TKD: A Way of Life

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The Tenets

on MAR. / 24 / 2011 | 0 comments

In this series of installments I thought that it would be most appropriate to cover the core tenets of Tae Kwon Do and discuss how they apply to our daily lives.

We observe five tenets as the core of our martial art:

1.     Courtesy
2.     Integrity
3.     Perseverance
4.     Self-Control
5.     Indomitable Spirit


Of course, these observances are not exclusive to those that practice TKD, but equally apply to all people. For this post, my focus will be on tenet number four, “Self-Control”. Forthcoming updates will handle each of the remaining principles.

I chose to delve into “self-control” first as it represents a doctrine that is severely lacking in many of today’s youth and sadly, adults as well.  While all of the tenets support each other, self-control, is, I believe, the center beam that makes keeping to all of the others possible.

Defined, it simply means having the ability to exert control and restraint of oneself or ones’ actions, etc. Think honestly of your own personal (or professional life for that matter) and ask how many times your efforts were (self) undermined because you lost control in a particular situation. We have all done it and it is very easy, in fact, very human, to give way to our impulses and behave in ways that are less productive and harmful to others and us. Sometimes we know this and do it anyway while other times we do it quite unintentionally. Nevertheless, the results are the same and even minor failures to exhibit self-control will inevitably result in some level of negative outcome. This is the way life works and these are the laws of the universe.

Lack of self-control often coincides with two other behaviors that tend to support and magnify the process and result of momentary lapses and they are namely, “excuse making” and “blaming”. These actions further compound poor outcome(s) and have the potential to trap us in a cycle that perpetuates self-destructive conduct because in the end, with this negative mindset, we shirk personal responsibility for our own actions and place it elsewhere. There is no progress with this approach.

In a society that encourages all activity that falls under the umbrella of being a “free spirit”, self-control, is viewed negatively as it implies some level of conforming to the establishment. However, I challenge this viewpoint on the basis that the person that is in control of his or her thoughts and actions is, in reality, on the path to true freedom and liberation! This is so because self-control immediately requires a mindset of present moment awareness in order to operate successfully. Right now, is where everything happens and when we make consciously wise choices in the present, the future begins to take on a more positive shape in quite a natural, unforced manner. In truth, we simply build or destroy our futures as individuals and as a larger society by the thoughts and deeds carried out in this moment. If we are honest with ourselves we can look at those times when self-control was lost and immediately tie it to an outcome in the future that did not serve our better interests. Drink too much tonight at the party; your health suffers in the morning or worse.  Use harsh language now against those that you care for and love and you will create disharmony and harm.  However, if we maintain positive mindful control over our thoughts and actions as they are occurring in real time, we lessen the suffering for others and ourselves at all levels! This is freedom!

Being in a positive state of self-control does not only imply restraint as it is defined above, but it also means that we are obligated to exhibit mastery in our lives. We must perform even the most mundane tasks at a level that is within our full capacity to produce quality results. Anything that falls short represents poor self-control.

In closing, I encourage all of you that have read this article to venture on the path of the fourth tenet of Tae Kwon Do: Self-Control. It will take repetition and discipline, you will have successful days and others that fall short, but do not make excuses or pass blame for failures, as this will weaken your progress.  Have a goal and persist, build on each loss; stop complaining and drive on in your lives. In time, you will begin to experience the true liberation that self-control brings as it positively contributes to your life and those that you touch each day.

The next post will cover “Indomitable Spirit”. Until then resolve to be a conscious choice maker!
 

Perseverance

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

February 10, 2011
 

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”
 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


This quote suggests that failure is very much a part of attaining our goals and while it seems paradoxical, we must accept that fall downs are an entirely normal and expected part of the process. The problem is not that difficulties occur, as they will, instead, falling short is typically the result of attaching more to the failures that occur and thereby losing our vision and purpose. How often have we quit far too soon? Are we more successful excuse makers than achievers?

While having goals is an essential part of maximizing success in any endeavor, in the end, accomplishing them is the measure of achievement. With that written, the energy that defines and shapes perseverance is a steady persistence that by its own nature overcomes those inevitable obstacles that will often surface on the road to success at the most inopportune times. In many ways, the Tae Kwon Do Tenet, Perseverance, brings to mind the qualities of water as described by Lao Tzu:

“Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it.”

Water steadily rolls onward and ultimately finds its way no matter the obstacle; it possesses tremendous, unstoppable energy. This, I believe, is the essence of what it means to persevere.

While life is not without adversity, it is equally important to recognize that it is not supposed to be insurmountable. That is not the purpose. The quality of character built through Tae Kwon Do training and observing its philosophies teaches us this, but often, as with many things, we lose our way. We are human and we need to practice in order to maintain our mindfulness. Like the qualities of water, the Tenet of Perseverance teaches us that we will run into boulders that may cause us to stop and slightly alter course, but with “steady persistence,” all things can be overcome. There are no success stories without as many or more tales of failure. The difference is that those that ultimately “beat the dragons” persisted and did not accept discouragement and difficulty as the result. This quality has to come from within.

Your goal may be to pass your next promotion test, win a tournament, have more positive and supportive friends, earn a masters degree, build a business, whatever. Nothing is too large to be achieved. Keep steady, be mindful of your training in Tae Kwon Do and look for ways to find parallel applications of our doctrines in your everyday life. Eventually, your objective will become your reality, but only by way of persevering.

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