Taekwon-do Philosophy in Motion

Simone Dunkerley, 7th Gup, RTR, Taradale


Taekwon-do is more than just a sport, it’s a philosophy.

As a white belt, you’re required to memorise the tenets of Taekwon-do.

  • Courtesy – To be polite to one another and show respect
  • Integrity – Honesty – Knowing right from wrong and doing right
  • Perseverance – Never give up
  • Self-control – To control your emotions, physical abilities and actions
  • Indomitable spirit – Unable to be tamed or conquered

Every week I am blown away by the culture Taekwon-do instils in its students and it’s something I’ve never been prouder to be a part of. These tenets aren’t just something nice to say with some wishful thinking sprinkled over top. Students aim to live by these tenets. They’re drilled into us with love.

Taekwon-do students want each other to do well, despite it being an individual sport. Over the last year I’ve come from feeling forced to pretend to cheer my peers on, to being elated when they smash a goal or even best me in an event.

Now, obviously my experience is limited only to my local club that practices ITF Taekwon-do, but I’m sure our club is not unique in this culture. Competitive tournaments have so much positive, encouraging and exciting energy surrounding them, we aren’t the only ones who teach like this.

While I’m finding it difficult to put these feelings into words, let me show you a photograph that sums it up for me.

Our club recently competed in an out-of-town tournament on the weekend. The young green belt boy is from our club.

Now, our sparring events go for two one-minute rounds. At the time this photo was taken, these two young boys had been fighting full energy for much longer than two minutes due to a draw result from the judges.

After the third round, exhausted and showing incredible indomitable spirit, the official (pictured between the boys) left his table to speak to the competitors privately before starting the fourth and final round. I can assure you that judging by both boys’ faces at the time, neither of them wanted to face another round.

The boys didn’t know each other, and the official was from a different club and had never met the boys either, but this picture nearly had me in tears by the way he showed compassion and empathy to these two brave competitors.

No one knows what was said to these two boys, but they sparred valiantly for the difficult final round. And it was amazing to watch. As they drew again, it came down to a tally of points in which our boy did not win in the end.

After the match, the next competitors were put on hold as the official came to speak directly to our competitor and encourage him. He explained how our greenbelt had come a long way from the beginning of the fight to the end, starting with fighting incredibly defensively and throwing few punches, to getting in some well-timed high points.

The scene from the photo was talked about for a week after the event and used as a lesson to us as incredible perseverance. I hope one day to be as brave as that kid, and as empathetic and encouraging as that official.