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Student tenets


Tenets are principles, beliefs, or doctrines that are generally held to be true; especially ones held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession. Many martial arts have tenets as a guide for student behavior.

Taekwondo tenets

The tenets of taekwondo are based on the principles of hwarangdo. Taekwondo philosophy may be best summarized by the philosophy of hongik-ingan: peace loving, having a spirit of integrity, protecting righteousness, and having a strong sense of responsibility.

These tenets are usually repeated at the start of a training class. This reciting of the tenets is supposed to cause students to think about the tenets during their training. However, although they recite them at every class, most students do not know what the tenets really mean, they just repeat the words.

To become true students of taekwondo, students must incorporate these tenets into their training and their lives. If we understand taekwondo according to these principles; when faced with a problem, we find a solution, and by continuously improving our skills, we will avoid ever being faced with the same problem again. By understanding these philosophical principles, we may find ways to understand and increase the quality of our lives. The following are some basic tenets; however, some schools may differ in the tenets they use.

Basic tenets of taekwondo

Courtesy: Ye-ui

Courtesy promotes mutual understanding, harmony, peacefulness, humbleness, cooperation, respect, and a sense of justice. Courtesy may be displayed as:
  • Politeness. Say please and thank you, open/hold doors for others, or ask instead of telling.
  • Respect. The ways we speak or act with respect toward our seniors, elders, or teachers and the care and concern we show toward our juniors.
  • Consideration of others. Be aware of how others think and feel and treat others with kindness and compassion.
  • Compliment/honor others. Recognize good in others and acknowledge their actions or thoughts.
  • Indulgence. Ignore a slight, a meanness, or an unimportant mistake or error.
  • Deference. Allow another person to go first because it will be helpful, kind, or respectful to that person.
  • Generosity. Give or make something available to someone out of kindness.

Integrity: Yom-chi

Integrity is living according to principle. In taekwondo, we must be able to determine right from wrong, have a conscience, and always do the right thing. We must always seek to integrate our thoughts, feelings, and values within ourselves and with the world in which we live through consistent actions. If we demonstrate integrity in our daily interactions with others, people will learn to regard us as dependable, responsible, and honest. Maintain your integrity and live according to these principles and you cannot lose. Integrity may be displayed as:
  • Honesty. Be truthful with yourself and others.
  • Consistency. Make sure your actions match your words and stay the same on a daily basis.
  • Loyalty. Be faithful to the people and practices that are important in your life and acknowledge the positive role that people, such as family and friends, and practices, such as taekwondo, have had in your life.
  • Adherence to a standard of values. Be mindful of what is right and what is wrong and uphold the right and resist the wrong.
  • Learning from mistakes. Use your mistakes as a tool to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Perseverance: In-nae

Perseverance is the quality of being insistent, persistent, and never giving up. Success comes to those who do not give up, and it never comes to those who quit. It takes a lot of work to achieve something truly great. A large amount of personal satisfaction may be gained from the growth, mastery, and self-knowledge that come from practice and commitment to a goal. Perseverance may be displayed as:
  • Patience. Calmly proceed when things become slow or difficult.
  • Focusing on goals. Keep in mind what it is that you are trying to achieve.
  • Overcoming obstacles. Find ways to keep working toward your goal when difficult situations arise.
  • Following your convictions. Be true to what you think is right and important.

Self-control: Guk-gi

A loss of self-control may result in injury to yourself and others; you must learn to master your impulses. Your ability to get along and adapt to your environment and to recognize your capabilities is also a measure of self-control. An inability to live within your capabilities demonstrates a lack of self-control. For example, if during sparring one does has the control to punch to the opponent’s face without contact but does so anyway, it reflects a lack of self-control that could have dangerous consequences. Self-control means never having to say you are sorry. Self-control may be displayed as:
  • Restraint. The way you control your actions when upset or angry.
  • Discipline. Ability to stay consistently focused on your goals, and on the actions required to achieve those goals.
  • Self-mastery. Control over and awareness of your actions and words.
  • Discretion. Do not violate confidences or speak or act in ways that will unnecessarily hurt others.
  • Will power. Have the energy, desire, and attitude to continue a course of action even in the presence of obstacles and hardships.
  • Dignity. Keep a calm exterior in the face of adversity.

Indomitable spirit: Baekjul-boolgol

An indomitable spirit will prevail over all obstacles in life. Having an indomitable spirit means:
  • Being strong and standing up for what is just, regardless of who tells you that you are wrong or that it is a waste of time. 
  • Having the courage to always be yourself and to do what you think is right regardless of the pressures people put on you to do otherwise.
  • Having a strong spirit that is not crushed or swayed by adversity or obstacles.

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