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Tae Kwon Do - The Hand-Foot Technique - A Way of Life

January 09, 2006

Tae kwon do means, literally, "the hand-foot technique". Without going into too much history, tae kwon do was thought to have come into existence over two thousand years ago at the end of the "B.C. era" in Korea. This was a tumultuous time for the region which required everyday people to learn some form of self-defense in case of attacks from nearby villages and surrounding states.

Taking a look at the words "hand-foot technique" it becomes obvious that the fundamentals behind tae kwon do deal with using one's body. The emphasis is on simple but powerful hand movements, kicks, and blocks. Although weapons certainly come into play in tae kwon do (and pretty much any other form of fighting), the basics of tae kwon do all deal with using one's own body as a means for attack and defense.

But a closer look at the "hand-foot technique" reveals that, in essense, it deals with the raw physical-ness of one's surroundings. Again no weapons (external items) are to be used, no fancy pressure point attacks, no choke holds, just plain old kicking, punching, and defense. Indeed, the developers of tae kwon do lived by the simple principles of:


These simple "commandments" in combination with a non-fancy art of fighting and defense come together to form the basis for a way of life. This way of life is certainly a daring one. When you opt to use your hands and feet instead of an external weapon to do battle with, you are taking a great risk. Now, I'm quite sure that when the chance arose, any smart person would gladly pick up a sword (or broom handle for that matter) to do battle with when backed against the proverbial wall. However, by choosing to train without such weapons, ancient practitioners of tae kwon do were choosing to put their on the line. What this comes down to is a way of life in which one really must live.

I believe the worst thing in life is to be laying on your deathbed, about to die, and thinking to yourself that you truly have not lived. When facing death you have no choice but to quite quickly assess your life and, in the defining moment before you die, to determine whether or not you've "lived your life to the fullest". Did you live with free will? Did you do everything you desired? Did you do (or perhaps worse, not do) something that has become a cancer to your thought about your life? When staring into the face of death, these are the decisions you will have to make, and the worst feeling I can think of would be to think to yourself that you are afraid to die because you truly have not lived.

Tae kwon do tries to assess just this situation. Tae kwon do, because of it's purely physical nature, by using just your body, and living with the raw connection of oneself to one's surroundings and respecting and holding life as the most valued thing in the world, is a way to truly live your life to the fullest.

Indeed the training of tae kwon do teaches you to respect yourself and your capabilities and to respect others (no matter if the person is benevolent or evil - there should always be some level of respect). Tae kwon do training will instill a sense of confidence as techniques are mastered, new forms are learned, and new belts are attained. This confidence leads almost to a desire to truly live, to be put in life-defining circumstances, and to push oneself to constantly strive to achieve more and live a richer life.

The ancient practitioner of tae kwon do literally had no choice but to live day-to-day under fear of attack literally with their life on the line. In this sense it was perhaps easier to live your life to the fullest and truly be satisfied with what you have. But in modern times with the excesses of humanity it becomes (even more?) important to engage yourself in something (not necessarily tae kwon do) that helps you appreciate life and to live the way you desire.

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