4th Dan Promotion Test – Thesis: Philosophy of Taekwondo Machado, Pedro

Abstract:
With this thesis the author, desires to contribute with relevant information about Taekwondo, maintaining the original philosophy transmitted by the great and noble Korean People. This thesis was presented in Coimbra on the 20th February 2010 during the 4th Dan promotion test that was supervised by the Master Luciano Neto, National Technical Adviser, of the Portuguese Taekwondo Federation.

Keywords:
Taekwondo, philosophy of, Korean, Poomses, Han, Taebeck, Silla, Koguryo, Paeckche, Hwa rang, Buddhism, Won Wha, Su Bak, Yu Sul, Tae Kyon.

Table of Contents
Introduction............................................................................................................................................ 3 Traditional and National Spirit .............................................................................................................. 3 History and Philosophy of Taekwondo ................................................................................................. 3 The Hwa Rang Warrior ......................................................................................................................... 4 Entrance of Buddhism in Korea ............................................................................................................ 4 The Birth of Hwa Rang.......................................................................................................................... 5 The original flower ................................................................................................................................ 5 Introduction to Hwa Rang ..................................................................................................................... 5 The training of Hwa Rang ..................................................................................................................... 6 The Code of the Hwa Rang ................................................................................................................... 7 The Martial Arts of the Hwa Rang ........................................................................................................ 7 Su Bak .............................................................................................................................................. 8 Yo Sul .............................................................................................................................................. 8 Tae Kyon ......................................................................................................................................... 9 The decline of the Hwa Rang ................................................................................................................ 9 Developing a training Philosophy ......................................................................................................... 9 Developing a Philosophy for Competition .......................................................................................... 10 The Role of Meditation in Taekwondo ................................................................................................ 10 Ki and its nature ................................................................................................................................... 11 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................... 11 References ............................................................................................................................................ 12

Revision:
Name Pedro Machado Graça Alves Nuno Semedo Acácio Gaspar Date 16/02/2010 16/02/2010 18/02/2010 20/02/2010 Reason to Modify Creation Revision of English Revision of the document Supervisor Version 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3

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Introduction
Taekwondo, the way of the foot and the fist, is a highly refined system of martial arts [2]. The students of Taekwondo can propel themselves high into the air and deliver powerful kicking techniques with an excellent accuracy. The martial art of Taekwondo is based on self-defense techniques that were developed by Korean people to defend themselves from invader countries. Taekwondo has also a “traditional” component based on stro ng basic skills, forms of poomse [3]. Korean Taekwondo is the martial art that suffered the major evolution in the history of the martial arts. Some of this evolution has come with the entrance of Taekwondo in the Olympic Games. In fact, most of the popularity of Taekwondo is a consequence of Taekwondo being an Olympic Sport. But has a student of Taekwondo I had the need to know more about Taekwondo, and with this thesis I was able to research the origin of Taekwondo and to find my own route through the Taekwondo principles.

Traditional and National Spirit
Ancestors of the Han (Korean) race had some issues caused by natural disasters and existential restrictive circumstances of life that had made a spiritual connection between the Korean people and elements of the earth like heaven, rain, cloud, sun, moon, trees, rocks etc. With this connection came the strong believe in the “Heaven’s God” and later developed into the thought of “Seon” (impeccable virtuousness). Based in those believes were the doctrines of Buddhism and Confucianism that were brought to Korea by the Chinese in the age of the three kingdoms. With these doctrines, the Koreans learned to devote themselves to the nation and society. “Korean’s traditional thought is characterized by the priority on loyalty to the country and filial piety in people’s daily life, thus making people to think first about the responsibilities before seeking any power and voluntary working justice.” [1]

History and Philosophy of Taekwondo
Taekwondo was born in a Nation that had nearly five decades of brutal occupation. Hand in Hand with this occupation came attempted systematic destruction of the Korean culture. Historic manuscripts were destroyed by the Japanese occupying forces, leaving the nation with virtually no remaining historic records detailing Korea’s ancient heritage. The Korea people were forced to speak and write in Japanese. With this occupation, the Koreans were forbidden to practice the indigenous Korean Martial Art. [2]

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The art of Taekwondo certainly takes root in man’s instincts to survive by means of protecting himself from outside threat with the bare hand fighting skills, and it was developed into systematized martial art in the times of three-kingdoms era.[1] The three kingdoms were formed by the kingdom of Silla (founded in B.C. 57), Koguryo (B.C. 37) and Paekje (B.C. 18). All of these three kingdoms shared a thought that was to unify all the Korean Peninsula. They had to defend themselves from the invader forces of foreign countries.

