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An Astounding Art - Tae kwon do

Apr 30, 2008
When you think of mortal combat, does the word art come to mind?

Of course not.

Martial arts are not only hard. They have an internal part, the softer part that develops roots in philosophical ideals often unknown to non martial artists. The fact that martial arts have two sides is an important reason why instructing children in the martial arts is a great idea.

Many parents worry that teaching their kids martial arts will make them more aggressive and more likely to fight. The opposite is actually true. And there is a fundamental reason why.

Martial arts are actually made of two components, an external and an internal part. Remember the Chinese yin/yang, the never ending circle which visually depicts that all things have an opposite. The sky has earth, good has evil and hot has cold.

What is referred to as external martial arts is what most people are familiar with. This is the action you enjoy on the movie screen and on television. It's the sometimes violent or even deadly, hard hitting power that one can learn to use to overcome an opponent. But remember, that what you see on the screen is only what Hollywood deems glamorous.

A martial art is never, never taught only at its external, physical root. As with the yin-yang, the martial arts are surrounded by philosophical underpinnings of peace and harmony that form the internal, mental root. Specifically, internal martial arts study embraces the philosophy of Consequentialism or "right action."

All actions cause reactions or consequences. The theory of "right action" is the practice of choosing to take the highest road and thereby causing the most moral results. Because this does not always come naturally to humans, martial artists believe they must actively practice choosing the the most moral course which in turn brings the best outcome for more people.

These principles involve recognition of others while developing greater personal patience and insight. Most martial arts began in the countries of Asia where Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism is rooted. The philosophical ideals of these belief systems permeate the martial arts.

Author Doug Cook writes of a Korean proverb that when translated states, "Peace within the individual brings peace within the family; peace in the family brings peace in the community; peace in the community, peace in the country and peace throughout the world." The concept of "right action" to bring about peace in the individual is believed to spread virally through society and consequently, the world.

This one concept is just a small part of the philosophy that sculpts the internal root of the martial artist. Just as there are many kicks and punches, blocks and strikes to learn in the physical root, there are many more pieces to the internal structure.

Children who receive martial arts instruction learn the physical actions of self defense that build strength and increase flexibility. They become more confident and begin to absorb the philosophical ideals of good citizenship. As they learn to know the "right action" combined with this increased confidence, they become fundamentally better decision makers. It becomes apparent that defense is no longer a concern because they know how to avoid the situations that would need defending.

Suddenly, peace throughout the world no longer seems unreachable.
About the Author
Kalynn Amadio is a 3rd degree black belt in tae kwon do. Before starting your child in martial arts, see her website for more on Right Action and Kids Taekwondo classes. Tae kwon do is a family activity.
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