Where does morality fit in with Taekwondo?
Is there an ethically right way of kicking someone?!
Why 'Good' people should be good at hitting 'Bad' people
I've lost count of how many times have I heard people say things to me like:
"I'm a good person, I would never hit anybody"
"I would never resort to violence, i'd always talk my way out of trouble"
"I'd turn the other cheek, resisting would only make them more angry"
"I'd just give them whatever they wanted, then they'd leave me alone" . . . etc . . .
It's very easy to say these kind of things when it's all theory and there's no actual threat of violence against you. Of course if you can get out of trouble by talking or giving up some material possessions then great, that's you out of harms way and a 'win' if you ask me.
But what if what they want is to hurt you or a loved one? What if they want to rape you or a loved one? What if they are on drugs or dangerously mentally ill and they're not thinking, they're just lashing out. What if turning the other cheek means your death?
The fact is that no-one ever just lets themselves be beaten to death or raped. We always resist, we always try to protect our family and friends, that's our nature and all the self-righteous talk evaporates when put to the test.
What are the differences between 'Good' and 'Bad' people?
Good people will stop hitting an opponent who is no longer a threat, 'Bad' people will stop when they feel like it.
'Good' people don't start fights or attack someone who isn't a threat, 'Bad' people do.
'Good' people will use their physical abilities responsibly, 'Bad' people will abuse any physical superiority for gain or fun.
'Good' people want to help and protect, 'Bad' people want to harm and exploit.
I believe that 'Good' people have a moral duty to learn to use their fists and feet effectively because the world is a better place when 'Good' people win and 'Bad' people are defeated. All too often when a 'Bad' person wins there is one less 'Good' person in the world as a result.
Taekwondo and virtue
Taekwondo is for self-defence which means that you use it only against an attacker who intends to cause serious harm and only for as long as that attacker is a threat - Taekwondo is not for when you want to get your own way!
In terms of personal conduct Taekwondo has 'Five Tenets' (or virtues) to which every taekwondo practitioner should aspire.
The Five Tenets are the first things you will be taught on the theory side of Taekwondo, knowing and being mindful of them will not only help you to be a better student but also a better person! This page contains brief explanations, the official definitions can be found in the student licence booklet that all new students receive when the licencing process is complete.
The Five Tenets of Taekwondo are:
While being polite is an important part of Courtesy, it is also important to have respect and consideration for others: for their needs, feelings and your committments and responsibilities to them.
Integrity is about knowing right from wrong and always trying to do what is right. It is also includes feeling guilt about doing wrong and trying to make amends.
Vital to Taekwondo training and to any other worthwhile endeavour, Perseverance is not giving up on something just because it is difficult or will take time. Nothing really worth doing or having ever comes quickly and easily!
Self Control refers to mental, emotional and physical restraint: Mental Self Control is important for focussing on a goal or target and for learning. Emotional Self Control can prevent the vast majority of conflicts or the escalation of a conflict into violence. Physical Self Control is important for coordinated and precise actions and for using the right amount of force in a technique - full power is not always appropriate!
Indomitable Spirit is a refusal to be dominated or to give up when confronted by overwhelming odds, when faced with a seemingly impossible task or an unbeatable opponent. It is the act of knowing you cannot win but giving it your best anyway.
The 'club attitude'
In our club we try to promote the Five Tenets of Taekwondo as much as possible, but we also try to culivate the right 'club attitude' - something which makes us better students and better able to grow and improve.
Everyone moves at their own speed.
Both physically and in Taekwondo we are all different and all move at different speeds. No-one is ever a 'bad student' for making mistakes or taking time to learn something new. Gradings are regularly available, but no-one is ever obliged to take them and no-one is thought less of for deciding to put in some more work before attempting their next grading.
Attitude is everything.
Our attitude towards our training and to those around us dominates our progress and development much more than our physical state or natural talent, and it is much more directly under our control to shape or change. Where the mind leads the body will follow, so a student with a good attitude is always a good student and a good representative of Taekwondo.
If you know it all, you know nothing.
No matter how long you study Taekwondo, or anything for that matter, you will never be 'perfect'. The moment you decide you know it all is the moment you make it impossible to learn anything more. Even the most experienced Instructor is still a student and can gain new insights and experiences from others, young or old, junior or senior.