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Martial Arts In Korea Essay Sample

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Martial Arts In Korea Essay Sample


Practices which are coded and training of traditional nature incorporated in systems is what is commonly referred to as martial arts. They are many reasons for engaging in martial arts, but they serve a sole purpose of ensuring one can defend themselves and others from threats that are physical by defeating the opponent physically (Shaw, 2001).  They are also linked to Buddhist, Hindus, Dao, Shinto and Confucianism beliefs and they symbolize honor. In Asia, martial arts are believed to have originated from an Indian prince, Daruma, who had converted to being a monk in 550A.D. Respect, discipline, humility and restraint are some of the virtues of martial arts that are associated with the princes’ philosophy.

Martial arts in Korea

I set out to learn about the several martial arts that are associated to Korea and how tae kwon do is synonymous with this country.  The earliest form of martial arts in Korea is believed to have been organized in the peninsula of Korea as early as the 6th century and by a group with the name of Hwa rang (Shaw, 2001). The king known as Chin Hung gathered young male youths who were handsome and adorned them with fine clothes and taught them all martial arts forms of combat, Ki science and Buddhism.

All this was in a bid to defeat all the other surrounding dynasties which were ruled by Chinese. In addition to the hand combat, a combat fighting with feet’s was also incorporated by the Hwa Rang which is very common in martial arts. Women were in charge of the hierarchy of Hwa Rang and the soldiers were involved in many endurance exercises to make them physically fit (Shaw, 2001).

 The martial art system vanished in the 7th century when Korea was united and the citizens concentrated more on Buddhist and other arts. When the Yi dynasty came into power in 1392, Buddhist was abolished and Confucianism was embraced. This brought about an organized social structure and there was a rapid growth in education. Between 1418and 1450 King Sejon composed the Hangul language in a written form. This was a great invention as this is the indigenous language that was first to be developed in Asia independently and documented in a phonetic script.

Japan invaded and occupied Korea in 1902 ending the reign of Yi dynasty and all the martial arts associated to it. Korea was liberated by USA invasion of Japan in 1945 when the WW2 ended (Shaw, 2001). The Koreans were more adamant to protect themselves and their country from being ruled by another government. Those who created systems to govern Korea ensured the incorporation of styles in martial arts that they had learnt abroad and while working for the military of Japan (Shaw, 2001).

 These were Yong Shul, Hap Ki Do, Tae kwon do, Hwang and Tang Soo do Moo Duk which exist in Korea today.  Tae kwo do which involves both fist ad feet is the most advanced form of martial arts and it is commonly practiced in the word leading to it being a sport in the Olympics since 1984. Its origins are based in Korea which transformed it to an international sport through Dr Kim who was the president of the World Tae Kwon Do Federation. A grand master by the name Jhoon Rhee is believed to have introduced tae kwon do to the USA in 1959.Tae kwon do is the major martial art that is associated with Korea (Shaw, 2001).

 Korean is the formal language associated with taekwondo and thus for one to learn it successfully one has to have some knowledge of Korean languages. Tae kwon do is aimed at building a world that is more peaceful through the development of character, ethics, personality and morals that are positive. The main aim of taekwondo is developing a positive personality in an individual. These are perseverance, humility, patience, courage, self control, respect, loyalty, trust, and courtesy among others. One is also expected to develop a spirit and take responsibility towards protecting and respecting life in all forms. Tae kwon do does not discriminate against race, nationality or creed as its main aim is unifying individuals and bringing about peace to the world as a whole.

To attain the tae kwon do philosophy, maturity has to be achieved through the trinity of spirit, mind and body (Shaw, 2001).  The first training targets the body where an individual learns how to stretch the muscles to transform the condition of the body physically in preparedness of executing tae kwon do movements. The person learns techniques such as kicking, blocking, balancing and breathing among others.

 All these techniques aim at the development of strong bodies in the individuals due to the sharp physical conditions already created. During the physical training an individual is familiarized with his body by learning about the functions, anatomy, where power is generated and the body’s weak point. This enables a person to protect their vital parts sufficiently by using the weak points of an opponent. Endurance is taught in this art as high goal are set and they have to be accomplished. There is a lot of sharing of both knowledge and teachings among the school (dojang) members.

