Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Value of Traditional Taekwondo Training

by Chosun student Julie Cheshire
Belt Promotion Test essay - May 17, 2015

     Traditional taekwondo training focuses on self-defense and “the way” of living a life of virtue. It is in traditional taekwondo that my interest lies.  While I respect the competitive sport of Olympic Taekwondo, it is the traditional martial art that I seek for myself and my children.
      The traditional art includes il su siks and ho sin sools, essential self-defense movements. These are empowering moves that if studied, provide practical ways to save yourself and others from a violent attack. The mere knowledge of these moves provides confidence and power within.  This internal strength can be enough of a force to prevent an attack from happening in the first place.

      Internal strength results not only from knowledge of moves, but also in an understanding of “ki”. Ki development is another focus of traditional taekwondo that enables students to tap into and harvest their internal energy.  While this is a new concept for me, I have experience firsthand how using techniques to harvest its power enable me to perform my breaks successfully.
      It is this focus on the internal that attracted me to taekwondo in the first place. The five tenets provide virtues that will prepare my children to become successful and benevolent. For adults, revisiting the tenets helps focus our daily lives and provides the inner strength to incorporate them. The tenets are not merely recited, they are experienced and promoted through example and lessons at Chosun.  Newcomers are welcomed, patience is extended, and children are expected to treat each other kindly.  Many sports focus on character development, but one is hard pressed to find a sport that emphasizes character development to the same degree I have experienced at Chosun.  Athleticism is nothing without strong character.  In fact, it can be dangerous, especially when a student has become proficient in defense skills.
     Meditation is another traditional component that I find invaluable.  While I still feel like a newcomer to meditation, I have improved. Western cultures have begun embracing meditation for its benefits for health and mind.  Quieting the mind has never been an easy task for me.  My mind is awash with responsibilities and concerns.  Ironically, using time to quiet the mind is often more constructive than trying to get ahead (or catch up) with thoughts of productivity.
     Traditional and sport taekwondo are two separate but related practices, both worthy exercises. However, traditional taekwondo is the only one that meets my personal and parental goals. I have little interest in competitive sport. I find value in the focus on “the way” set forth by the guiding principles, ki development and meditation.  I find value in the empowerment that self defense furnishes. It is the traditional aspects of taekwondo that I value most.


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