Taekwondo for All Schools
Speech by Shin, Yong Chul, Korean Cultural Service, July 16, 2008
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen! I am one of those individuals in the Korean community who gives advice and recommendation when asked. Although I am in the software consulting business specializing in Human Resources and Payroll systems, it is a great honor and privilege for me to speak before you, principals, teachers, educators and officials from Massachusetts on the subject of Taekwondo.
The History of Taekwondo
The history of Taekwondo dates back to about 50 B.C. It was first taught to Hwarangdo in Shilla Dynasty, what is equivalent to our Special Forces today. The very first Taekwondo students were an elite group of young noble men, devoted to developing their mind and body to serve their kingdom. They had their own honor-code and practiced various forms of martial arts. This old honor-code of Hwarangdo is the philosophical basis of modern Taekwondo.
After seeing the Taekwondo demonstration in 1955, President Syng Man Rhee ordered his military chiefs to require all Korean soldiers to receive training in the martial arts. Today the police and all Korean armed forces have to learn Taekwondo as part of their basic training. It has spread rapidly into public and private schools, colleges and to the general public in Korea. Military recruits in the United States learn Taekwondo today as part of their basic hand-to-hand combat training.
It is the most widely practiced and fastest growing form of martial art in the world. Due to its immense popularity, Taekwondo was introduced as a demonstration sport in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. Twelve years later, it became an official competitive Olympic sport in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Although there are many different forms of martial arts around the world, Taekwondo was chosen for the Olympics because it combines all aspects of the various forms of martial arts. Over 30 million people practice Taekwondo in more than 156 countries. That is one of many reasons why you see Taekwondo Centers all over this country and around the world from small towns to big cities.
What is Taekwondo?
You might have had some misconception about Taekwondo as a simple martial art, characterized by its fast, high and spinning kicks with hands and feet. Practitioners wear a white, loose-fitting uniform known as a “dobok,” tied at the waist with a colored belt that indicates rank of its expertise such as white, yellow, green, blue, red and black being the highest rank with different classes within.
Although Taekwondo is a system of self-defense, it is more than a physical fighting skill. It represents a way of thinking and a pattern of life requiring strict discipline. It is a system of training both the mind and the body in which great emphasis is placed on the moral development of its students. They receive instruction of moral principles such as courtesy, integrity, perseverance, and self-control. They learn how to combine the spirit, mind and body to achieve spiritual, mental and physical balance. Taekwondo is a way of life. Students learn to work together as a team and develop a strong sense of community within the group. They are taught to use their minds to avoid conflict whenever possible. They learn to use their spirit, mind and body to punch, block and kick with effective precision. It is the spirit that will live on much longer than the mind or the body and is something that can be handed down from generations to generations.
We teach that avoiding conflict is not a sign of a coward, but a sign of wisdom. The students learn to commit themselves to their goals and develop effective strategies to achieve them. Through Taekwondo training, we treat our bodies with respect and improve our own strength and ability. It is the heart and spirit that push us to do twenty more kicks, to run another mile or to practice our form one more time until we have it right. It is the spirit that refuses to quit or give up. It is the spirit that helps the mind overcome fear. The final goal of Taekwondo is to achieve harmony with nature and oneself. Balance is gained by controlling both positive and negative forces. A true Taekwondo student knows how to behave in all situations.
The Objectives of Taekwondo
Taekwondo has the following five important objectives:
1. To develop an appreciation for Taekwondo as a sport and as an art
2. To achieve physical fitness through positive participation
3. To improve mental discipline and emotional balance
4. To learn self-defense skills
5. To develop a sense of responsibility for oneself and others.
The Benefits of Taekwondo
Taekwondo has many benefits for all those who wish to be trained in this ancient martial art. Although physical training and the development of the flexibility in the body are positive aspects of Taekwondo, it is the mental training that one receives that is most important. Students learn the difference between what is right and wrong. They learn how to focus on the task at hand and concentrate on what is going on in the world around them. We teach them how to listen and how to react to any given situation. The training allows them to become more confident in themselves and develop a strong sense of self-esteem. Taekwondo is a “thinking-action” philosophy. They must first use their brain to think about what they are going to do and then use their bodies to carry out the action. Once they achieve balance between the mind and the body, they are able to be their best in all situations. It is the combination of mental and physical training that makes up the art known as Taekwondo.
Taekwondo for All Children
Taekwondo has no age limits and is a very good sport for all children. Students learn how to react fast, to respect others and to know their abilities and disabilities. There is very little person-to-person contact while practicing Taekwondo. Only those who choose to go to competitions and compete in sparring are required full protective equipment. Taking part in a competition is not to hurt the opponent, but to test one’s physical and mental strength.
Are you looking for a workout that is fun and will get you into shape? We have seen students completely transform their bodies. Weight loss of 20, 40, or even 60 pounds is not uncommon. This program is high energy, explosive, exciting and motivating. It will give you a full body workout. It is a fun way to get into shape and improve your self-defense skills.
Taekwondo is rated as the #1 workout by Muscle & Fitness Magazine to improve cardiovascular health, burn calories up to 800 per hour, and tone the entire body. You will increase your self-confidence and decrease your stress level. The workout includes a warm up, stretching, vigorous cardiovascular workout, followed by toning exercises and a cool down. You will leave feeling invigorated and challenged to come back again.
Taekwondo as a Regular Physical Education Program in Schools
They are the very reasons why we believe Taekwondo should be taught as a regular physical education program in public and private schools at all levels. As you are well aware, we in this country, in most industrialized nations in the world for that matter, are having serious obesity problems at all ages. We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on weight reducing pills, programs, diets and exercises after we become adults. Wouldn’t we better off to get our children in shape at their tender ages and prevent them from making the same mistakes we made when we were young? Taekwondo is a sure way to get our own children off the streets, drugs and obesity and to put them in the right path. What other sports programs better than Taekwondo do you have in schools that keep children physically, mentally, spiritually and morally fit at the same time?
I am sure you and your students’ parents and relatives have witnessed the dramatic positive changes in their children’s attitudes toward their parents, elders and friends ever since they started taking Taekwondo lessons. They have started showing more respect and courtesy. There is nothing better in children’s education than the combination of American free-spirit and Asian discipline and morality. This is what Taekwondo training in this country is all about. You and I know it is very difficult if not impossible for parents to influence their children when they grow up. The best time to plant the right seed in the children’s mind and body is when they are young and under your protection.
I for one cannot overemphasize the importance of adopting Taekwondo as a regular physical education program in all schools, particularly in elementary schools. You, the educators in Springfield and Chicopee, Massachusetts, are the pioneers in this direction. You can share your experiences and spread the words to other educators and government officials around the country and the world. I would love to see the rest of the United States, the world for that matter, follow your steps with the financial support from the local, state and federal governments in my lifetime. Then, our own children will surely have a better world for themselves!
Thank you very much.