The Hwa Rang Warrior
The Hwa Rang came into existence during the sixth century A.D. The foundations that gave birth to this elite group of warriors can be traced to approximately 200 B.C., during the Chinese Qui Dynasty (221 – 206 B.C.). This is the point when formalized contact began between China and the Korean Peninsula. This interaction was intensified with the placement of Chinese military colonies on the Northern Korean Peninsula during the Han dynasty (200-220 B.C.). From these contacts, the Korean Peninsula began a period of fast development in agriculture, health science, military strategy, and formalized governmental statesmanship. Taoism, Confucianism, and later Buddhism were all introduced in Korea by China. [2]

Entrance of Buddhism in Korea
Buddhism entered in the Korean Peninsula state of Koguryo in A.D. 372, when the Chinese monk Sun-Do was sent from the Chinese state of Ch’in by King Fu Chein on an Official mission to introduce Buddhism to Korean Kingdom. The East Indian monk Malanandra arrived, through China, with royal escort, in the Korean state of Paekche, in A.D. 384. With the transmission of Buddhism, was born the royal and aristocratic Korean society. The kingdoms of Koguryo and Paekche had already accepted the doctrine, but the kingdom of Silla didn’t accept at first, the doctrine. In the beginning, the Kingdom of Silla had the Confucian aristocratic ideology. In fact, the attempts to introducing Buddhism were met with some hostility. The monk A-do, Buddhist, had some success in the introduction of Buddhism in the Kingdom of Silla at the 5th Century A.D., because he had induced some outlying regions to accept the Buddhism doctrine. In the year 514 A.D., King Pop-hung of Silla accepted the Buddhism doctrine and tried to induce the court of the kingdom of Silla to accept the doctrine but he didn’t have success. The court of Silla enjoyed the privileges of the Confucian school of thought. Buddhism doctrine already had been accepted one century earlier in the kingdoms of Koguryo and Paekche.

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The Birth of Hwa Rang
During the sixth century the three kingdoms on the Korean peninsula continued to draw sharp cultural lines between themselves and the expansionistic Chinese T’ang Dynasty (A. D. 618 907). This expansion had induced an extended the period of war on the Korean peninsula, which gave birth to the Hwa Rang warriors. The Hwa Rang warriors appeared in the court of King Chin-hung, kingdom of Silla, in 576 A.D. King Chin-hung was nephew of King Pop-hung, who was the first to accept Buddhist doctrine in Silla.

The original flower
Won Hwa, “Original Flower”, where the name called to the female leader s of the Hwa Rang. The group of Buddhist monk warriors was based in the doctrine of no self. They believed that the human form was only a portal onto their higher Buddha-self. They didn’t do anything for themselves but, instead, devoted their entire lives and all their actions to their supreme spiritual teacher, Who Hwa, who led them through the path of Buddhist warrior knowledge. There were many “Won Hwa” to guide all the platoons of the elite group. The Hwa Rang were first a society of individuals that had as primary objective the understanding of the Ki, with the help of the Buddhist meditation, and perform what was considered supernatural feats. With the development of the Ki energy, they could expose their body to the extreme conditions like the fierce current of freezing Naklong River. Additionally, they could sit in deep meditation in the snows in Taebeck Sanmaek Mountains, where they were trained, clothed only with a loin cloth and emerge unscathed. Image 1 - Taebeck Mountain

Introduction to Hwa Rang Once the first group of Hwa Rang was introduced to King Chin-hung and their expertise revealed, he became certain that these warriors were fundamental to the defense of the Kingdom Silla against their attacking neighbors. But with the years of war, the Hwa Rang had proven the loyalty to the kingdom of Silla but also revealed that they were inefficient to defeat the Silla’s geographical neighbors: Koguryo, Paekche, and the invasive T’ang Chinese .
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Therefore, the court of king Chin-hung set about organizing a group of young talented noblemen, who were exceedingly loyal to the hope of them emerging victorious in battle and defeating their invasive neighbors. Because of wealth and aristocracy of the court of Silla, the King Chin-hung found a major problem recruiting young noblemen to the strict order of Hwa Rang. To solve this problem, the King Chin-hung implement a new strategy that was to use young beautiful woman, Won Hwa, to gather these young noblemen around them.
Image 2 - Wha Rang

From all of the Won Hwa there were two names that emerged Nan-mo and Chun-jung. Several hundred young noblemen did, in fact, congregate in their presence. But there was a major problem, one of them was jealous of the other. One day Chunjung poisoned the wine of Nan-mo and threw her body into the river, killing her. The Silla Royal Court condemned Chun-jung to dead, and the group of men surrounding the women disbands. King Chin-hung raised a new strategy that was to induct young and handsome nobleman to join Hwa Rang. The average age of these noblemen were twelve years old. To accomplish the objective, these young noblemen were dressed in the finest clothing and their faces were attractively painted with elaborate makeup. They were extensively instructed in Buddhism, medical science according to the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of internal Medicine (the Nei Ching), poetry, and music. It was believed those who fared well in these activities had the grace to become advanced warriors. Thus, a certain number of them were recommended to the Court of the Wha Rang.

