Winning is NOT the Goal!

Respect...Believe it or not, winning is not the primary goal behind training in Taekwondo. The truth is that Taekwondo, and most Martial Arts for that matter, are designed to skillfully avoid win-lose situations, to avoid conflict altogether. In the broadest sense, training in Taekwondo is meant to help people enjoy happier, more fulfilling lives… It’s about “concurring the self.”

While it may sound vague, that phrase has real meaning. You; “conquer yourself” by recognizing; “something greater than yourself.”

The two basic elements that lead to and reflect that conquest are respect and discipline, respect for yourself and others and discipline for controlling your emotions such as anger and fear. For a young student, this concept may at first seem hard to grasp but with nurturing and time, it becomes an intrinsic part of their lives.

Those who complain that today’s kids have no respect for authority don’t always realize that respect, like discipline, is something that is best taught by example and all too often the right examples are few and far between.

You can see this particularly in our sports, where emphasis is squarely placed on winning, particularly, winning at all costs. Even teamwork seems to have fallen out of favour; we put the spotlight on the individual stars in their moment of conquest.

Kids today need and want someone or something to respect along with a strong idea to hold on to and believe in. In that sense they’re not much different than most adults. This is where the study and practice of Taekwondo can very often fill that void.

Respect happens the first time a student steps into the dojang and bows to the flags and the instructor. Far from being a long time tradition, the bow is an outward expression of respect for someone in authority (the instructor) regardless of their age, size or gender.

Discipline is the backbone of Taekwondo. Most dojang’s have basic rules of conduct and protocol, either posted on the wall or explained orally in class. These are put in place to create a more conducive environment for learning along with a proper and safe training atmosphere within the dojang. Rules such as; “All uniforms must be clean and in good condition” and; “Students must be courteous and helpful.”

There is also the discipline that is demanded by the instructor. Some instructors choose to remain aloof, treating their students with a stern politeness that seems more like disdain, while others take a more personal, softer approach. Whether it’s with the rod and the stick or with gentle affection the end goal of both is to instill a discipline that will help nudge the student to a higher level of learning, growth and enlightenment.

The benefits of respect and discipline might not be glamorous or immediate, but they are certainly character building, life changing and lasting.

It may came as no surprise that children who practice Taekwondo on a regular basis usually get better grades in school, are happier, better prepared to meet life’s challenges, have higher self-esteem and are more relaxed and at ease with others.

You might say that dojang respect and discipline applies to every aspect and area of life. “Students must be courteous and helpful,” is certainly not a bad idea anywhere, anytime.

By conquering oneself, we learn these greater truths… That all people, including yourself, deserve respect and that discipline makes anything possible.

By Master Tim Bell

ITA / WTF 6th Dan Black Belt


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