DATE : 14-11-27 12:34
Why Should One Study Tae Kwon Do?
HIT : 838
This question itself needs analysis. It may mean what are the particular reasons some specific person has for practicing Tae Kwon Do.
These reasons will not suffice to explain why one is practicing Tae Kwon Do rather than karate, boxing, or fencing. One may have had an
acquaintance who practiced Tae Kwon Do, had a dojang nearby, etc. In this sense, each person will have his own reasons for studying Tae Kwon Do. Yet these personal reasons will not generally suffice to justify one's involvement in Tae Kwon Do, in the sense of giving one a firm commitment to this involvement. Just because one's reasons are personal and idiosyncratic, changes in one's personal circumstances may weaken one's commitment to Tae Kwon Do. For example, you might move away, your friends may not be working out any more, or you no longer feel timid and insecure. But when personal circumstances change, should there no longer by any commitment to Tae Kwon Do?
There may, however, be more stable, underlying reasons for studying Tae Kwon Do. These reasons may reflect more permanent features
than one's personal circumstances at a particular time. There may be something structural about human existence, especially the modern human condition, that would make Tae Kwon Do a desirable activity that one ought to pursue. It is in this more permanent, abiding sense that the question is asked: Why should one study Tae Kwon Do?
Let us consider the case of those people who believe that they ought to fight in certain foreseeable situations. For these there are two grounds on which they have a moral duty to learn how to fight. the first is based on prudence. Just as one is responsible for a baby that cannot feed or defend itself, so one is responsible for feeding and defending oneself. The second ground is based on committment. To make a moral assertion is to commit oneself to a certain course of action. For example, if one says, "I should not murder my spouse, one is committing oneself to a certain course of behavior. A person who is not a pacifist would say, "I ought to fight in certain situations, and such a situation might arise . To what is he committing himself? Of course, he is committing himself to acting in a certain way in future situations. Furthermore, he is committing himself to courses of behavior that would improve his performance in those situations.
For a person does have an obligation to engage in those activities that serve as means to improve the efficiency of his actions. Consider
parallel cases. Suppose someone said, "I ought to know how to swim, but I don't know how, and I do not plan to take time to learn. We would tend to suspect whether he was being sincere or not. Similarly consider if someone intended to run in a marathon and had no experience running. We would doubt his intention, his intelligence, or both. In both these cases, it is presumed that training is a necessary means to the end to which one has committed oneself. If fighting is an activity for which training greatly improves one's performance, then here too in committing oneself to the ends, one also has committed oneself ot the means. Therefore, the person who is not an absolute pacifist has an obligation to learn how to fight.
What about the absolute pacifist? If he thinks that he ought not to fight and that he ought to act from moral reasons rather than out of fear, he has a duty to seek those courses of behavior which will guide his actions along moral lines. If he knows how to fight reasonably well, then the probability of his acting out of fear when he affirms pacifist views is at least diminished. His refraining from fighting will no longer be motivated out of fear.
This point can be stated more simply. If one believes that one ought to turn the other cheek on moral grounds, then the significance of turning the other cheek will vary, depending on one's knowledge of how to fight. If one does not know how to fight, turning the other cheek, that is, offering no resistance, is one's best chance of defending oneself, regardless of one's moral views. If one knows how to fight and yet does not fight, the motivation is less suspect. To fight or not to fight becomes two practical, viable alternatives.
Consequently, there do exist stable, structural reasons why one ought to learn how to fight. Now what fighting skills are important varies with the technological level and fighting customs of a society. Being skilled at hand-to-hand combat is not of much use against a rifle or bow. The duty argued for above is concerned with being able to defend oneself against the type of agression that one is likely to encounter. Yet, the basic fighting skill is still hand-to-hand combat since one's body cannot be niislaid. Moreover, modern society, outside of contexts of institutional violence or war, is tending to become more and more weaponless. So fighting without weapons is becoming the method of combat that ought to be learned.
Why, then, is Tae Kwon Do an effective way of learning how to fight? There are the artistic aspects and benefits of Tae Kwon Do. By
practicing Tae Kwon Do, one receives the benefits of exercise, without needing much equipment or special facilities. One also becomes
involved with a cultural tradition that is international in scope. Why one chooses Tae Kwon Do rather than another martial art is a matter of
specifics: deciding that the particular techniques and doctrines of Tae Kwon Do are the most effective.
Finally, a word should be said about the more profound, spiritual side of Tae Kwon Do. This is too extensive a subject to be thoroughly
discussed here. Mention has already been made of Tae Kwon Do as an art. Further, note that there is a strong historical connection between Tae Kwon Do and Sun Buddhism (Zen Buddhism in Japanese). Certain goals of Sun are also sought after in martial arts training.
In Sun it is stressed that one must not stop and ponder one's actions, but that one should flow from one action to the next. For the Sun
Buddhist and for the fighter, stopping and thinking through a situation discursively is Undesirable, since it results in hesitation which might
One of the experiences the follower of Sun seeks is samadhi (mushin). In this state of consciousness, there is neither a dichotomy of you and the situation, nor of perception and action. Rather there is you-in-the-situation'. For example, during sparring, when your opponent tries to strike you, if you should attempt to follow and concentrate on his striking, your concentration on the entire situation ( you-in. the-situation') is lost, and you will probably lose. Instead, you should strive for a sort of field awareness, in which your opponent's move is noted and dealt with, without thinking about it consciously to the exclusion of other events in the field of action.
In Tae Kwon Do samadhi is appreciated and is systematically sought. The constant drilling of techniques and poomse in Tae Kwon Do is
designed to eliminate the need for consciously thinking about the next step. There is constant exhortation in sparring training to stop thinking and to act without hesitation. Emphasis on concenttation and on power focus is similar to the Sun techniques of meditating on an object to increase perceptivity. Of course, all of these practices merely create an environment that is extremely favorable for the appearance of sarnadhi.
As Sun teaching stresses, such states of being cannot be generated mechanically.
Thus, engaging in Tae Kwon Do has more significance than merely learning how to fight and keeping fit. The follower of Tae Kwon Do may come to recognize its more profound aesthetic and religious dimensions.