Tenets of Taekwondo – Character Development

Why are the Tenets of Taekwondo Important?

Our Taekwondo students are required to memorize the Tenets of Taekwondo. However, these concepts are relevant to all martial arts and people of all walks of life. Beyond any physical capabilities, or development of martial arts techniques, our desire is for all of our students to become people of excellent character. Our younger students are still growing and learning what kind of people they want to be. As adults, we should be constantly striving to become better, kinder, more resilient.

Each tenet describes a characteristic that we want to deeply ingrain in each practitioner. You’ll often hear that martial arts helps develop character and discipline. This is true in many ways. Our tenets provide a list of what aspects of character and discipline we are building. We find these characteristics universally important, regardless of age, gender, religion, or culture.


The first tenet of Taekwondo is Courtesy.

Courtesy is kindness. Use your manners. You’ll hear yes sir and yes ma’am constantly in our dojang because addressing others with respect is one of the most basic forms of courtesy. By calling our students sir and ma’am, we show that you should also be courteous to those in your authority and care. Your personal feelings about someone don’t have to dictate whether you show them courtesy and respect.  

From professional courtesy, to being kind to others in your own home, to practicing patience with everyone, conduct yourself well. 


The second tenet of Taekwondo is Integrity.

We all know a person who has been untrustworthy. Whether someone lied about something important, cheated while playing a game, or simply shifted blame to someone else, all those acts can break trust and ruin personal credibility. Integrity involves taking responsibility for your words, choices, and actions. Breaking trust happens easily and quickly. Earning it back takes a lot of time, and trust may not ever be fully restored.

Do what is right, even if no one will ever know. Dishonesty will ruin friendships, relationships, careers, and reputations.  


The third tenet of Taekwondo is Perseverance.

“Purposefully pursuing a course of action despite difficulty, resistance, or discouragement”

Sounds pretty tough, doesn’t it? 

Perseverance requires mental toughness. In a single martial arts class, you will experience difficulty, resistance, and probably discouragement. However, you will also experience success, progress, and encouragement. It is easy to become frustrated trying to perform a skill that takes many years, even decades to master. 

Sometimes the difficulty comes from outside factors. Long hours at work, family obligations, mental health… all of these are reasonable excuses to drop your goals of getting fit, earning your black belt, competing, etc. Learn to overcome those hurdles, in whatever way you can.

Perseverance doesn’t make exciting marketing materials. If our tagline read “We’ll teach you perseverance”, I don’t think we’d have too many students excited to try a class! 

Over and over again we hear, “I wish I had never quit.” Perseverance is grit. Show up when you are tired, sore or frustrated. Train even when you don’t feel motivated. Be persistent in your pursuit of excellence.


The fourth tenet of Taekwondo is Self Control.

Control yourself! If you were the chatty, energetic kid in school, you’ve heard this more times than you can remember! And we all know that the kid on the playground who retaliates is always the one who gets in trouble.

Exercising self control comes in many forms. Control over one’s body is developed through years of repetition of movements. While working with a partner, controlling techniques ensures that your training partners are safe. Increased mind to body awareness makes students realize when they are nervously swaying side to side, or picking at their belt. Emotional control is one of the more difficult, yet most important aspects of self control. Your mental state can dictate the trajectory of your training, the rest of the day, your week, and more. Emotionally responding to a stimulus is part of being human. We work to control our outward response. Develop mechanisms that help you remain calm during moments of frustration, anger, or disappointment. This allows you to make rational decisions about how to respond, instead of relying on knee-jerk reactions that you may regret.

Don’t just react to the world around you, choose how you want to respond.


The fifth tenet of Taekwondo is Indomitable Spirit.

Indomitable spirit is the exciting end result of all that gritty perseverance. After working hard and overcoming obstacles, you develop a strong mindset that allows you to push through doubts, fears, or nerves.

Look at your own mentors or people who you admire. I doubt any of those people got to where they are without setbacks, rejections, and failures.

Having an indomitable spirit means that nothing will keep you down. You’re willing to set high standards and lofty goals because you know- It’s only impossible until you do it!