The Student Oath

Matt Pilcher – 1st Gup, Dragon’s Spirit Papatoetoe

The Student Oath

Student Oath banner from Dragon’s Spirit Papatoetoe Dojang

The Student Oath is something we say at the beginning of class, we have said it hundreds of times during our Taekwon-Do journey, but do we really understand what it means, or are we just saying it because we have to?

The Student Oath should be something that we live by, not just inside the Dojang when we are training, but in our lives, everyday, at every moment.

So let’s break it down to its five components:

  • ‘I shall observe the tenets of Taekwon-Do’

    Tenets of Taekwon-Do

Courtesy – Respecting others’ possessions and property, maintain correct etiquette, being polite to one another, respecting seniors, instructors, and elders. For example, giving up your seat on the bus for a senior, and holding the door open for others.

Integrity – Knowing right from wrong. Doing the right thing at all times. Being a good and trustworthy person to everyone

Perseverance – Continuing on even though things are hard or tough. Never giving up on your goals and ambitions. Sometimes certain things in life are hard or tough, but having perseverance will allow you to overcome these times and achieve your goals. This applies to school, work, training, and life in general. Sometimes we get an injury at training that causes us to take some time off to recover, or there is a technique or pattern that you are having difficulty with. Perseverance means that even though we are having difficulty, we wont quit, we will train harder and seeking the instructor’s assistance to help. If you are finding a certain technique hard, talk to your instructor or one of the seniors after class and they will be able to help you. Everyone has had difficulty with certain techniques, even your instructor and the black belts. Never be too embarrassed to ask for help.

Self Control – Knowing when to stop or to take a step back. Whether we are in a sparring ring, in the playground facing a bully, on the rugby field, or netball court, we must always have self control to know when to step away. Whether it is physical self control and knowing when to take it easy (Like when you are sparring a junior rank) or when you are having an argument with someone and you use mental self control not to say something that will hurt them. Self control is very important in any Martial Art, as we are training in combat, and our training allows us to have the tools to defend ourselves or family in a self-defence scenairo, but we need self control to not use these tools in the play ground or at times that are not required. Self control is fundamental in keeping the balance between reason and emotion.

Indomitable Spirit – This is a tricky one to explain, but basically it means to do the right thing even though things are tough and you are against the odds. For example, if you see someone being bullied on the bus, stand up and say something. This might make you feel uncomfortable doing it, but you are doing the right thing and the person being bullied will feel better having someone sticking up for them.

  • ‘I shall respect the instructor and the seniors’

Respecting the instructor and the seniors is something we should all do at all times. It comes down to respect. Your instructors and seniors have been training for years and years and have put in hundreds, if not thousands of hours into Taekwon-Do and that deserves respect.

Do you say ‘Yes Sir’ or ‘Yes Ma’am’ every time you are instructed to do a technique or asked a question?  Do you always bow to the instructor and the seniors when you enter the Dojang?  Do you allow the seniors through the door first, holding the door for them if needed? Do you listen intently when the are talking? Do you sit up straight and not talk when sitting in a group? Do you practice a technique or pattern at home, or study your theory like your instructor has asked? All of these things show respect.

  • ‘I shall never misuse Taekwon-Do’ 

Taekwon-Do is a martial art and should be used for self defense only and never as an attack. For example, if you are play fighting in the playground, don’t use Taekwon-Do kicks or knifehand strikes just to show you can. Defend yourself yes, but never use techniques for an attack unless you feel your life, or family’s life is at risk. This refers also to Self Control. The tools and techniques we use are for self defense only, or if we are in a sparring competition etc. Even within a competition, we are there to beat our opponent, not beat them up.

  • ‘I shall be a champion of freedom and justice’

This phrase means to be just and fair. To enable people to have the freedom to be themselves, not to be picked on, belittled, or bullied just because they are different to you. This is a phrase for every part of our lives. Knowing right from wrong, and trying to contribute your part to the world by treating people how you would like to be treated.

  • ‘I shall build a more peaceful world’

Living our lives by the oath and tenets of Taekwon-Do, each student contributes to building a more peaceful world. imagine if everybody did Taekwon-Do and lived by these tenets. there would be no crime,  no fights, no wars and conflicts. the world would be a peaceful place. Unfortunately not everyone lives by these tenets and some people are just out there to cause trouble. It is our role, as Taekwono-Do students, to help do our part and make our local world (Family, school, local communtity etc) , and more peaceful place. This can be a bit tricky to do, but the best way we can do this is leading by example. Demonstrating to others that we are living by the tenets and the student oath, and we contribute positively by giving back to the community and being good role models for juniors and those younger than ourselves.

General Choi Hong Hi

To sum up, we need to stop and think during certain situations we find ourselves in and ask ourselves “Is this following the tenets and student oath of Taekwon-Do?’ if it’s not, then correct it.

The student oath and tenets are more than just a speech we say at the beginning of every class, or a bit of theory we have to learn at Red Stripe, it should be part of who we are, what guides us in

our life decisions, and should become a part of who we are. General Choi had a desire to teach Taekwon-Do to everyone, to build a more peaceful world to eliminate conflict and fighting. it is our duty as Taekwon-Do members to continue spreading this message in his legacy.

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