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The Trinity of Tae Kwon Do

Grand Master James S. Benko

The Trinity of Tae Kwon Do consists of the three major aspects of Tae Kwon Do; the Body, the Mind, and the Spirit. In order for an individual to develop into a complete and well-rounded person, he must cultivate each aspect of Tae Kwon Do. If only one or two of the aspects are developed, then a person, no matter how hard he trains, may never become a true Master of Art of Tae Kwon Do.

The first aspect of Tae Kwon Do is the body. When a person begins his training, he must first learn to stretch his muscles and get his body into physical condition to perform the movements of Tae Kwon Do. He works on kicks, stances, blocks, hand strikes, breathing, rhythm, balance, and much more in order to properly execute the techniques. The practice of these exercises and techniques are sharpening the individual's physical condition and thus developing a strong body. Every time he comes to class or trains at home, he is continuing to strengthen his body. This is the beginning. The first step toward the development of the total individual.

The second aspect of Tae Kwon Do is the mind. While learning the physical techniques of Tae Kwon Do, the individual is engaged in an intense edification process. He learns anatomy, how his body functions, what enables it to generate more power, and the weak points of the body so he can both protect his vital areas, and use the opponent's weak points to defend himself. The student is learning to focus his concentration and to set and reach goals which he may have felt were far beyond his capabilities. He learns to teach and help others and share his knowledge with other members of the dojang (school). He becomes confident, knowing he can defend himself, his family, and should the need arise, his country. He has also learned how not to fight. How to walk away from a confrontation. That when a person engages in physical conflict, no one wins. He learns it is better to help others so they to can learn the "Way" of Tae Kwon Do and help build a more peaceful world.

The third and final aspect of Tae Kwon Do is the spirit. The evolution of the spiritual aspect of Tae Kwon Do is achieved only after the physical and mental aspects have begun to unfold and take root. A person may have a strong body and he may possess a vast amount of knowledge but, in order to become a complete individual he must have vision. He must believe in an idea, other people, himself, and God. This stage of enlightenment comes when a person is at peace with himself. He must cultivate the ability to stand up for his beliefs, to not give in to others who lack the courage to stand by their convictions. The person who has developed the spiritual aspect of Tae Kwon Do has faith in not only himself, but those around him. He has become one with the tenets and teachings of Tae Kwon Do. He lives Tae Kwon Do every day of his life. He applies the tenets of Tae Kwon Do to his work, family and friends, and yes, even to his enemies: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control, and an Indomitable Spirit. He has reached total development. He has become a true student of the Art of Tae Kwon Do.

The trinity of Tae Kwon Do can be found in the positioning of the hands when performing Kwang-Gae, the hyung (pattern) required to reach first degree black belt. This positioning of the hands represents the body, mind and spirit, the trinity of Tae Kwon Do. The trinity can also be found in the knot formed in the belt when it is tied properly.

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