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The founders and masters of virtually every style of martial art have inferred, if not actually stated, that the goal of their followers should be to develop a refined moral character.  Since traditional martial arts such as Taekwon-Do are invariably influenced by their cultural heritage, each style of martial art has its own version of a code of ethics by which the student should live, both while practicing the art and in daily life.  On close examination, we find that the codes of conduct and tenets of any martial art are closely tied to the code of military behavior for the ancestors of each art.  As the Code of Bushido is evident in the Japanese martial arts, so the Code of the Hwa-rang is evident in the Tenets of Taekwon-Do as developed by General Choi Hong-Hi.  The Student Oath and Tenets developed by General Choi are as follows: 




Taekwon-Do Student Oath 

Observe the tenets of Taekwon-Do

Respect the instructor and seniors

Never misuse Taekwon-Do

Be a champion of freedom and justice

Build a more peaceful world



Tenets of Taekwon-Do





Indomitable spirit


General Choi Hong Hi

Taekwon-Do is a fight­ing art, and the ultimate test of one's competence is the ability to defend oneself in a fight.  This test, however, should not be just a function of who is bigger, stronger, or faster, but rather a test of refined technique and skill in physical combat.  To attain this high level of skill in Taekwon-Do requires great attention to the details of technique, theory, and attitude.  Concentration on these areas of training and study ultimately results in proficiency for the dedicated martial artist.  In this type of training, hardship is the anvil that forges moral character; with perse­verance, self-control, and indomitable spirit as the hammer, improve­ment follows.  This hard­ship has a way of teaching us the need for courtesy, integrity, and self-control by making progress more difficult without them.  In a complex interaction of cause and effect, the perfection of martial arts skills is intimately tied to the development of moral character, and character in turn is tied to the effort put forward in developing these skills.  Therefore, regardless of one's goal in martial arts, a well-balanced emphasis on the physical, intellectual, and moral aspects of training is essential.

The interest of the average Japanese martial artist in the Japanese lang­uage and Samurai culture is a good example of how the cultural heri­tage is ingrained in other arts.  In Taekwon-Do our uniforms are designed in the oriental tradition, and we use many Kor­ean commands to direct our work­outs.  Our patterns (teul) also show this influence in both their Korean names and their histories, which represent various aspects of Korea and its culture.  Understanding the origins of this heritage through pattern histories establishes a traditional link between ourselves and the various individuals throughout the 5,000 years of Korean history that have contributed significantly to this art.


Many students often consider the history of patterns a simple string of words to be memorized for testing. These historical events occurred on the other side of the world, often thousands of years ago, and seemingly have little to do with our lives today.  Delving deeper into these histories, however, is beneficial to understanding the spirit of the Tenets of Taekwon-Do.  They give us a picture of the meaning of the Tenets of Taekwon-Do by illustrating some of history's most shining examples.

Unfortunately for students of Taekwon-Do, the records of Korean historical figures are scarce.  As a nation, Korea has suffered several major invasions and has lived under the domination of foreign forces many times.  These occupa­tions totaled hundreds of years under the rule of governments bent on the cultural genocide of the Korean people, often including the destruction of historical records and art.  It is our great loss that the records of the greatest Hwarang heroes are not nearly as complete as those of their Samurai neighbors with whom our society is so fascinated today.

When striving for high ideals in daily life such as those outlined in the Tenets of Taekwon-Do, we can benefit by iden­tifying people who are fine examples of the desired traits.  It is worth taking note of these unique individuals and using them as yardsticks of our own progress.  However, because most of us are full of character flaws, good examples of moral character are hard to come by in our society; such exceptional individuals occur all too infrequently in the course of history.  If we do not find individuals to inspire us in today's world, the examples set by those in the history of the development of Taekwon-Do are all the more valuable.  The founders of Taekwon-Do have identified several such individuals, or specific events that personify these characteristics in Korean history by naming the Chang-Hon patterns after them.  For the colored belt ranks, these range from Cheon-Ji to Chung-Mu.



In examining pattern histories more closely, we note an apparent increase in the importance of each as the rank it represents increases.  Cheon-Ji, for example, is significant as a beginning, but the legend of Dangun represents the very soul of the Korean warriors who give us our art.  Individuals such as An Chang-Ho and An Jung-Geun typify the meaning of loyalty and dedica­tion to a cause.  But, perhaps even more memorable are the contribu­tions of Weon-Hyo, Yi-I, and Yi-Hwang.  They not only significantly redirected the mental attitude of the warriors and general society of their day, but also had a lasting influence on philosophy and religion throughout the world, even to this day.  Finally, the Hwarang warriors, their code of honor, and the exemplary life and deeds of Admiral Yi Sun-Sin are seen as direct examples of the martial spirit of Taekwon-Do to which we aspire.  With this in mind we shall begin our discussion of the histories of the Chang-Hon pat­tern set with "The Beginning", Cheon-Ji.

Chinese Calligraphy for Taekwon-Do by General Choi Hong-Hi

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