I. THE NATURE OF TAEKWONDO: The nature of Taekwondo is founded on two fundamental aspects: Practical value and ideological value. The practical value of Taekwondo is found in the elemental movements of each technique and in the principles governing those movements. The ideological value of Taekwondo is found in the three ideals which form the identity of Taekwondo: the technical ideal, artistic ideal, and the philosophic ideal. Further, modern Taekwondo is a method of Physical Education and a system of competition.

1. The Technical Ideology of Taekwondo: The technical expression of Taekwondo originally derived its values from the practical aspects of training. Bare-hand self-defense and physical exercise for health were the basic practical benefits of Taekwondo. Therefore, the technical Ideal of Taekwondo was seen as the practical application of training and techniques to human living conditions. Even as an awareness of Taekwondo's other ideals emerge, the technical remains an essential element of Taekwondo training. The technical ideal, then, is embodied in the word "Musul" which describes its practical values.

2. The Artistic Ideology of Taekwondo: Art arises from a state of mind and soul in union and is expressed through an action consistent with that union. When one devotes mind and soul to the refinement of Taekwondo skill, a sensation of exquisite achievement can be realized outside of the practical consideration of technical development. The sublimation of practical concerns into the desire to develop, complete, and perfect Taekwondo skills is the concept of "Muyeh," the artistic ideal of immersion of soul and body for the sake of perfection of action.

3. The Philosophic Ideology of Taekwondo: The concept of "Do" is the central metaphysical concept which covers the entire realm of oriental philosophy. The philosophic ideal of Taekwondo training is the realization of the relationship between man and nature, of the universe as discovered through practicing, and how to live in harmony with that universe. This is the essence of "Mudo." A narrow sense of normative concepts such as "courtesy" and "sense of honor" have little to do with Taekwondo's philosophic ideal. Nor is this ideal found in technical values such as Poomse or the concept of a "deathblow." The philosophic ideal is moving away from an introverted mind toward an extroverted mind.

4. The Nature of Taekwondo as Physical Education: Physical education is the systemized attempt to Integrate man's intelligence, emotion, and will through physical action. Taekwondo's technical, artistic, and philosophic ideology abound with educational values. Developing the physical body is the domain of technique, developing a concentrated spirit is the domain of art, and achieving a harmony between mind and body as well as understanding and cooperation with nature is the realm of Taekwondo philosophy. The philosophic objective of perfecting the human being through Taekwondo is a methodology of physical education's principles. Taekwondo has not been altered or exploited as a "new," modern form of physical training, but, instead, has always embodied the values of physical education. The essential values of Taekwondo, which begin to be formed through the technical ideal at the inception of training, and which come to maturity at the philosophic or "Do" stage, correspond with the nature of physical education, which exists to develop an ideal human being through physical training regime.

5. The Nature of Taekwondo as a Competition: Competitions of strength are an expression of man's natural instincts. Historically, competitions of strength between men have been the most common of all competition patterns. The nature of Taekwondo's development as a form of competition has been that of a competition of strength which relies on skill for its proper expression. Man naturally desires to prove that he is superior to his opponent in competition. This desire combined with the resultant values derived from sincere efforts to develop technically and the human interaction of training and competitive confrontation, all shape the Taekwondo competition. These experiences and lessons, together with other factors such as sportsmanship, i.e., human responsibility, as well as pleasure and recognition, have led to the development if the concept of Taekwondo competition. Historically, Taekwondo developed as a "Hoe" or game. Therefore, Taekwondo as a martial art has an historical relationship with values of competition. The competitive Ideals of Taekwondo are power, quickness, and accuracy. The embodiment of these ideals in the training and competition process gives Taekwondo its unique identity as a modem sport.


1. Motives in Initiating Taekwondo Training: The initial motives for entering into Taekwondo training usually lie in desires to maintain or improve health, or self-protection. Yet other motives often expressed are the desire to cultivate the spirit, develop beautiful technique, or experience the pleasure of participation. These motives are expressions of desires arrived at from a lack of deep understanding as to the essential values of Taekwondo. As training progresses, the more sublime values of Taekwondo become gradually more apparent, finally fusing into strongly held, comprehensive goal.

2. The Objectives of Taekwondo Training: The objectives of training can be thought of the same the values one wishes to attain through training. Individuals bring any number of objectives to the training hall, some more specific than others. Some of these common values are: bodily health, mental health, a method of self-protection, and development of a life philosophy applicable to everyday living. However, such individual purposes are somewhat expressive of a superficial concept of Taekwondo. A much deeper concept exists beneath the surface of these initial objectives. A more comprehensive analysis of the objectives of Taekwondo training can bring one to believe that Taekwondo can change one's life.


1. Process of Internal Formation: Taekwondo spirit is formed directly from training, and is referred to as the internal formation process. This process can be further sub-divided into two dynamics: formation during the course training and spirit formed as the result of practice.

