What is the meaning of the opponent in Taekwondo? The opponent whom you face in Taekwondo is a simple manifestation of the world and represents in his essence the world entire that you cannot avoid facing in life. Knowing these facts you can understand the reason why the principles of Taekwondo, which come from the conflict between you and your opponent, can also be applied to all life situations. This is because no matter what kind of situation you may find yourself in, everything is to be determined in the relation between you and the world. In Taekwondo the relationship between you and your opponent has both social and natural aspects.
Whatever the meaning of opponent in Taekwondo, he must first be a man. This means, Taekwondo has its most basic roots in the relationship between people. Thus, Taekwondo stops being Taekwondo when an opponent is ignored or dismissed. This means that you, as a true Taekwondo-Een, must accept your opponent. TAEKWONDO includes acceptance of one's opponent, which in turn implies that you as a Taekwondo-Een acknowledge and respect him as a human being. Therefore, by necessity Taekwondo contains etiquette. It is essential. It is a profound and mysterious aspect of Taekwondo that its essence includes both the etiquette of respectfully acknowledging one's opponent and the conflict of subduing him, and that these extremities are correlated into one. It is, however, rather natural that everything in the world also takes this form.
Etiquette lends people their humanity and our affairs their value. Therefore, always conducting oneself in the proper manner does not run contrary to utility. Proper etiquette can be a useful defensive weapon by allowing you to conquer the mind of your opponent. If you ignore etiquette you can be subdued by a correct Taekwondo-Een at any time. On the other hand, keeping yourself courteous to the strong will be enough to save yourself, while keeping courteous to the weak will be sufficient to gain you the respect of others, which demonstrates how TAEKWONDO is coherent with etiquette.
What then is etiquette? It is a proper expression of man's right intentions. But since it is not the essence of Taekwondo, the Taekwondo-Een transcends it. This means simply that he is not restricted by etiquette, not that he rejects etiquette. Nor does he become rude. Yet it does mean that each action stays in accord with etiquette in spite of forgetting it. This implies that proper etiquette is not fixed but alive. The Do of Nature and the Yae (etiquette) of man are the same despite their different names.
The relation between you and your opponent in Taekwondo is social, however, at the same time they are also natural, and all of these facts are because the foundation of man's life cannot be something out of the order of Nature. Thus the relationship between you and your opponent is always set specifically in the world. You and your opponent share the world and are in turn restricted by it. Within such worldly restrictions the extreme relation settled by TAEKWONDO brings you and your opponent directly to the bare truth despite all illusions, including that distinction between imagination and reality. Thus there can be no falsity in Taekwondo.
You come to know the world in direct contact with Nature as it is and recognize man or woman's life with no error in this manner of Taekwondo. It is non-distinctive. For Nature itself distinguishes nothing but exists as it is. Then you, a Taekwondo-Een, constitute the world that is the object of recognition, and in this way you share Do in you as the laws and the principles that make the world as it is.