As part of our Taekwon-Do grading syllabus, to grade from Red belt to Black tip students are required to do a speech on anything relating to Taekwon-Do. Three of my students successfully graded to Black tip recently. I will share each of their short speeches over the next few days as I get them in type. Even though these are Taekwon-Do oriented, I believe any traditional martial artist can relate to them.
This one is by Dimitri Gonatas, age 17.
In a society where the upsurge of crime and corruption is overwhelming, our lives are filled with fickle values brought on by this volatile lifestyle. In a country like South Africa, there are little to no rules, those who wish to disobey them often go untouched by the law. In this cloud of chaos I have found my silver lining, and this is the martial art of Taekwon-Do. A few years ago, I had not understood what Taekwon-Do meant as well as what it entailed and thus misunderstood the lessons I could learn from the art.
The words of my Sabum ring in my ears to this day from the moment I stepped into his Dojang for the first time “I will teach you to fight so that you don’t have to fight.” This perplexed me, I thought of the statement as redundant because of its irony. What would be the point of having a finely tuned skill, which can, or rather should never be brought to use. Only recently has it occurred to me, that prior to adopting Taekwon-Do there was no sense of stability and discipline in my life that would help me to overcome our country’s harsh conditions. This would have resulted in far more different and uncontrolled lifestyle to the one that has been intertwined with this martial art. I am able to compose myself in public as a civil and wise person as the tenets of Taekwon-do sculpt my behavior. The lessons I learn which teach humility and the way of the world are just as important as the lessons on how to use my body.
Taekwon-Do has been the knife, which has begun to carve my body to be a potentially lethal weapon. It has helped me to understand the mechanics and science behind my movements and has shown where my areas of weakness lie. It is only through Taekwon-Do however, that I am not only shown these weaknesses but more importantly, I am capable of turning them into strengths. I have begun to understand how to protect myself, and use my body as well as my personality as an instrument against those who would do me harm. However with this great power bestowed upon me, I have the responsibility to “Never misuse Taekwon-Do” as instantiated by our tenets.
Some, including myself at a stage, may find ITF Taekwon-Do and merely see a sport, a means of fitness, or even a self defense. Sure one may argue that it is a combination of these and yet he too would be wrong. Taekwon-Do is a way to live a full and rewarding life, being a street sweeper or a business tycoon. Taekwon-Do is a way to keep the world at peace rather than a way to teach people to make war.