The training of Hwa Rang The second generation of this elite group of warriors was trained in all forms of known martial warfare. The Wha Rang were taught with advanced practices of meditation so they could understand the energy of the Ki. With the understanding of the Ki the Hwa Rang made each of their physical movements a service to their leader and a n action ultimately in the service of Buddha. The thought developed by the Wha Rang was that meditation not only took place in traditional fashion, in the sitting posture, but also when one focused one’s personal
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spirit and when entered in battle with highly refined purpose and visions the victorious outcome. All the battles fought became a spiritual exercise in enlightenment.
One of the main goals to the Hwa Rang, was the need of killing the enemy because they thought that was beneficial to ultimate karmic good of their society. They induced the thought of the Hwa Rang making them to believe that they would archive a good Karma and be raised to a higher level of incarnation in their next reincarnation. This group of Buddhist monks was apart from the other formalized groups of Buddhist monks, because of the ideology that made the necessity of killing every enemy opponent. They also believed that the Kingdom of Silla was the land of the Maiterya (the unborn Buddha), and as such, killing for their society was, in fact, a Holy act. Therefore, Hwa Rang believed that each life they took, in necessary battle, was a movement of meditation and would lead them on to Buddhahood.
Image 3 - Wha Rang Warrior

Once a Hwa Rang was fully trained, he was put in command of a military troupe composed of several hundred common soldiers. From the battles won by the Hwa Rang the unification of Korea took place. History would not be served if it were not stated that this unification was archived by very bloody means, which result in the death of a large percentage of the population of the Korean Peninsula.

The Code of the Hwa Rang Once the Hwa Rang were a refined group of spiritually based warriors, their actions were founded upon an exacting code of ethics. This code of ethics was developed by the Buddhist monk, Wong-wang. The code of Hwa Rang was:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Serve the king with loyalty; Be obedient to your superiors; Be honorable to all mankind; Never retreat in battle; Kill justly.

The Martial Arts of the Hwa Rang The Hwa Rang were expert swordsmen, archers, and masters in the hand-to-hand combat. From all the martial arts there are three that emerged in Korea that were:

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Su Bak Su Bak, a fierce method of hand-to-hand combat, is the first documented martial art style to exist on the Korean peninsula. Su Bak was a deadly martial art that has the main objective to kill the opponent using powerful strikes. Not only did the Hwa Rang use weapons and hand-to-hand combat to defeat and kill their enemies, but they were the first group with the knowledge to kill the opponent by disabling vital pressure points to disrupt the Ki flow of their opponents. They were also the first formalized group to understand the power of the Ki and to use this power to
Image 4 - Su Bak

kill with efficiency.

Yu Sul During the late three kingdoms’ period, Su Bak became fragmented, and differing schools of the art came into existence. At this point, a new system of Korean martial art was formed: the Yu Sul. This martial art was developed to defend, with the power of the Ki, a simple brute force attack. With cultural transmission between the island nation of Japan and the three Korean kingdoms, taking place during this period, it is understood that Yu Sul was the predecessor of Japanese Kenjutsu, the forefather of jujitsu.

Image 5 - Yu Sul

With the born of Yu Sul, appeared two very distinct schools of martial arts thought on the Korean Peninsula. The hard-style based in attacking methods of Su Bak and the softer and manipulative defenses of Yu Sul. During this time, Su Bak became known as Tae Kyon. Tae Kyon was written in the Chinese characters “push shoulder”. The Hwa Rang warriors obviously embraced this martial art form and, as mentioned, created their own addition to it, Known as Su Bak Gi or “foot fighting”.

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Tae Kyon
The Korean Martial art Tae Kyon was born at a time when martial arts, on the whole, went into a rapid decline on the unified Korean Peninsula, under the control of Silla Kingdom. Tae Kyon, was the evolution of Su Bak and was also a very aggressive hard-style martial art system. The martial art of Yu Sul declined and vanished from the Korean Peninsula almost as fast as it had developed. By the end of the seventh century, no sign of it existed. Tae Kyon, therefore, survived as the only fighting system with a link to the ancient Su Bak.

Image 6 - Taew Kyon

The Korean martial art system of Tae Kyon continued to be practiced by the Korean military from the time of Hwa Rang forward.

