Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Traditional taekwondo is a grand mosaic composed of many elements. Some of these elements may initially appear foreign to the Western mind. Bowing, use of Korean phrases, meditation and Ki development exercises, all fall into this category. The respect demonstrated towards seniors, regardless of age, as dictated by Confucian philosophy, also often confounds those unfamiliar with the art. Yet, recognition of the wisdom attained by an Instructor, Master or Grandmaster, is a fundamental prerequisite to the achievement of excellence on the path of taekwondo. Long ago, questioning an instructor during class was unheard of. Techniques were taught through example; the block, kick or strike was demonstrated by the teacher and the student mimicked it until proficient. No longer. Today, students frequently require in-depth explanations which may actually detract from the learning experience. While I do not necessarily condone blind adherence to cultural eccentricities, I do believe that, as is the case with my teacher Grandmaster Richard Chun, that the student must take suggestions coupled with technical transmission at face value knowing that, at some point, enlightenment will follow. This invariably requires humility and trust towards the teacher. What other components of traditional taekwondo can you add that require unquestionable trust? Do you agree that the inculcation of traditional taekwondo philosophy is largely predicated on an acceptance of Asian thought? I look forward to your frank and provocative comments!

1 comment:

  1. If you choose to study traditional martial arts, then some acceptance of Asian traditions and cultural practices is desirable. I believe that some adherence to Asian cultural practices gives flavor and meaning to our traditional art.
    There should always be a high level of trust between student and teacher. As students we seek the knowledge that our teacher has to offer. We choose this path. Our teacher chooses to share his knowledge with us. Trust must go both ways. If not, there is no true transmission of knowledge. Non-traditional martial arts may be a very valuable learning experience and might be a practical means of self defense or a good way to stay in shape. However, those of us who have chosen to study traditional arts know that the knowledge being passed down to us comes from centuries of experience, tested and refined over time.