A. Formation during the course of practice: Proper training requires total immersion in the training process. For this, one needs powerful concentration requiring an integrated mind, perseverance to challenge personal physical limitations, self-restraint to overcome the frustration of struggling with one's self, and courage to overcome fear of confrontation. All these characteristics help to form and cultivate the human will and spirit through the training process. Gradually, through the long process of training, the practitioner's mind becomes strong, broad and profound.

B. Formation reflected in the result of training: The training process is life-long. After consistent training for a given period of time, however, man can achieve a certain level of proficiency in the basic techniques. The acquisition of real ability in Taekwondo techniques can bring about real change in man's mind. With the physical changes and technical improvement brought about as a result of training, man can feel at case and broad-minded in viewing his surroundings. This power, plus the power to command one's surroundings through a powerful will and spirit acquired through training, provide the foundation on which develop an altruistic man. In other words, this is the process of forming an active, positive spirit with which to command the environment instead of being overwhelmed by it.

2. Process of External Formation: The process of internal formation of spirit either during the course of training or as a result of training, tends to be extremely subjective. Therefore, it is possible that the formation of spirit will be one-sided or even distorted. This is where a process of external adjustment or discipline is needed. Taekwondo training is not a process of subjective learning carried out in an isolated environment. The guidance of a qualified leader along with the influence of the traditions and disciplines of the gymnasium, practice arena, and senior and junior training partner relationships help give a positive direction to the trainee. In addition, it becomes possible for the trainee to perceive the value system of moral philosophy that Taekwondo has established through its long history, and he comes to learn how to apply it to his own life. This is the nature of oriental martial morality found specifically in Taekwondo.


1. The Meaning of Taekwondo Spirit: Spirit and mind are two words often confused in usage because of their similarity. However, spirit refers to the immaterial intelligence, which systematically establishes human thinking on the basis of value. Therefore Taekwondo spirit means the Taekwondo man's systematic thought process in regarding values established through Taekwondo training. When one reaches an improved ability to perceive the relative merit of things and act effectively and decisively as a result of training, then it can be said that Taekwondo spirit has been, to some extent, established and embodied. Not until a behavioral and moral philosophy have been established as a consequence of internal assimilation of the three dimensions of Taekwondo ideology, i.e., technical, artistic, and philosophical, can it be said that a comprehensive Taekwondo spirit has been established.

2. Technique and Spirit: Technique is the starting point as well as the ultimate goal of Taekwondo. All the intrinsic values of Taekwondo arise from technique and exist at any stage of development within and because of technique. Taekwondo spirit, therefore, starts with technique, develops itself within technique and arrives at perfection through technique. As one trains in a series of techniques which develop progressively from basic movements, Poomse and Gyoroogi to higher levels, spirit is likewise developed progressively and in concrete stages. The determinant in Taekwondo training Is called the reactive motion. Man, existing in a certain environment, is influenced by that environment and, in turn, acts against that environment. The medium through which each influence the other is the reactive motion. Practice of Taekwondo goes from reactive training in a primary field or environment in which an opponent is initially encountered, through a broader field in which the opponent is engaged, to the final field in which an absolute and infinite awareness of the environment is attained by transcending the opponent's awareness of the environment. If that awareness can be reached, no gap will exist between the state of an individual's internal consciousness and that of the external environment, and it would become possible for the individual to control and adjust the internal and external fields subjectively. This type of development of the spirit is accomplished by pure immersion of spirit into a technique and through the experiences and awakening within that technique. During fierce Gyoroogi or other confrontations, one's composure is not lost. The self and the opponent are both deeply and calmly viewed within the mind, action is neither feared nor avoided, all external concerns about result or outcome are discarded.

V. PUTTING TAEKWONDO SPIRIT INTO PRACTICE: Taekwondo spirit refers to the mental frame of the ideal human being which Taekwondo training seeks to develop. It is a mental image of the ideal Taekwondoist which the trainee carries. When the three dimensions of Taekwondo, i.e. technique, art, philosophy are integrated holistically to form another dimension of human personality, it is seen as the beginning of actualizing Taekwondo spirit. Taekwondo has a system of value built around two axes; martialism and morality or "Do." Taekwondo cultivates the spirit's energy through the rituals of training and through "Do" and attempts to integrate them into one. The product of that union is called "Chong" or propriety. Contained in this concept is the "Chong" referring to a clean heart and "Chong". referring to intrepidity, and finally "Chong' of restraint. Ultimately, then, Taekwondo in the form of education, sport, or human personification (or "Do") seeks a practical philosophy based on a martial morality which gives man a way to think and act with propriety and be recognized as an intrepid, altruistic human being.

Copyright:United States Taekwondo Union (USTU)