Tae Kwon Do has been commonly known in the West as a form or physical discipline. Such an understanding of the Korea Martial Art, which has been passed on from generation to generation, is only partially correct. Tae Kwon Do is the disciple of the mind and of the body.
The mind and the body are always viewed as inseparable in oriental philosophy and demonstrated in Tae Kwon Do tradition. Mind and body constitute the most fundamental aspects of Tae Kwon Do training. This is clearly indicated in the word, Tae Kwon Do, itself. “Tae Kwon”, literally means kick and punching, and denotes the physical aspect of the art. “Do” translates as “art” or “Way” (the W is capitalized to mean “way of being in the world”, a spiritual way of being”. These two aspects of Tae Kwon Do are inseparable.
Most sports have no emphasis on the mental aspect. Koreans usually refer to these sports as games to distinguish them for “Do” (art or Way). Training of the mind is essential in the art of Tae Kwon Do.
According to the national teacher Bojo, the founder of Korean Zen, our mind is originally tranquil and wakeful at the same time. A tranquil mind is empty and one pointed. Like a tranquil pond in the deep forests, it is calm and unmoving. A wakeful mind is fully aware of its surroundings at all times. A wakeful mind is like a cat waiting for a mouse, alert and attentive, ready to react. More importantly, both aspects are inseparable, one and the same.
One mind, which is calm and attentive, is key to mental aspect of Tae Kwon Do. In Tae Kwon Do our mind must be completely empty of other thoughts and focused only on Tae Kwon Do. For example, while kicking, we must only be thinking of kicking. While we are blocking, we must only be thinking of blocking. Thus, a complete and total action is a Tae Kwon Do action. Such an action is precise, and therefore, never misses its target. This is what we strive to achieve in our practice of Tae Kwon Do.
We must remember that a total or complete action is only possible when we are able to keep one’s mind, which is calm and alert at the same time. When our mind is disturbed and lazy, there is no Tae Kwon Do action. The stream of total and completeness flows from the river of one’s mind. In the tradition of the American Tae Kwon Do Federation, to keep one’s mind at every moment is the ultimate goal of Tae Kwon Do. Only then, are you able to live in the “Do” of Tae Kwon Do.
In developing the quality of one’s mind, sitting meditation is considered one of the most effective methods. There are three essential elements:
|1.||Place the right foot on the left thigh, and then left foot on the right thigh. Bring the knees in contact with the floor, and make sure the spine is straight.|
|2.||After assuming the body position, place right hand in your lap palm up. Then place your left hand, palm up, into the palm of the right. Bring both thumbs together forming an oval|
|3.||Keep your eyes half open, do not strain, keep your shoulders, face, and other parts of your body relaxed.|