In order to maintain the best balance in
every pose and movement of Taekwondo so that you can shift
fluently from move to move, you should maintain a settled
center. What is a settled center? We can easily imagine
what is meant by a stable one. This, however, is not good
enough and a settled center in Taekwondo ought to attain
a level where it can apply itself to every change in swift
motion. Nature, which correct Taekwondo resembles in its
essence, possesses such a firm and balanced center that
she generates and contains infinite change with no confusion
in her order. This settled center of nature always lives
in the empty and constant. Following such an example, Taekwondo-Een’s
training cannot be properly established until it obtains
just such a firm center. In the growth process one cannot
walk before one can stand firm.
The non-swaying center is naturally low.
The low center can be firm relying on the stability of the
entirety. Only with deep roots can a tree withstand the
severe challenge of the hurricane or drought. On the other
hand, a fast moving center is naturally high, riding the
flow of nature high where it can avoid obstructions. A thing
can fall fast because it starts from a high spot. The top
branches of a tree sways faster than its lower ones. The
outer rim of a wheel spins faster than its center.
The essence of the Do of all things is change
not fixity. However, just as man’s learning moves
from the immutable to the changeable and man’s thinking
expands from distinction to that which lies beyond distinction,
Taekwondo training should begin with an understanding of
a firm and fixed center to eventually obtain a center within
rapid motion. You cannot understand the two are beyond distinction
until you grasp the distinction between them. This explains
why in Taekwondo you are first trained to develop a strong
waist and legs.
Your waist is to a tree’s trunk what
your legs are to its roots. How can a tree with shallow
roots and weak trunk stand firmly and push out branches
and leaves despite the challenges of biting winds or scorching
sun? A firm and stable center comes from the strength of
one’s waist and legs and the temperate motion of Taekwondo
in turn depends upon that firm center. The low center is
stable and unbending while the high center is so supple
as to adapt to everything. Make the two into one. You can
develop a low center through hard training, and this will
bring you both of the low and the high center in one. At
the end of this course you shall understand how to possess
both in one; how to maintain a center of change within a
firm stable center and how to have your center both low
and high at once. Only then can you possess an empty center,
imitating the virtue of nature.
The center is like an axle regulating balance.
As balance is obtained in the unison of Tang (Earth) and
Saram (Man), Tang expands harmonized with the world while
Saram expands keeping itself, which is to be pursued when
the center regulates the balance. On the other hand, the
center is where the opponent continuously aims his attack.
A correct attack proceeds towards the center because your
entire defense hinges upon the center of motion and vitality.
The center which regulates motion is even connected to the
vital points of the entire body along the Kyongnak, which
demonstrates how intimately motion and life are interrelated.
As a Taekwondo-Een you should train for
a stable center from the beginning because you must be able
to regulate your balance in order to defend yourself and
become harmonized in the opposition between your opponent
and the world. This stable center is not stability per se
but rather the ability to adapt yourself to change. In this
manner the center of change is at once stable and firm.
It is the empty center.
When you can adapt yourself to every change
with your settled center there can be no difficulty in realizing
every intention of your will. Thus the importance in practicing
Taekwondo lies not in the rapid movement of hands and feet
but in the rapid movement of the trunk. Skillful kicks and
punches originate in a skillful pose and motion of the waist
and trunk. It is impossible to move the trunk without moving
the center. The movements of hands and feet accompany and
fill up that of the trunk.
No attack can succeed in subduing the opponent
without the accompanying movement of the trunk even if the
hands and feet have been rigorously trained. Likewise, no
matter how strong one’s arms and legs may be, no defense
can counter an opponent’s power without the trunk
effectively dodging and parrying it. Therefore, you should
control your opponent mindful that your hands and feet follow
the movement of the trunk. Consequently, there will remain
no distinction between the trunk and the hands or feet.
Only when you move the center of the trunk properly will
your hands and feet move naturally and with proper speed
between yourself and your opponent.