The decline of the Hwa Rang After the unification of Korea and the defeat of the invasive Chinese T’ang Dynasty, the mind of the Korean people started to evolute to more philosophic thoughts. The elite of the Hwa Rang fell into decline because they no longer needed an elite group to defend Korea. The Hwa Rang started to be known as a group specialized in Buddhist philosophy because of the healing abilities associated to the power of the Ki.

Developing training Philosophy When we enter in a dojang of Taekwondo we see students with different levels of technical evolution according to the color belts and the commitment to practice the martial art. The train of Taekwondo is more than a simple pathway from the white into black belt. A student of Taekwondo must understand all the culture and all the philosophy of origins of Taekwondo. Understanding the body and mind is one of the main goals to practice of Taekwondo. Nowadays, most of the students of Taekwondo had only one thing in mind that is to train to obtain the next belt, or to win a competition. This perception by some students is very dangerous, because if a student trains a martial art like Taekwondo without a true understanding of the principles, may use the powerful techniques of Taekwondo to serve his/her own interests. Because of this, one possesses the ability of walk away from confrontation instead of being dragged into them simply to prove who the better combatant is.
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It is fundamental to use the knowledge to raise the power of the body and the mind at every instant. It’s important that this evolution should be synchronized to grant that the student of the Taekwondo his ready, at each time, to receive Knowledge shared by his instructor/master. Developing a Philosophy for Competition Much of the focus of modern Taekwondo has shifted from a self-defense orientation into a competition oriented martial art. The true practitioner uses the competition to share experiences and to interact with another practitioner of the modality. Basically, Competition is all about sharing experiences and perspectives. The competition is also a way for the practitioner to beat is worst opponent: himself/ herself. In a competition the most insignificant perspective is who wins who. The most important in a competition is the knowledge that the practitioner extracts from the interaction with the opponent. This Knowledge will induce the practitioner to train the body and mind, making possible his/her improvement.

The Role of Meditation in Taekwondo Meditation plays a vital role in preparation of a practitioner of Taekwondo, both mentally and spiritually, for the demands of self-defense coupled with the essential development and channeling of Ki, universal life force. Moreover, the act of meditation represents a spiritual boundary between the distractions of daily life and the focused mind one requires in the training hall. To begin, in order to respond rapidly facing a threat that has escalated beyond verbal meditation, the mind and the body must react rather than anticipate. This important distinction lies at the core of traditional defensive strategy. Making wrong assumptions about the movement from an opponent may lead into the wrong defense causing a severe injury. Through the sincere and diligent practice of meditation, the practitioner will raise an uncanny ability to react to an unprovoked attack rather to anticipate a potentially false move.

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Ki and its nature The practice of Taekwondo requires the student to become proficient in a multitude of blocks, kicks, strikes and sweeps. However, in order to support these techniques far beyond the physical limitations of the body, he must introduce an element not easily definable in common terms. This element is referred as Ki. The Ki element can be defined has Ki the cosmic ocean in which everything exists .” (Richard Chun)1 or as “an universal energy capable of infinite expansion and contraction, which can be directed, but not contained, by the mind (William Reed)2 or Ki, the vital life force, permeates the Universe, flowing through and animating all things . (Marc Tedeshi)3. Ki development is an essential component of martial arts training that is often overlooked in all likelihood due to the metaphysical issues it raises.

Conclusion The Taekwondo spirit was directly influenced by traditional and national thoughts from the Korean people. When a practitioner trains Taekwondo should take into consideration the true principles of Taekwondo. A true practitioner will train the body and the mind when is training Taekwondo. It is very important to complement the train of Taekwondo with meditation. Meditation will help the practitioner to use the energy of Ki. The principles of Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control and Indomitable Spirit are an evolution from the original code of the Hwa Rang. Competition is a way of interaction between practitioners and as a result of this interaction, new experiences should rise, allowing the implementation of diferent strategies and thoughts. Now the Taekwondo spirit can be better summarized by the philosophy of “hongik ingan” (universal benefits humanism), peace-loving spirit, spirit of integrity with which everyone should protect righteousness and grant a strong sense of responsibility. [1]

1 2

Richard Chun a true pioneer and practitioner of traditional Taekwondo [3]; William Reed, a disciple of Koichi Tohei, founder of Shin Sin Totsu Aikido [3]; 3 Marc Tedeshi, Hapkido practioner [3].

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References
[1] Kukkiwon, Taekwondo Text Book, 2nd Edition, 2006, Kukkiwon, ISBN: 89-7336-750-1 [2] Scott Shaw, Advanced TaEKWONDO, 1ST Edition, 2006, Tuttle Martial Arts, ISBN: 0-80483786-4 [3] Doug Cook, Traditional Taekwondo: Core Techniques, History, and Philosophy, YMAA Publication Center, 2006, ISBN: 1-59439-066-5.

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