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Tae Kwon Do

I (Dan Woolman, author of this piece) was first exposed to the art form when I was 12 years old. I developed my physical skills and abilities through the ranks from white belt to black belt. However, it wasn't until I had been involved in martial arts for many years that I came to realize that my personality and overall demeanor begun to change. I have been practicing Tae Kwon Do everyday for 33 years and I have come to recognize many things that simply transcend the dogma associated with modern physics.

The guiding principles of Tae Kwon Do were based on the Five codes of Human Conduct, as established by the Buddhist scholar Wonkang. These codes are:

Be loyal to your country

Be obedient to your parents

Be trustworthy to your friends

Never retreat in battle

Never make an in just kill

These five codes of moral behavior and conduct are reflected in the so-called eleven commandments of modern Tae Kwon Do:

Loyalty to your country

Respect your parents

Faithfulness to your spouse

Respect your brothers and sisters

Loyalty your friends

Respect your elders

Respect your teachers

Never take life unjustly

Indomitable spirit

Loyalty to your school

Finish what you begin

Although the literal translation on Tae Kwon Do is "the art of kicking and punching", (Tae means "to kick", Kwon means "to punch" and Do means "art") this is no more than a superficial translation. Do in Korean implies the philosophical approach to a way of life, a pathway to achieve enlightenment. The students of Tae Kwon Do, through rigorous physical training, intend to improve themselves physically, mentally and spiritually.

The true Tae Kwon Do practitioner extends this art to all aspects of life, in order to achieve harmony with nature and thus a stable and peaceful existence. Tae Kwon Do is not only an excellent method of self defense, but a way of life. These qualities can be traced back to the influence on Buddhism, and its aim of the "Mastery of Self". Through the philosophy of Tae Kwon Do, a student can rid him or herself of the ego, and live in harmony with the universe.

At the center of this philosophy, is the concept of interaction between opposing forces in nature (Yin vs. Yang). Equilibrium is only achieved when contrary forces are distributed in equal amounts, resulting in balance and harmony. When only one force dominates, however, the result is unbalance, which could mean discord or failure.

Respect, humility and high sense of morality are also important teachings that all of those who practice Tae Kwon Do should learn. Respect could never be overstressed, because it is respect that maintains the healthy master-student relationship. If the student does not respect his master, he will never become worthy of the masters trust, and therefore his presence in the Dojang will not be welcomed. Respect is an important subject in Tae Kwon Do. Respect is expected from all students toward their parents, their nation, their master and fellow students, and in general toward all human beings.

Humility is a quality that all serious Tae Kwon Do students should possess. Although it is true that practicing the art of Tae kwon Do boosts your self-confidence, this should not convey the false sense of superiority. On the contrary, the good student should be humble and considerate. In the same way, the highest regard for morality and ethics should be observed by all Tae Kwon Do practitioners.


Thoughts lead on to purposes;

Purposes go forth in action;

Actions form habits;

Habits decide character;

And character fixes our destiny.

--Tryon Edwards (1809-94), Writer, author

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