People of the earth: you can take life easily, but remember that none of us can give life. Be merciful; never forget that compassion makes the world noble and beautiful. – Buddha
Let’s face it — if you say that you are training in a martial art as a kid, you are suddenly the kid to beat. Tell someone you are training as an adult and the question comes: “Why?” Most Americans who are not either training in a martial art themselves or close to someone who does will have the images of Chuck Norris, Steven Segal, the Ninja Turtles and Bruce Lee in their mind. To those not associated with the arts, it is a sport of fighting not much different from boxing — punching and kicking to cause harm, sometimes deadly. Tell someone that the martial arts give you peace and calmness — and blank stares greet you: “What?!?” Most see only the flash and the stylized images of martial arts as fighting. Few media images give the whole and rounded picture.
To use the physical aspects of taekwon-do to prove oneself is wrong. “The strong do not attack because they see no need to. Before the idea of an attack can enter your mind, you must first have perceived yourself as weak,” writes Helen Schucman. Taekwon-do fighting techniques should be used only if necessary. This does not mean that things learned while training cannot be used — but these things are not always hands or feet. Remembering how to stay calm in the midst of rising anger is both taught and learned while training.
I remember the first images I had of KOJO and the discussions that followed with a friend who trained there. I was confused and surprised. Even I, who knew someone so involved in the arts, thought that it was all about fighting. I was greeted with politeness, with a sense of calm — even when fighting — and I didn’t know what to think of it.
Training in taekwon-do has given me physical strength that I did not have before, but it has also given me a strength of heart. I have learned to control the anger inside and diffuse it in ways other than fighting. I have learned how to fight without being angry or enraged. Fighting with anger is usually how someone gets hurt. This also means that taekwon-do should not be used as a game, or as a means to taunt a sibling, friend or parent. It is not meant to be used as a threat or way of coercion.
It is said that the Buddha once spoke saying, “You can take life easily, but remember that none of us can give life. Be merciful; never forget that compassion makes the world beautiful and noble.” Hopefully, no one will ever need to use taekwon-do in a real fight. But should anyone have to, it should be as defense. It should be just enough to remain safe from danger. It does not have to be a deadly force.
Public perception of taekwon-do is not only influenced by demonstrations of fighting skills or ability to generate power. Work in the community afters the perception as well. Volunteering time at a local agency, donating money or talents to charities, all of these things help to build better image of the martial arts community. Community itself is one of the great gifts of the arts. Each positive act removes a little more of the stigma attached with martial arts.
Random thoughts on the misuse of power.
To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill.
To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill. — Sun Tsu
They fear us because we have the power to kill arbitrarily. If a man commits a crime, he should know what to expect. We have them killed and we feel pretty good about it. Or we kill him ourselves and we feel even better. That’s not power though. That’s justice. That’s different from power. Power is when we have every justification to kill — and we don’t. That’s power. — from Schindler’s List (Said by Oskar Schindler)
Conscious conduct or virtue means acting harmoniously with care toward the life around us. For spiritual practice to develop, it is essential that we establish a basis of moral conduct in our lives. If we are engaged in actions that cause pain and conflict to ourselves and others, it is impossible for the mind to become settled, collected and focused; it is impossible for the heart to open. In a mind grounded in unselfishness and truth, concentration and wisdom develop easily. — Jack Kornfield
Whosoever knows how to fight well is not angry.
Whosoever knows how to conquer enemies does not fight them.
— Lao Tse, Tao Te Ching
The individual has a morbid habit of unconsciously asserting itself as the center of experience and considering the other contents of the universe as adjectives or subsidiary elements meant to bring satisfaction to it in some way or the other. — Krishnananda
O, it is excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant. — Shakespeare
We should fight to check the enemy, not eliminate him. We must include ourselves in the round of cooperations and conflicts — of symbiosis and preying — which constitutes the balance of nature, for a permanently victorious species destroys, not only itself, but all other life in its environment. — Alan Watts, The Book
Watch the small irritable impulse or thought-wave carefully. Then it will become easier for you to control anger. Take all precautions. Do not allow it to burst out and assume a wild form…When anger is controlled it will be transmuted into an energy by which you can move the whole world. — Swami Shivananda
Anger breeds confusion. To be clear-minded you must avoid being angry. — Bhagavad-gita
To be wise before an action is wisdom.
To be wise during the course of an action is cautiousness.
To be wise after an action is folly. — Shivananda
If we could read the secret history
of those we would like to punish
we would find in each life
a sorrow and a suffering
enough to disarm all our hostility. — Longfellow
No matter how we exhibit strength, its truest measure is the calm and certain conviction with which it causes us to act. It is the ability to discern the path with heart and follow it, even when at the moment we might wish to be doing something else. True strength is not about force, but about conviction. If someone’s strength makes others feel weaker, it is merely domination, and that is no strength at all. – Nerburn
it is easy to fly into a passion — anybody can do that — but to be angry with the right person to the right extent and at the right time and with the right object and in the right way – that is not easy, and it is not everyone who can do it. – Aristotle
It is always easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them. — Alfred Adler