the distance that results when Haneul (Heaven) and Tang
(Earth) unite? Distance refers to what is between you and
your opponent, your will and his will. That both of you
change means that everything is constantly in flux. Distance
in Taekwondo continuously changes. It is the relationship
between you and your opponent.
That you as a man intend to do something means that you
intend to change something with the use of your mind and
body. Thus, what you wish to do at any given time is intimately
related to what you and your opponent are like. The opponent
in Taekwondo represents the world. Thus distance in Taekwondo
is determined by a complex of factors; you and your opponent’s
poses and intentions, the spatio-temporal distance between
the two of you, and so forth. And each of these factors
has at each moment its own distance, which in turn is unified
into an entirety determining the whole distance.
‘Distance’ in Taekwondo is simple. Though it
may rely on many factors in you and your opponent, its entirety
is ultimately a non-distinctive oneness. Those who practice
Taekwondo can feel its simplicity, just as a song is in
the end but a simple tune though it is constituted of melody,
rhythm, lyrics and other qualities. And just as it is possible
to sing a song without really considering its melody, rhythm,
and lyrics, so the distance of Taekwondo is not found in
the distinctive analysis of each factor but merely as a
skilled motion. However, just as you can sing a song better
with an understanding of its melody and rhythm, so you can
better establish distance in Taekwondo with a sound knowledge
of the factors involved.
You should always keep yourself at the most ideal distance
when practicing Taekwondo. The ideal distance is the one
wherein your opponent’s intentions fall short while
yours are attained. This is called “Taekwondo distance”.
When you as a Taekwondo-Een know the proper distance you
will also know what motion you should and can make in any
given state. When you know your proper distance you know
yourself. When you know your opponent’s distance you
will know what kind of attack he will make in any given
state, and thus how you should defend against it. When you
know your opponent’s distance you know your opponent.
When you grasp both distances as one you will understand
In Taekwondo distance the opponent’s attack falls
short while yours can reach him. As a Taekwondo-Een you
can attain this proper distance only when you erase yourself
and harmonize with everything in the world. You can maintain
yourself in that continuously changing distance when you
maintain everything of yours in its proper place, following
the most proper motions. This is why, when keeping this
right Taekwondo distance, you can always protect yourself
and subdue your opponent. Then we can say you know everything
In this manner, understanding distance is not merely judging
with your brain but responding to and coping with everything
around you with proper motion at the proper distance. This
is true knowledge, not only in Taekwondo but in all things.
This sort of Taekwondo knowledge is “empty knowledge”.
Empty knowledge implies not that you know nothing but rather
that the knowledge you have contains nothing false. In other
words, there is nothing you do not know. With that, what
more do you need to know?