There are five tenets – that is, principles – of historic Taekwondo practitioners. The Tenets of Taekwondo trace thier history back to the Hwa Rang Do practices. (More on the history of Taekwondo here.)
Courtesy (Ye Ui)
One instructor put it simply: “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” It is the Golden Rule, found in many religions and philosophies. There’s a reason this tenet is first on the list. Showing courtesy to others is showing respect and understanding for others in all aspects of life.
Integrity (Yom Chi )
Integrity is a vital part of character. It can be thought of as doing the right thing. However, it’s broader than that. It’s adhering to a high code of values. One of my instructors said, “Are you able to look at yourself in the mirror and know you did the right thing in all situations?” Are you living your life as you should? Are you guilty of wrongdoing? Are you honest with yourself and with others?
Perseverance (In Nae )
Perseverance is more than not giving up in difficult situations. It’s also developing disciplines that enable you to accomplish your goals. This helps you through hard times. For instance, I blew out my knee in sparring; I could not physically participate in Taekwondo for a few years until I got it fixed. This tenet did not require me to continue my practice, but it did require me to live a life of integrity without Taekwondo for that time.
Self-control (Kuk Chi)
One of my instructors said, “There is only one person in your life you have complete control over, and you look at him/her every day in the mirror.” Part of self-control is developing the discipline to handle tough situations without out-of-control emotions or fighting; however, learning to control your personal habits, your eating, your work habits, and your relationships is also a large part of self-control.
Indomitable spirit (Baekjul Boolgool)
This is the culmination of the other four tenets. You’ve probably heard the expression, “Give 110%.” Do your best, not only in your Taekwondo training, but also in other aspects of your life. Do your best, try hard, be modest about your abilities, and be respectful of those who have already accomplished what you are working towards.
The Tenets of Taekwondo are often recited during testing or ceremonies along with the Taekwondo Oath.