Attacking your opponent with everything you have, when dealing
with his attack as a Taekwondo-Een you should handle yourself with
your fullness and should receive the attack with your emptiness,
having both fullness and emptiness in one. It is the same way in
which a drum receives the stroke of the drumstick. The drum, transforming
the stick’s stroke into sound, can remain a drum unbroken
and yet fully realized as itself because its interior is fully empty.
This emptiness is also at once a fullness, which produces the drum’s
harmony so that it receives the stroke of the drumstick into its
Fullness is the potential to produce
something from the inside while emptiness is potential to receive
and retain something. The fullness spoken of in Taekwondo’s
attack refers to a state wherein your position vis a vis the opponent
is so sound as to produce his subjugation, while emptiness refers
to the fact that his position in opposition to you is so disadvantageous
that you can receive and hold his defective movements.
Thus, when you are the Taekwondo-Een receiving the opponent’s
attack, you move all of yourself aside playing together with him
like water moving aside in the face of an oar. Therefore, you stand
aside close to his attack with your remaining parts, which have
yet to move aside, preventing him like the wave of water that holds
back the oar, and this also can be a sound attack. Accordingly,
his attack cannot but fail because it cannot reach your center,
and comes to struggle against the world because of your moving aside.
This is possible because you move your entire body at once, avoiding
his sharp attack with your slightest motion.
Since you avoid only the sharpest edge of the opponent’s
attack you can position yourself up close to him, and can strike
him at every proper moment. Because water never moves far from a
paddling oar, no sooner does the oar pass than water can move back
around and strike it. Because you as a Taekwondo-Een avoid only
the sharp point, accepting the soft aspect of the opponent’s
attack, you are never destroyed no matter the power of the attack.
All of this is possible when the opponent attacks your emptiness.
In this way, proper Taekwondo motion is to move one’s center
to the most proper position through the movement of one’s
entire body, no less when you are attacked than when you attack,
making one simple motion of the whole body from the fingertips to
the toes. Therefore, even if the motion were made slow and slight
it would appear fast and large; and since it is fast and large it
can absorb great power and shock. A wave of water can prevent a
ship from moving forward not because a great quantity of water strikes
the ship but because even when the water moves but a little it moves
altogether as one. This is why the opponent cannot catch you though
he rushes, and why you can withstand his powerful attack though
you may be weak.
All of this means one thing, namely, that the best way to avoid
and defend against the opponent’s attack is not to distance
yourself from it, but rather to enter into it, and thus to penetrate
him, keep yourself in him, and to hold him within you. Every attack
is to be composed of the motions of contracting and stretching.
It is a common reflex to draw oneself back from an opponent as he
prepares to strike. TAEKWONDO, however, teaches you to pierce him
suddenly and then to conceal yourself in his scattered place. This
is no different than one’s proper manner in life.