On Thursday, September 19, my students and I will be performing a TKD demonstration as part of NAC's fundraiser/birthday party celebration. See https://www.gsadvocacy.org/celebr8.html. During the demonstration, we will include a discussion as how TKD is a path to peace.
Peace is not simply an absence of violence but a way of being in the world. And peace begins with each of us. Through the daily practice of TKD, I can bring my body, mind, and spirit together. In TKD, I learn to focus my mind and to channel my energy.
From the first class of TKD and every class afterwards, we practice showing respect to ourselves and to each other. We do this practice through the traditional Asian practice of bowing to each other. The students bows to the instructor and the instructor bows to the students. Before a sparring match, the participants bow to each other.
This is key to non-violence. If we have to use force to restrain another person either to protect that person from doing self-injury or to protect another person, we use the force mindful of the other person's dignity as a human being. We would use minimal force required and would know how to apply this force.
There is the story of a Buddhist monk in a boat with other people. One of the men assaults a woman. The monk relates that using an umbrella he struck the man with loving kindness. Certainly, non violence would not prohibit us from using force to protect a person from self destructive behavior or doing harm to another person. But the moral requirement is to use such necessary force with loving kindness.
Using force skillfully requires intense practice to avoid over reacting or acting inappropriately. Although I have never had to use force against another person, I have moved into situations to help prevent impending violence. My TKD practice gave me the assurance that of the people present, I was the person most likely to be able to help.
TKD helps to create self-confidence. Aside from the benefits of self-confidence in everyday life, it also serves to create peace. Much of violence is based on fear and insecurity. If we are confident we do not have to prove ourselves to others through violence.
We begin and end each class with a brief period of meditation. For many people, this may be the first time they have sat quietly and let the mind settle down. This experience can lead to peace.
Each student experiences the spiritual dimension of TKD in their own way. For me as a Catholic, the energy of TKD is the spiritual energy of the Holy Spirit. In addition, almost from the beginning I have asked Mary to bless our TKD classes.
A central part of our TKD classes is learning forms. The forms are set patterns of blocks, punches, and kicks. As the students progress in their training, the forms become more complex. Learning and practicing these forms is the traditional way of becoming a martial artist.
In times of grief, I have found practicing the TKD forms a way to healing. It is a way of safely releasing energy that may be blocked by our sorrow and feeling overwhelmed.
For many people, TKD is a way of safely getting in touch with their anger. We all suffer situations where we may be demeaned. If we are not comfortable with our sense of anger, we may deny to ourselves that we are angry. For some people this unacknowledged anger can turn into depression. Through the TKD practice, we can get in touch with that anger and find a safe way of expressing it.
The TKD class provides a sense of community. Students are lined up according to rank with the more advanced students instructing and helping the newer students. This sense of a caring community can be very important.
If you have an interest in TKD or another martial art, I suggest you visit various martial arts schools. Observe the classes. Is the instructor knowledgeable? Is the sense of the class one of order and caring for each other?
When the student is ready, the instructor will appear.
To learn more about TKD and the work of the National Advocacy Center, please come to our celebration on Thursday, September 19 (https://www.gsadvocacy.org/celebr8.html). Thank you.