8. The Basics
By Cutting Off
“Why is the teaching
of Taekwondo so complicated?”
“It is not complicated but simple. It only seems
so because you refuse to accept it.”
Mastering Taekwondo is not about attaining something but rather
transforming yourself through training. You cannot achieve Taekwondo
by adding something to yourself, yet you can find it in what
remains after you have cut yourself off from all superfluity.
Just as a sculptor chisels away stone to reveal the artwork
within, or the way a potter breaks old bowls to make new ones.
To practice and master Taekwondo is not about performing a given
movement but about becoming the motion itself. This “selfication”
– the transformation of the self – is the direction
in which all learning advances. Otherwise, there can be no true
This is universally valid for any kind of learning, be it mathematics,
foreign languages, history, philosophy or anything else. Learning
logical thinking in mathematics we come to master how to abandon
various ways of faulty reasoning to be left with the only possible
way in calculus. When you study a foreign language it is important
to abandon many aspects of your own speech in order to change
your habitual way of thinking and adopt the proper way of speaking
the foreign tongue. You can gain little truth if you seek simply
to add to your knowledge – memorizing historical facts
or quotations, for instance – rather than abandoning something
too. Every learning process is the act of being left with only
your necessary self following a process of acquiring and discarding.
When you yourself are a motion your entirety naturally adapt
to motion so that you can perform it without any unnecessary
intentions or any preceding motion. This natural motion is not
such a thing as can be controlled by thought. It is rather what
jumps forth prior to any thought. Through repetition and mastery
you should change yourself to the Taekwondo motion itself. The
entire process must be one of both cutting yourself off and
breaking yourself until nothing remains. It is the process of
eliminating everything that has coagulated within and then to
maintain oneself as water, without solidification, free to follow
the changes of nature. Only after this process can you become
the motion itself. When you can become the motion itself you
can also make the unconscious movement, subduing the opponent
by erasing yourself. Thus, the most proper distance will be
established between you and him and you will cope with everything
with an empty mind.
The characteristics of Taekwondo learning are in fact shared
by every aspect of life. Something is lost and something gained
every moment, but in truth you gain or lose nothing at all.
Ultimately you, the subject of that gain and loss, do not exist.
Although this fact produces an ill-conceived skepticism concerning
the world, there is actually no reason to be skeptical; there
is only an emptiness to be accepted.