I shall observe the tenets of taekwon-do.

I do not believe. I know. — Carl Jung

One of the first things I remember being intrigued by at KOJO Academy of Taekwon-do was the peace and joy I felt walking in the dojang, or training space. I couldn’t believe my eyes — I was watching people fight, breaking boards and bricks, and still there was a sense of calm. I was accorded every respect as if I trained as well. I wasn’t even a student of the martial arts, just a friend of one who was.

I waited almost two years to start training — filling my head with the fear of rejection, of being laughed at, of not fitting in. I was an overweight, very withdrawn person that did not want to be seen by anyone and yet who craved attention from everyone. The warmth and respect accorded me by complete strangers was overwhelming at first, and at times, still is.

Since starting training in taekwon-do, I have realized that part of the peace and warmth found in the dojang exists because of the people who train here and of the things that they hold dear.

Like many others, I had this image in my mind of martial arts as a mere method of fighting. Even knowing someone who had trained for years in a variety of the arts, I believed this to be true.

I saw the posters on the walls of the school and thought no more of them than I did of the posters of equipment that hung on the bathroom walls. Five fluorescent posters of “Tenet Teaching Dragons.“ Courtesy Curt. Indomitable Spirit Don. Self-control Sophie. Perseverance Pete. Integrity Ingrid. The posters were cute — but I could not see their importance. Who thought this stuff up? It was too “precious” — and made no real impact.

But that was then, and this is now.

Now, when things get out of hand, all it takes is a quick “Sophie” in passing from a friend to remind me to keep my emotions in check. I found myself thinking things like “Pete” as a mantra during the Christmas season when running on empty at the end of a ten hour retail shift. These “Tenet Teaching Dragons” have seeped into my mind and my heart. Perhaps that best sums up why the tenets are so important to me.

Tenet comes from the Latin word tenere, meaning to hold. According to the dictionary, a tenet is “an opinion, doctrine or principle held as true by a person, more often by an organization.” These five “simple” words open a world of ideas and concepts to understand and grapple with. They also form a sense of security, something to fall back on when life seems to be getting out of hand. Not to be confused with religion, they inspire one to be responsible for one’s self.

Random thoughts on the tenets of taekwon-do.

Example is the best precept. — Aesop

Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways: the point, however, is to change it. — Karl Marx

The test, surely, of a creed is not the ability of those who accept it to announce their faith; its test is its ability to change their behavior in the ordinary round of daily life.
– Harold Laski, I Believe

The object of studying philosophy is to know one’s own mind, not other people’s.
– William Ralph Inge

Not having a goal is worse than not reaching one. — Robert Schuller

As you can change your handwriting by constant practice, so you can change your mind pattern by constant practice of positive and constructive thoughts. – Shivananda

At all times gaze into the heights and keep on mounting. If you aim at what is low, you will sink down into the netherworld. Accustomed to take the even, easy road, you have almost lost the ability to aspire after the sublime. Although you are in the habit of seizing opportunities as they present themselves at every moment, you fail to use this faculty in the right direction. Make a sustained effort to aim at the highest, and if your eyes cannot always remain turned toward the sky, you can surely at least keep them fixed straight ahead. The courage to climb upward comes through enterprise and perseverance. Courage is required in whatever one does; courage itself is power. — Ananda-mayee Ma

“What is morality?” she asked.
“Judgement to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, courage to act upon it, dedication to that which is good and integrity to stand by the good at any price.” — Ayn Rand

The thing always happens that you really believe in;
and the belief in a thing is what makes it happen.
– Frank Lloyd Wright

Far away, there in the sunshine are my brightest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to folow where they lead. — Unknown

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