The Tenets of Tae Kwon Do

I practice Tae Kwon Do, and I’ve noticed that the five tenets of Tae Kwon Do are applicable to just about any goal you might have in life. They are:

Courtesy

Integrity

Perseverence

Self-control

Indomitable Spirit.

If you think about the first four in relation to any worthy goal I’m sure you won’t need me to elaborate on them. Just knowing what they are, keeping them in mind, and remembering that they have helped many people to get through tough challenges is empowering.

The kanji character for the fifth tenet, Indomitable Spirit, roughly translates to “One hundred times broken, still doesn’t succumb.”

I think that’s a pretty good mantra for a writer to take up when approaching the publishing industry. The other four tenets will help you hone your craft and gain allies, but when you’re collecting those rejection slips and trying to break through, it’s Indomitable Spirit you need most.

My teacher also talks about the five D’s: Desire, Drive, Determination, Dedication, and Discipline. And as a writer, musician and martial artist, I also like to recall the five P’s: Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

When I walked onto the mat for the final four hours of my 1st Dan black belt test I was already exhausted. The first session of the test, on Friday night, had caused me to limp up the stairs when I got home, every muscle in my legs screaming to succumb in the aftermath of over 1,200 kicks. Then, after a restless sleep in which I dreamed of doing countless dizzying tornado kicks, I had to get up on Saturday morning to run 3 miles, do 500 sit-ups and push-ups, and take a written philosophy test. So by Saturday night when it was time for that final four hours of forms, focus pad kicks, self-defense combinations, sparring, and finally board breaking, I was running on reserves. It took me two attempts to break most of those boards, but I did break them.

A year later I took my 2nd Dan black belt test, and I noticed a funny thing. Having practiced at the black belt level for a year, and having the experience of the first test behind me to take the nervous edge off, I did better with less effort than the first time around. I even broke a brick. I did it all while suffering from a cold, but it was still easier than the first time.

Writing my first novel was also an exhausting process. And now I’m hoping that writing the second one will be a little bit like taking that second black belt test.

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