 A person’s confidence is built by knowing they can defend themselves, families and country well if the need arises. They are also taught to walk away from, confrontations and instead help each other. To complete the process spirituality is built through visions. One can believe in ideas, God, other people and themselves. There is an encouragement for one to stand up for what they believe in and not be swayed by other people. Taekwondo is very different from Judo as the latter originated from Japanese. For one to learn it, you have to communicate well in Japanese. The techniques of this art place an emphasis on throwing, strangling, pinning, locking of joints and immobilizing the opponent. Judo is a soft art that uses momentum, balance, and leverage principles in overcoming opponents. Judo techniques are basically learnt through observation and imitation and it concentrates more on self defense unlike tae kwon do which emphasizes speed, strength and power.

 I learnt that an expert in taekwondo is one who gets the black belt and is perceived to have reached the pinnacle. According to a research done by American psychiatrist association in 1994, taekwondo acts as a buffer for stresses that adults go through in life since there is a lot of sharing in group training. Parents have also substantiated this theory as children who practice it perform better in school and are better behaved that their non –practicing counter parts. Finkenburg (1990) confirmed that women who take tae kwon do training have higher personal, physical and identity and are more satisfied and self reliant. This is from his book titled: effect of participation in tae kwon do on college women self-concept.

There are several mental health attributes that are associated from training and this could be very important in redeeming individuals who are at the risk. It has been proved that delinquent juveniles benefit from tae kwon do and are less anxious, less aggressive and have a higher self esteem.

 They are also able to relate better with other people socially and more socially obliged (Wilkinson, 1996). When I first visited the tae kwon do community in Korea, I was treated with a lot of hospitality and respect. They welcomed me to join the community and learn about this great disciplined art as they referred to it. They started by teaching me the verse that I was to recite before the commencement of any class if I was to join them. This was: “with self confidence, courage and patience you can achieve anything” which they recited together as a group. What I loved most about this community is that the accepted everyone and stuck to the motto of bringing peace to the world through unifying individuals.

 They volunteered to teach me all the maneuvers and techniques of tae kwon do and welcomed me to join the do jang. They also explained to me the benefits of training in taekwondo as it would improve the way I looked at myself, viewed the rest of the world and improve the way I treated other people. I gained a lot of insight into tae kwon do as I learnt it was a unique form of martial training with so many benefits. I learnt that the aspects such as patience applied in the daily life happenings such as being stuck in the traffic or helping tutor a fellow student in a difficult unit.

Courage is something one can constantly practice when setting out to do a new thing, presenting something in class, extra. I could also borrow a lot from self confidence by accomplishing the goals I set for myself and not feeling left out of clicks in school. I learnt to treat other people with respect and not to dwell on the weaknesses they have but instead focus on their strengths. I also learned that I should respect all forms of authority in schools, home and the country thus reducing conflict. One should respect the courage of people who take up challenges even if they do not succeed. One is taught to look at any encounter positively and instead of making sure everything goes your way, you should strive to join other people to improve the world to be better that it is.

It is always good to be flexible and make sure you learn from any situation that life throws your way. These are just but a few things that I learnt from my encounter with the tae kwon do community.  I felt that the principles that governed the tae kwon do were applicable in everyone’s lives and they were aimed at completing a person physically, socially and emotionally. These principles are very vital to every one in the world. If we were to learn and apply the principles of tae kwon do, we would improve our self confidence and appreciate ourselves more. We would have the courage to face any challenges that we encounter in life and comfortably venture into anything that we focuss our minds into accomplishing.

A positive attitude towards those in authority would go along way in reducing crime in the society and conflict in schools. As per the beliefs of tae kwon do, by practicing in groups leads to an improvementof relationship, sharing and solving of problems. This has a positive effect on stress as people are able to find solutions in these groups. If more people were to engage in this art, we would see more tranquility in the world as people would be ready to assist, listen, support and love each other.

Virtues, such as; humility, Respect, loyalty integrity, goodness, perseverance and courtesy that are taught in tae kwon do would go a long way in improving the mess that is present in the world. By practicing the physical techniques of tae kwon do, one is able to remain healthy by being in a superb physical shape. This goes a long way in keeping diseases at bay, reducing cost of healthcare and prolonging life in the long run.

Work cited:

Koo, E. (2000). Tae kwon do and Korean language education, Retrieved on 27th march from http://arts.monash.edu.au/korean/ksaa/conference/17eunheekoo.pdf

Shaw, S. (2001). The history of the Korean martial arts, Retrieved on 27th march from http://scottshaw.com/history/

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