General Choi spent a lot of time and effort developing the techniques and teaching them around the world. While he felt there were many Masters who were qualified to teach these techniques, he regretted that none were qualified to teach the Do. From General Choi’s last book “Moral Guide Book“, a collection of maxims and teachings of ancient wise men:

… the only way one can truly achieve the status as a man of Taekwon-Do is to go beyond the technical aspect and establish a lifestyle based on a solid code of morality.

The Founder left us a valuable resource: The Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do.

The word Do come from the Chinese word Dao which can be translated literally as “the road” or “the way”. The word Do have many meanings.

In the teaching of the martial arts, we could define the Do as “the way to become a better person and have a happier life”.

Chinese character for Dao


Korean character for Do

General Choi explained that his newly-designed martial art was not well known at the beginning (1955). To ensure the correct pronunciation of the name, he wrote it as three separate words: ” Tae”, ” Kwon”, and ” Do”.

With the publication of his first book in English, titled simply “Taekwon-Do”, he changed the spelling to ” Taekwon-Do”. General Choi explained that the change was designed to highlight the need for balance between the physical training (the tae and the kwon) and the mental training (the do).

The fundamental purpose of the Martial Arts is to produce good citizens who have good basic values, a strong mind and a strong body and most importantly, who are productive members of society.

According to The Philosophy of Taekwon-Do In order to become a productive member of society, one must:

 be at peace with himself or herself,
 feel good in one’s own skin.

To reach this state one must learn about the Do and apply it in our lives. When we are happy, we are able to reach out and help others. General Choi summed up the Taekwon-Do philosophy in the last sentences of the Student Oath:

 I shall be a champion of justice and freedom,
 I shall build a better and peaceful world.

It is only by cultivating values like peace, freedom, and justice that we can fulfill The Founder’s wish that all his students become productive citizens. For all Taekwon-Do practitioners, the ultimate goal is to contribute actively to building a better world with peace, freedom, and justice.

Big Influences on the Taekwon-Do Philosophy have:

 Lao Tzu
 The Buddha
 The Dalai Lama (modern Buddhism)



A Chinese philosopher, born 551 BC.

 TO BE:  Know yourself and improve yourself by self-evaluation and continuous education (training).  
 TO BEHAVE: Develop a harmonious family life through application of moral culture.  
 TO DO:  Use your know-how and hard work to bring order to the society you live in  
 TO LEAD: Work with wisdom and devotion to bring peace to the world  


A Chinese philosopher, said to be a contemporary of Confucius. Lao Tzu emphasized:

 respect for the natural world,
 the balance of ying and yang. We need to:
 work to protect the environment,
 achieve balance in our lives.



Siddhartha Gautama, born in 563 BC. founder of Buddhism; revered as the first Buddha. The Buddha taught:

 We must show respect for all living things.
 Problems are often caused by egotism.
 Humans are never satisfied.
 Unquenchable desire + lack of self-control + ignorance = suffering. To stop the suffering, we must learn to:
 abandon the ego,
 practice self-control,
 recognize universal values,
 develop our knowledge and judgement.

The DALAI LAMA – Modern Buddhism

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatzo, born in 1935, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Teachings:

 The key to creating a better and more peaceful world is to develop love and compassion for others.
 Individuals can make a difference in society, and we have a responsibility to do so.
 Note the similarities to the Taekwon-Do philosophy.

The Dalai Lama’s best-known books:

“The Art of Happiness” and “Ancient Wisdom, Modern World”.

The Tenets of Taekwon-Do

  • Courtesy
  • Integrity
  • Perseverance
  • Self-Control
  • Indomitable Spirit


Courtesy – Ye Ui

We express Courtesy by showing:

 Good manners
 Concern about our environment


-When attending Taekwon-Do classes, we follow the dress code and the rules about behavior.


Integrity – Yom Chi

We express Integrity by demonstrating:


and by being unbiased and recognizing potential conflicts of interest. It is essential that we avoid even the appearance of impropriety.


  We tell the truth.

  We would never use tricked boards for a breaking.

Perseverance – In Nae

Perseverance is a process that requires:

 A positive attitude
 Staying focused on a goal
 Overcoming difficulties
 “Bouncing back” after a failure


-After failing a test or grading, we continue to work hard to

prepare for the next try.

– We set reasonable goals, prepare action plans, adjust them

when necessary and continue to work until we are successful.

Self-Control – Guk Gi

We demonstrate Self-Control by:

 not being a slave to our emotions, desires, and impulses,
 analysing our thoughts,
 acting according to our principles.

Without Self-Control, it would be impossible to demonstrate the other four tenets.


We always think about the consequences before acting.


Indomitable Spirit – Baekjul Boolgool

We demonstrate Indomitable Spirit by:

 refusing to compromise our principles,
 standing up for justice,
 overcoming our fears,
 being courageous,
 taking reasonable risks.


  We make the right decision, even if it is unpopular.


Some instructors believe that teaching the Do means simply teaching the rules of protocol. But Taekwon-do students need to be taught more than the actions and the words required by the protocol. They need to learn the meaning of protocol and why we follow protocol. Taekwon-Do students everywhere understand the relationship between the Do and protocol.

The Korean military heritage is still strong in Taekwon-Do:

 the respect for authority,
 the emphasis on loyalty to the masters,
 the importance given to rules of protocol.

With a better comprehension of the Do and how it should be applied, both instructors and students will become more aware and vigilant. As all become better educated about the Do, the Taekwon-Do will continue to evolve.

The Do is not just an Oriental concept. It teaches universal values. The Do is the law of common sense. Main goals for teaching the Do are:

 Everyone will show respect for one another.
 Everyone will be treated fairly and with justice.

Teaching the Do students will become strong both physically and mentally. They will develop good basic values and those values will guide them to make wise decisions. Applying the Do will help students to be successful and have a happy life. Learning about the Do will prepare them to become good leaders. For example:

Without an understanding of the Do, a student who reaches a high-level black belt degree or who wins frequently in competitions could develop a big ego, becoming arrogant or disrespectful to others.

By applying the Do, the student will understand the importance of remaining modest and humble. The student will start to develop wisdom and become a good role model for his or her fellow students.

By learning and teaching the Do, Instructors will better understand the complete Taekwon-Do, not just the “Taekwon”.  They will set a better example for their students. Instructors will be justly proud of being able to guide their students on the right way to a happier life.

The principles of the Do require showing respect for everyone, regardless of age or rank. Instructors who apply the Do are more likely to use their position to have a positive influence on their juniors who will become better Taekwon-Do students, better citizens, and be able to reach their goal of having a happier life.

There are many serious social problems today. Many people, even those who are very wealthy, are not happy. By teaching the Do, Taekwon-Do help people to have a happier life. In many countries citizenship is no longer taught in the education system. By teaching the Do, the Taekwon-Do can fill this need. Taekwon-Do will be producing good productive citizens and future leaders who will have a positive influence on others.

The main goal of practicing Taekwon-Do as martial art is live according to basic universal values, this is Taekwon-Do as a way of life.