Second Half Songahm Spirit of Taekwondo

Taken from The Way of Traditional Taekwondo: Philosophy and Tradition:

At the end of class we say an oath as we prepare to go out into the rest of the world. Doing so helps to keep us mentally prepared for what may come, as well as continue the internal discipline that we learn inside of the do-jahng.

I shall live with PERSEVERANCE in the Spirit of Taekwondo

This is an important way to end the class. As you step back out into the world, you must be reminded to strive with perseverance each day and not allow the imperfections of all that surrounds you to limit your goals and crush your desires.

The Chinese character for perseverance is made up of two symbols. One means knife and the other means heart. This shows that perseverance is the ability to withstand many sharp pains in the heart. The Grand Master tells two stories about perseverance. The first is a story about his suh-bum nim and shows how to develop perseverance.

“Many years ago when I was just a brown belt, I was training hard in the old church building that we used as our do-jahng. While we were doing poome-sae, and important guiest came by to see my sah-bum nim. My sah-bum nim had just given the count for us to step into a back stance and execute a double knifehand strike. The sah-bum nim went into his office with him and left us standing in our stance for over 20 minutes. We were determined not to move since we had not been given permission to rest. We didn’t even move or straighten our legs. The guest left and our sah-bum nim came out to find us still standing in the same position. He was so proud because we had great perseverance. He commended the students and praised us for making him proud in front of the guest. These days, many martial artists have forgotten this level a discipline… a tragic loss for martial arts.”

The second is a story that exemplifies the act of perseverance:

Once, a long time ago, there were three men. They all wanted to study the martial arts under a great Master, so they set out in search of one. They made a small pack with clothing, placed it at the end of a pole, threw it over their shoulders, and off they went. They traveled for a long time with little food and found themselves often tired and hungry. They traveled deep into the mountains and valleys in search of the great Master.

After three months had passed, one man said to the other two, “We are hungry and sick and have traveled for a very long time now and still we have not found a Master to teach us. Let’s go home now.” The others refused, but this man could wait no longer and went home. Within a few days, the two men found a small temple and within was a great Master. They approached him and asked to be his students. He didn’t respond.

Three months again passed. The two men had served the Master each day, washed his clothes, cooked his food and did all they could to show their loyalty but the Master never even looked at them. So, one man said to the other, “We have done everything for him, yet he doesn’t even acknowledge us. Let’s go home.” The other man refused so one man stayed and the other went home.

Three more months of slave labour had passed when the Master looked at the remaining man and said, “You are alone. What do you want?” The man replied, “I want to be your student.” So, the Master gave him even more chores and put him back to work. Finally, the Master said to the man, “Now you may be my student. I have followed you for nine months knowing your intention. But, just as you have been looking for a Master, I have been looking for a student with perseverance. Anyone with perseverance can be taught anything. It is you who I desire to give all of my knowledge to so that when I pass on, my spirit will live on.”

having HONOR with others

Another line that is often misunderstood is this one. Hidden within this honor is also humility. For others to honor us, we must first deserve it. We must show others without “showing off” that we possess something that they desire to achieve. Honor with others comes when you’re not trying, but it shows anyway.

INTEGRITY within myself

Integrity is a “strict adherence to personal values.” This encompasses courtesy and honor. Every student understands the importance of being honest. But being honest within one’s self means to do all your push-ups when no one is looking. Even more important, yet difficult, would be keeping a promise that you made to yourself (without anyone else’s knowledge) which would not be important whether the promise was fulfilled or not.

Failure to have integrity could be seen in a black belt that leaves their sah-bum nim and starts a club without the proper training. Their new students assume that they are qualified to teach. They may be qualified to chah-gi (kick), but the skill of Taekwondo is far different than the ability to teach the art.

Grand Master Lee tells the following story about the reward of personal integrity:

“There was a baker with his own bakery. It was very successful and he made lots of money. One day, he began to put a gold coin in every roll that he would bake. People began to come by the masses to purchase his rolls. After several months, a  boy was eating a roll that he had bought and found his coin. Concerned, he returned to the bakery to give the coin back to the baker. When he entered, he told the baker that he found this gold coin that the baker must have dropped in the batter while making the roll. The baker said, “Boy, you found the coin, it is yours.” But the boy said, “Sir, I cannot keep this coin because it belongs to you.” The man then told the boy that for several months he has put the coins into the rolls waiting to find an honest person to return the coin. Then he said, “I have one hundred thousand dollars saved plus my business that I would like to make you an heir to because I was looking for an honest man to give my wealth to.”

and SELF CONTROL of my actions

Self control is a personal discipline that requires the use of perseverance. Because these are the final words spoken in class, they are the freshest on the students’ minds and should remind them that in all they do, they should never respond “out of control” in any situation. Every action taken should have forethought and be purposeful. To respond without the process of evaluating and determining the best response to a situation could result in an unpleasant experience. This applies to all areas of a person’s life and not just when faced with a confrontation of self-defense.

Self control should be used in all areas of our lives, including but not limited to: fighting, health habits, temper, and so on.


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