Being Moral as it relates to martial arts by Richard
On the topic of being moral I first fall back to something that I learned in Taekwondo where we memorize a list of moral principles based on Korean Warrior Ideology adapted from the book, MooYe Dobo TangJi, written in the 1400.
Here they are:
Taekwondo Moral Principles
Be loyal to your country.
Be obedient to your parents.
Be loving between husband and wife.
Be cooperative between brothers.
Be respectful to your elders.
Be faithful between friends.
Establish trust between teacher and student.
Always respect all living things.
Never retreat in battle.
Always finish what you start.
Although this was written over five centuries ago the list is still accurate for developing the strength of character that gives us a moral society. It starts with the individuals having strong morals. This leads to families with strong morals. Beyond that we grow to be a community and then even a society of moral people who have a strong sense of right and wrong to establish a system of justice and rules or laws. These concept are taught in all Korean martial arts styles.
Being loyal to one’s country begins with being a good citizen. Following the laws and setting a good example for your family members is a responsibility of good citizenship. Being loyal to their country shows patriotism toward your country because you love it, even though you may not love all the things about it. I have often said that I love my country but not always our leadership. People can change corrupt leadership if they pursue it enough. If people want change, it starts with them.
Being obedient to our parents is the first step of character development that all children will experience. Those early lessons in life are the foundation of our moral strength. I feel that children should listen to their parents. Be obedient to them whether they agree with them or not. They love you more than anyone else and have your best interest at heart.
Being loving between husband and wife teaches the children about respect and loyalty. Parents behavior sets the tone for all moral decisions in the home. It reminds me of an old saying, the relationship between husband and wife, must be like “fish and water” but not like fish and the fisherman.
Being cooperative between brothers teaches us that teamwork will always accomplish more than if we face challenges alone. Be being cooperative we learn to share responsibilities for the greater good of the group. For young children we must focus on the positive feelings that they will feel for doing something well with others. This also applies to the feelings of pride that they can feel when they stand up for their siblings in difficult situations with others.
Being respectful to your elders is important to any good society. They have the experience of life to give them an insight into problems that we face in our youth. They can counsel us and advise us on what appropriate actions to take when facing difficulty in life. So many cultures in the world are built around respecting elders. In China, Confucian law encourages respect for families and its older members. Japan and Korea also respectfully celebrate their older members. Treating our elders respectfully should be the foundation on which future societies should be built.
Being faithful between friends teaches us many things. Loyalty is perhaps the most prized quality in any kind of relationship. Those who can claim this virtue are often blessed with better health and overall relationship satisfaction and happiness—professionally, personally, and romantically. Even something as small as continuing to root for your hometown sports team when you make a big move is good for your psyche! To me a loyal friend is honest. Loyal friends are impartial. Loyal friends don’t put conditions on your friendship. Loyal friends have boundaries.
Establishing trust between teachers and students is important to me as a martial arts teacher and it starts the moment a student enters the class. Lead a conversation with your class about how trust is important in all relationships as well as in learning. I find that it is important to listen to your students. Actively listening to students is a way to learn about their motivations, desires, and pains. Without knowing it, students will reveal to you the keys to their hearts and minds. You will start to understand why they respond in a specific way, what they need in times of distress, and what makes them happy. This is vital information that can be translated into action. Practice taking mental and physical notes when students are talking to you. Building trust isn’t easy. It takes time and effort. But the benefits of trusting relationships can last a lifetime beyond the Dojang.
Always respect all living things is a concept deeply rooted in Asian culture. People need to respect nature and living things because the environment is important. I know that hurting the environment hurts animals and pollutes the earth when we don’t. Without plants and trees, we would not be able to survive. I believe that knowledge will give you power, but respect gives us character. Respect yourself and others will respect you. When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are. Men are respectable only as they respect. You will find that respect for all living things is a part of every major religion across all cultures.
Never retreat in battle is a part of the Warrior’s Code in every culture for good reason. This lesson applies to all difficulties that we face in life. Never retreat in battle means do not give up and walk away from what challenges you because something seems hard or difficult to accomplish. Stay the course! Imagine that you are struggling with learning something at school. You keep trying but it seems so difficult to learn. Do you give up? Do you say, “I quit”? Of course not. People of strong moral character don’t quit. I often teach that this can be applied to your health. You make a promise to yourself to start eating healthy. You work hard to stay away from junk food, but one day you splurge and eat all kinds of candy and soda. Do you give up on your promise of a healthier you? Do you say “oh forget it…too late now. I blew it?” No! You get back on track!
Always finish what you start. This phrase has a strong effect on being moral because it is an essential part of keeping your word to others. Finishing things, you start has a significant impact on your traits. You gain a sense of achievement & confidence because of it. Despite the odds, it is finishing what you started guarantees your success and trust. It conveys a message that you are apt, trustworthy, confident, and capable of keeping promises. This requires us to consider certain things before we make a promise. Be selective in what you embark on, make sure it is something you are passionate about, and you want to see through. Estimate the resources you need. After which, plan out the work accordingly. That means making a quick plan on how much time and effort this idea will take, so we can have a bird’s eye view. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive. Just a quick outline will help. The point is to have something that guides you. Budget your time and energy accordingly. After you create your outline, you should have a realistic idea of how much time and effort is needed to complete it. Plan out your time and resources accordingly and integrate them into your schedule/to-do list. I find this to be my most effective system for finishing everything that I start.
Whether you practice Taekwondo, Hapkido, Kumdo or some other martial art I hope that you can understand how these things help us to be moral people. Try applying some of these thoughts and strategies in your life for better results.
About the author: Richard Hackworth is a Grand Master of Haemukwan Hapkido, Taekwondo and Korean Sword. He also hold a Masters License in Tai Chi. Hackworth is best known as the host of the “World Martial Arts TV Show” and “Fight for Your Health TV Show”.
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