Martial arts, first and foremost, is for self-development. Understanding and mastery of the self, to see oneself with eyes unclouded and endlessly improve, should be the everlasting goal of a martial artist. This is an admirable goal, but one that requires a tremendous amount of discipline.
Tenets of Taekwondo
The Tenets of Taekwondo are virtues that every martial artist should honor. They are the foundation of the Taekwondo mentality and each student should do their best to hold themselves to these standards both inside and outside the training hall.
Courtesy – Yahee – Being considerate and polite in manners and behavior
Integrity – Gumson – Having a soundness of moral character, and being worthy of trust
Self-Control – Cookgee – Exercising mastery over personal conduct, and over physical and emotional reactions
Perseverance – Inae – Being resolved to a purpose and to continue a course of action despite all difficulties
Indomitable Spirit – Bakjulbulkool – Exhibiting a vitality and sense of self that can never be tarnished, subdued, or overcome
Regulations of the Hwarang Do
The Hwarang Do, or “The way of the flowering youth” was a system of education, teaching martial arts as well as other arts such as music, dance, and poetry. The five regulations were developed by the monk Won Kwang to provide an ethical guide for the Hwarang Do.
Loyalty to Country – Sa Kun Ii Choong – Being a true patriot and supporter of the ideals of the country which shelters you
Loyalty to Family – Sa Chin Ii Hyo – Being true to you parents and teachers, brothers and sisters, in training and out
Trust and Brotherhood Among Friends – Kyo Woo Ii Shin – Fostering a sense of kinship and trust, knowing your friends will support you as you would support them
Courage to Never Surrender on the Battlefield – Im Jeon Moo Tae – Being determined to never give up, regardless of the battlefield or the odds
Justice to Never Take a Life Without Cause – Sal Saeng Yoo Teak – Having the compassion and understanding to abstain from taking a life except at the utmost need
A Brief History of Taekwondo
In the 6th century, Korea was divided into three dynasties; Koguryeo, Baekje and Silla. Koguryeo was larger than the other two combined, and consisted of the entire northern portion of the peninsula. Between Baekje and Silla, Baekje was the larger, and took over half of the remaining peninsula, dominating the southwest. Silla, the smallest of the three, owned the southeast, and the area where can be found modern day Busan and Daegu. Silla’s capitol was Seorabeol, which is modern day Gyeongju.
A Silla emperor, Jin Heung, was foresighted and always looking for ways to keep his kingdom secure next to the two larger forces of Baekje and Koguryeo. The emperor decided to develop an existing group, called the Hwarang, into a class of elite warriors, which would follow the Hwarang Do (“the way of the flowering youth”). To assist with this, he contracted a Korean monk who had studied in China, named Won Kwang, to develop a system of fighting based on the present techniques, and a set of ethics to guide it. In addition to martial art, the Hwarang also learned other arts such as music, dance, and poetry.
The Hwarang Do was based on a foundation of the indigenous forms of Korean martial arts including the type of wrestling called ssireum, and the more formalized system called Subak, which was practiced by the Koguryeo military. Won Kwang introduced fighting techniques learned in China, as well as buddhist philosophies, and developed the moral code Sae Sok O Gye, the five regulations of the Hwarang Do.
Later, Korean martial arts diverged into two inextricably interwoven systems, Taekkyeon and Yusul. These are the systems that lived on through the underground during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Korean martial arts at this time traded techniques and ideologies from Japanese martial arts and Chinese martial arts, which were both present during this era; the Japanese trying to dominate Korea, and the Chinese offering assistance to Korean liberation efforts.
After the end of World War II, when the Japanese occupation of Korea ended, a number of martial arts clans, called kwans, appeared; there were five original clans and four derivitive clans, and they established training halls across Korea. The Korean government asked for the consolidation and unification of the kwans under central leadership. The Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA) was formed to facilitate this.
The KTA suffered an internal split, with members founding two major organizations that contended for recognition from the Korean government; the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). The ITF was eventually spurned by the South Korean government, and shortly thereafter the Kukkiwon was established as the world Taekwondo headquarters. The ITF relocated to North Korea while the WTF became the governing body for Taekwondo competition.
The major clans, as they stand today, consist of the original five kwans and four derivative kwans: Chang Moo Kwan, Chung Do Kwan, Jidokwan, Moo Duk Kwan and Song Moo Kwan; Jung Do Kwan (from Chung Do Kwan), Kang Duk Kwan (from Chang Moo Kwan), O Do Kwan (also from Chung Do Kwan) and Song Do Kwan (from Jidokwan).