physical (“tae” and “kwon”) and mental training (“do”).
How did Taekwon-Do evolve?
As a martial art, Taekwon-Do (TKD) was originally intended as:
In his last publication, Guidebook for Moral Culture, General Choi acknowledged the need to focus as much as on the “Do” as on the techniques in teaching TKD. In this book, he expressed the wish that the next generation addresses this issue.
How will you fulfill General Choi’s wish?
In order to do so, I am taking the lead in the ITF to develop the full potential of TKD by focusing on all four facets of TKD:
What is the meaning of the word “Do”?
The term “Do” comes from the Chinese word “Dao”, which means “the road”, “the way”.
We could say that a person’s life is like a road that he has to travel. On this road, he meets various challenges and has to make many decisions. Using mental training, including training in moral culture, he can identify the principles that will guide him in his efforts to develop qualities and positive behaviours. This will definitely lead him to the ultimate goal of life, which is to have happiness in life.
Is there a simple definition of the “Do”?
We could define the “Do” as “the way to become a better person and have a happier life”.
What is the role of the “Master” in TKD?
Of course, that person needs guidance or he could get lost. In Chinese culture, the guide was called “Si-Fu”, which means “Master””.
So the role of the Master is to guide his students to follow the right road. As the guide, the Master’s responsibility is enormous. This responsibility is shared between the TKD school, the education or work environment, and the family environment.
The Master was so important in Chinese culture that Confucius, a great Chinese philosopher and teacher in the 5th Century B.C., put the Master below the King but above the Father in the hierarchy of authority in society.
Therefore, it is important to understand that the role of ITF TKD teachers is not limited to teaching a technical program. The evaluation of the promotion should also be based also on the application of the philosophy, the tenets and student’s oath in ITF TKD.
There is an oriental proverb: “The animal that dies leaves behind its skin, but the human who dies leaves behind him his name“. That is why ITF teachers should honour the realizations by their students of projects beneficial to society because it should be ultimate goal for ITF members.
Where does the “Do” come from?
General Choi’s philosophy as expressed in his Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do and his guidebook on moral culture shows us that he was very much influenced by Confucius while he was developing the Tenets of TKD and the Student’s Oath.
How can we learn the “Do”?
We need to understand the purpose of life, which is to search for happiness.
To begin, we need to take care of the fundamental human needs: food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. However, there is no guarantee that it will make us happy, even with abundance of money or high position in society.
Real happiness is possible only when you live in harmony with yourself and your environment, finding internal peace. To do this, you need to believe in a value system that will help you discern the difference between good and bad, right and wrong.
There are two interesting books that explain these principles, which are in agreement with the moral culture promoted by TKD., They are accessible to everyone.
Here are some key words to reflect on in your search for happiness: truth, respect, humility, generosity, tolerance, harmony, balance, peace, justice, freedom, compassion.
How can we teach the “Do”?
We have the philosophy and the tools as developed by our Founder, General Choi Hong Hi. Now we have to adapt the tools to the age we live in.
The basic tenets of TKD – courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance and indomitable spirit – are the distillation of universal values. We need to teach them progressively, according to the student’s level and avoid narrow interpretations.
For example, “courtesy” can be defined as “refined politeness”. We can start by teaching our students to show mutual respect by learning how to bow and how to listen. We need to encourage our students to apply everything they learn in their everyday life. We can further explore the tenet of “courtesy” by teaching them about kindness and politeness, modesty, then gratitude and the importance of loyalty followed by helpfulness, generosity, and compassion.
Of course, it is essential that the teacher always set a good example. We cannot teach our students to “do as I say, not as I do”. By using examples and telling anecdotes to illustrate philosophical and moral concepts, we will help our students to understand better and to remember what we teach them.
We should not forget to warn our students about the dangers of misinterpretation. For example, “loyalty”, defined as “gratitude to a person, organization, or cause”, is an important component of “courtesy“. However, “blind loyalty” can lead to unhappiness. Therefore, if we witness what seems to be an abuse of loyalty, we must rely on our value system to help us make the right decision about the proper attitude and actions to take. And, of course, we should always act respectfully.
Here are some key words and thoughts about the other basic tenets of Taekwon-Do:
In order to ensure the integration of the above moral values of TKD, we need to evaluate ourselves periodically in terms of how we have complied with each tenet of TKD by going over what we have done during the last period. We need to analyze each situation and correct the wrong behaviour or attitude for the future. Good compliance with the tenets of TKD should to be brought to the attention of others as modelling of good behaviour can have positive influence on others. By using this method, we will become better citizen and we will contribute to building a better society where peace, justice and freedom will prevail.
What is in the future for ITF teachers?
The teaching of the “Do” is a priority objective for the ITF. Since last year, we have integrated the introduction to the teaching of the “Do” in the program of the ITF International Instructor Courses. A well-structured program with objectives for each level, powerful tools, and training for teachers (Grand Masters, Masters and Instructors) at all levels should be ready for early 2005.
Why the emphasis on the “Do” now?
D could be included in after-school programs with valuable content produced by the ITF.
The philosophy of Taekwon-Do can be summed by using the last two statements of the ITF Student’s Oath:
By practicing ITF TKD and living in accordance with its fundamental values, we will become good citizens and be able to help build a better world.
I trust that the above explanations will convince all of you of the importance of teaching the “Do”. I expect all ITF instructors to act energetically and without delay to include mental and moral training in their teaching program.
I believe very strongly that, by teaching the “Do”, we will accomplish our mission as the “guide” helping our students to live up their oath and to develop into good citizens who will help improve the society they live in.
Written at Bathinda City, State of Punjab, northern part of India
April 11, 2004
Grandmaster Trân Trieu Quân