The philosophy of Taekwon-Do is summarized in the tenets and the oath.
Tenets of Taekwon-Do
There are five tenets defined in the ITF.
Courtesy (Ye-ui / 예의, 禮儀)
Showing courtesy to all, respecting others, having manners as well as maintaining the appropriate etiquette at all times, both within and outside the dojang (도장) (designated training area).
Integrity (Yeom-chi / 염치, 廉恥)
Although it may be similar, this form of integrity takes on a wider role than defined in the common dictionary. In Taekwondo, integrity means not only to determine what is right or wrong but also having the conscience to feel guilt if one has done wrong and to have the integrity stand up for what is right.
Perseverance (In-nae / 인내, 忍耐)
One will persevere time and time again until they have achieved a result which is adequate towards what one was trying to achieve.
Self-control (Geuk-gi / 극기, 克己)
This means to not only have control over one’s physical acts, but also their mental thoughts and actions.
Indomitable spirit (Baek-jeol-bul-gul / 백절불굴, 百折不屈)
To have indomitable spirit means to have the courage to stand up for what you believe in, no matter what odds you are up against, and to always give 100% effort in whatever you do.
Taekwon-Do Student Oath
I shall observe the tenets of Taekwon-Do. (我应当遵守跆拳道精神)
All students must swear to carefully observe, acknowledge and live by each one of the taekwon-Do tenets. Here is a brief and basic explanation of each:
I shall respect the instructor and seniors. (我应当尊重师长和前辈)
A student vows to respect their instructors and those senior to them (both in age and rank). An instructor must also act respectfully to all students and persons in order to be respected and therefore not misusing Taekwon-Do.
I shall never misuse Taekwon-Do. (我绝不滥用跆拳道)
One will never misuse Taekwon-Do to harm another, for their own personal gain or for any other manner that is unjust (this one is particularly important in any martial art, not just Taekwon-Do, as a trained martial artist could easily kill a person in unarmed close combat).
I shall be a champion of freedom and justice. (我应当成为自由与公平的倡导者)
The 4th line, “I shall be a champion of freedom and justice” can apply to many areas of life and although many may think one would have to do something amazing to achieve this, this part of the oath can be respected by even the littlest things in ones daily activity. If one becomes more open-minded to understanding others ideologies or the way others go about their lives instead of being quick to judge, then maybe the world would be a more understanding and accepting place. Thus allowing people to have the freedom they deserve. By accepting this belief one is bringing justice to this world and therefore being a champion of justice. As we often see, conflicts can occur over common misconceptions of information. One must understand the full story and have all the facts before he can truly make a proper judgement.
I shall build a more peaceful world. (我应使世界更和平)
The final line of the oath is “I shall build a more peaceful world”. One can also easily obtain this goal by going about their daily lives in a more peaceful manner. If everyone did this, the world would obviously become a more peaceful place. As we often see, conflicts can occur over common misconceptions of information. One must understand the full story and have all the facts before he can truly make a proper judgement. However, this does not mean a student cannot defend themselves against aggression directed towards themselves as that would defeat some of the purpose of Taekwon-Do, an art of unarmed self-defence.