I spoke with a friend today who had just watched his young son complete a belt test in Taekwondo. The youngster had been one of thirty students, all presenting the skills they had learned in order to move from their introductory white belts to the first color belt, yellow. My friend was struck by the students' discipline as well as their accomplishments. He commented that his son was not so attentive at home. He also noticed that the children were filled with pride and joy.
I was not surprised by my friend's account. I, too, am a student of Taekwondo. Like the other stylized methods from the rich martial culturesof the world, Taekwondo combines mental and physical discipline that shape the mind and body. A student develops the power and techniques for self-protection, and the mental acuity needed to focus all energy on one purpose. The Black Belt is the student's initiation into a worldwide community. At the school I attend students are expected to demonstrate integrity, perseverance, self control and an indomitable spirit. Young and old alike gain the skills, and move together in a synthesized presentation. It is training for self defense. It requires strength and grace. It is combat art.