Friday, 26 November 2010

Perseverance (In Nae).

The second tenet of Tae Kwon Do that we will look at is Perseverance (In Nae).

Perseverance, like self control, is a relatively simple principle to understand; it means to continue, to keep going, to not give up. Yet perseverance is a difficult thing to accomplish.

Inside the dojang
New students to Tae Kwon Do, when they venture through the door of the training hall for the very first time, can feel a variety of emotions: some may be nervous, some embarrassed, some confident, others excited. Hopefully, as training gets underway and students’ skills and fitness develop, they will come to class with a positive attitude, a confidence that they are progressing and the desire to improve.
Yet it is almost inevitable that at some point a student will require greater willpower than usual to attend class; perhaps they have had a hard week at work or school, perhaps they are struggling to find the motivation to exercise or perhaps they are struggling with a certain technique or pattern. This is natural and understandable. However, a committed student will not let such obstacles affect their training in the long run. A committed student will have a goal and will not give up their intention of achieving this goal, whether it is to perfect that jump back kick, to better that new pattern or to achieve their black belt. Perseverance is what is required to continue training, even when the going gets tough.

“Fall seven times and stand up eight”- Japanese proverb

Beginning students show perseverance by coming back again after that first class. It is easy to look at more advanced students and instructors and think “I’ll never be able to do that!” Yet it is worth remembering that a black belt is just a white belt that never gave up. Perseverance demands a more positive frame of mind than an “I can’t” mentality.

Beginning is easy- continuing hard- Japanese proverb

Outside the dojang
The following short story sums up the idea of perseverance and not giving up, even when the outlook is bleak...

Shake It Off and Step Up
  by: Author Unknown, Source Unknown
A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer's well. The farmer heard the mule 'braying' - or - whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathised with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbours together and told them what had happened and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.
Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbours continued shovelling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back: he should shake it off and step up! This he did, blow after blow.
"Shake it off and step up... shake it off and step up... shake it off and step up!" he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought "panic" and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up!
You're right! It wasn't long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him. All because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

Sometimes it is easy to feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel (or no way out of the well). If you are looking for inspiration take time to read about or get to know inspirational people. Their success stories might just inspire you to persevere.  Here are some people that have inspired us...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Self Control (Guk Gi).

The first tenet which we will look at is Self Control (Guk Gi).

This is one of the easier terms to understand, so we will start with this one! It is also especially important both inside and outside the Dojang. Without self control a martial arts class, or in fact any real life situation, could easily get out of hand and have serious repercussions.

Inside the Dojang
From the very first moment a student steps through the door of the training hall we expect them to show some form of self control. The example we usually give to illustrate self control is that of two students sparring. If one student accidentally lands a kick or punch too hard (remember we spar with touch/ light contact), his or her opponent has two choices: they can either respond in an aggressive way themselves, possibly trying to hurt their partner in return, or they can show self control. They might indicate to their partner that they are not happy with the level of contact, but they would show self control through not reacting with anger. By keeping their emotions under control, a situation is avoided in which we might end up with students trying their best to injure one another. Our classes are run in a friendly manner. We do not tolerate angry or impulsive behaviour that could result in injury. We look after each other and that means using self control when needed.

Another example of when students are expected to exercise self control is when listening to or watching the instructors. A student that stands still and concentrates fully on what the instructor is saying will develop faster and pick up new techniques more quickly than a student who does not. If students are distracted, or spend their time fidgeting, they will miss important pieces of advice or information. This could potentially cause problems for their partners or other students in the class.

Outside the Dojang
When applying the 5 tenets of Tae Kwon Do outside the Dojang it is sometimes more difficult to remember how these principles can be of benefit to us and apply them to situations we find ourselves in. Here are just a few ways in which we might benefit from showing more self control…

Our younger students will appreciate that their classroom at school is similar to the training hall in terms of the behaviour expected, but how many will stop to think about the playground? Or how many teenagers will think twice about exercising self control when using social networking sites, such as Facebook, or instant messaging services? It is all too easy to say or do something in haste which we later regret, especially if that person has said something that you have found to be hurtful. Exercising self control might just save a nasty confrontation and a lot of hurt feelings. Have you ever heard the saying “Act in haste, repent at leisure”? No one is suggesting for one moment that you have to take abuse from someone else, or put up with aggression and nastiness, but there is a lot to be said for being the bigger person and diffusing a situation by using self control and refusing to act impulsively. There are ways and means of sorting out a situation that you are uncomfortable with, without losing your self control and potentially making things worse.

I wonder how many of our adult students will recall having been in a driving situation when they, or another driver, has lost their cool and their self control and acted impulsively? Whilst being very difficult to do at times, using self control in trying situations could prevent an accident or an angry confrontation.

We hope that you have gained a better understanding of the idea of self control through these examples. If you think of any others, whether they are inside or outside the training hall, please feel free to comment on this post and share your ideas with others. Who knows, it might just help someone out when they come to their next grading.

I am,
a king,
because I know how
to rule myself.
~Pietro Aretino, 10 May 1537

The 5 Tenets Of Tae Kwon Do

One of the first things about Tae Kwon Do that a beginning student learns is that there are 5 tenets. All Tae Kwon Do practitioners are asked to learn these tenets and are asked to name, and possibly explain them, from their earliest grading onwards. For some students the very word itself; tenet, is one that they may not have come across before. This is especially true of our younger students.

In order to help students grasp the concepts behind the 5 tenets, we will be explaining each tenet in turn in a series of blog entries over the next few weeks. Hopefully this will be of benefit to our new students and will encourage those who are already familiar with the tenets to look at them from a new angle.

The word tenet means an idea or a principle that is held by a group of people.

The five tenets of Tae Kwon Do are:
Self Control
Indomitable Spirit