Q: What are the Korean commands used at the beginning and during Tae Kwon Do training?

A: Thank you for your question. We appreciate all of them.  Please remember that there is no substitute for real-time learning in class.  If there is anything not understood in class, not only is it permissible, but encouraged – for students to publicly ask questions for the education and clarification to all present.

cha ryuht :attention
choon bi :ready
bah ro :return to starting position
dwi uro dorah :about face
dorah :turn
elosoh :stand
gomahn :stop (also “mum cho“)
geuk gi hyang ha yoh :face the flag
jwa woo hyang woo :face each other
sah bum nim keh :face instructor/master
sun bae nim keh :face senior student
simsa kwan nim keh :face examiner/tester
dobok dahnjung :fix your uniform
dhee dahnjung :fix your belt
hai sahn :class dismissed (also “hae cho“)
jonglee :line up (also “ji hap” and “jung yul“)
kyung nae :bow
ahnjoe :sit
kool o angi :kneel (kneeling)
bah ro angi :sit in lotus position (yoga posture)
bahl bah kwah :switch your stance (switch your feet)
koo ryung op see :in your own time
seijak :begin
shiuh :relax
kalyeo :break (or stop)
kae sok :continue

Tae Kwon Do: Shattering Life’s Barriers

Smashing boards!, bricks!, concrete paving blocks!, ceramic tiles!,…replete with loud screams, contorted facial expressions, wood splinters or masonry particles flying and gasps from witnesses as the martial artist releases her energy burst into and through the objects at hand… Such is the stuff of some of the physical demonstrations performed by martial artists.

So let’s look at what’s going on here.  In order to accomplish these feats, the martial artist combines a collection of qualities and ways of being – all at once:

  • He is clear with his intention.
  • She engages her technique correctly – efficiently and directly
  • He “brings it on” with full power.
  • She directs intense focus – being present in the moment and undistracted.
  • She sees the final outcome before it has happened!
  • And he hits his target! (which is BEYOND the boards)

With all of these elements present, success is virtually guaranteed!…

So you what’s the point of such feats?  On the surface, it’s all about the martial artist demonstrating his effectiveness properly executing that particular technique.  Below the surface however, there is much greater meaning… it’s a metaphor for life!  Think about it…  The boards are obstacles (life circumstances), in the way of a target (a particular goal or desire) which lies just beyond, with onlookers (all our relationships in life) present and the moment of truth (our recurring moments of choice) at hand…  As the practitioner successfully “breaks through” the boards, she begins to realize the profundity of the moment and its correlation to all other situations in life – from the smallest to the largest.

So whatever you want to accomplish in life be it large or small –tap into the martial artist in you and apply the principles of board-breaking!

  • He is clear with his intention.
    • Be clear with your goal
  • She engages her technique correctly – efficiently and directly
    • Take actions that make progress toward your goal
  • He “brings it on” with full power.
    • Act with full commitment
  • She directs intense focus – being present in the moment and undistracted.
    • Be intensely focused and don’t allow yourself to be distracted
    • She sees the final outcome before it has happened!
      • Hold a clear vision of the final outcome – see it already so
    • And he hits his target! (which is BEYOND the boards)
      • Keep going until you reach your destination (going through, around or beyond your circumstances)!

…And watch as all who know you take notice!…And be the example for and give permission to all those around you to do the same!!

Tae Kwon Do: Visualize to Materialize

Visualization is an incredibly powerful tool, an absolute staple in an authentic martial arts practice.  Martial artists visualize detailed scenarios both ahead of time and in real time in order to greatly improve and enhance their performance.

Visualization ahead of time serves as a form of actual practice.  The way this works is fascinating and profound and is only partially understood by modern science.  What is understood is that with clear, detailed visualization, the entire nervous system is engaged.  From the perspective of the nervous system, it is a “real” event!  The amazing result is that all the beneficial results from “actual” practice, also occur from the “virtual” practice of visualization!  In other words, on a neurological level, your brain and the rest of your nervous system, don’t get the difference.  A classic example of this for martial artists is the repeated visualization of breaking boards with a specific technique.  As the execution is visualized over and over again, the necessary and corresponding neural pathways are literally generated to facilitate the “real-world” event.  Additionally, the practitioner has the psychological, and emotional confidence of having succeeded a number of times already.  By the time the event is “realized” in the material world, it is but a continuum in a long series of successes.

Visualization in real time serves to enhance the “real-world” experience as it is actually happening by adding dimension.  A classic example for martial artists occurs during the execution of hyungs or katas (predetermined patterns of movement, against and imaginary opponent, performed individually).  Though the “actual” opponent is not present, the martial artists can visualize the opponent’s presence along with detailed, specific  attacks in order to make the event “real”.  The entire experience is elevated in this case – and if done well, even an onlooker will actually “see” the attacker.

The most exciting part of visualization is that it is available to us all!  It takes very little time.  It can be done anywhere.  It takes no money.  And we need no one’s approval or permission.  Visualization will be effective in any context and can be applied to any thing or idea.  The two most naturally effective times to visualize are in bed, just before falling asleep and then again, just upon waking, before rising from bed.

Awareness Insights for Everyday Life…

The Martial Arts are often misrepresented and misunderstood — as aggressive, excessive and egocentric by media “stars”, — as sloppy, silly or seeming to lack larger meaning by many students and instructors inadequately taught or driven by selfish agendas. Practiced to their potential however, martial arts offer a vehicle to a rich, balanced and connected world!

The ultimate goal of a true martial artist is to be a giver – a contribution to the context that he/she is operating in.  So, let’s work backward from here.  In order to be a contribution, one must be capable.  And capability grows from awareness … of everything…

So, increasing our awareness is the first step in the process  — that ultimately leads to a better world!

Now, while jumping to a BETTER WORLD may be too big a step for many of us – “too much to wrap our brains around” – “can’t get there from here”… all of us can get our heads around increasing our awareness – especially if we start with small accessible steps.   One of the most effective ways to increase our awareness is to increase what we notice.  Following are a few simple twists we can make with familiar tasks and everyday situations to notice in new ways and increase our awareness:

  1. use your less coordinated hand to accomplish ordinary tasks
    1. brushing your teeth
    2. holding and dialing the phone
    3. shaving
    4. writing your name
    5. opening a jar or bottle
    6. inserting keys into a lock
    7. handling office equipment/tools (scissors, stapler, stamps, screw driver, etc.,…)
    8. holding your fork/spoon while eating
    9. holding vessels while pouring
  2. close eyes with ordinary tasks:
    1. put on socks/stockings/underwear
    2. shower
    3. wash hands
    4. fold clothes
    5. dial the phone
    6. type
    7. walk (in a safe obstacle-free area)
    8. eat
    9. floss your teeth
    10. listen to music
    11. talk on the phone
  3. slow way down with ordinary tasks:
    1. chew food slowly and deliberately, noticing textures and flavors
    2. breath deliberately and slowly – see how slowly you can make it
    3. slow your heartbeat (through intention and concentration)
    4. get dressed at half speed

Of course there are many others.  See if you can think of a few twists of your own, as you try some of these.  Through it all – notice what you notice…  How much are you noticing that you never noticed before?  Now that you notice these things, what else is possible for you to notice?  Notice all that you can, and keep noticing – and as you do – your awareness will rise.