Basic Principles Underlying Karate Techniques

Tsuki (punching), uchi (striking), keri (kicking), and uke (blocking), are the fundamental karate techniques. They are at once the beginning and the final goal of karate. Students can easily learn to perform these basic movements in little more than two months, but perfection in their performance may be impossible. Therefore, students must practice regularly and employ maximum concentration and effort in the performance of each movement. However, practice will not achieve its object if it is undertaken incorrectly. Unless students learn techniques on a scientific basis, under an instructor employing a systematic and properly scheduled training system, their efforts will be in vain. Karate training can be considered scientific only when it is conducted on the basis of correct physical and physiological principles.

Surprisingly, an examination of the karate techniques which our predecessors created and refined through continuous study and practice reveals that these techniques accord with modern scientific principles. However, further refinement is always possible. We must try to analyze our techniques in an unceasing effort to improve.

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Moral Culture of Taekwon-Do

The broad connotations and various possible interpretations of the moral culture are often very difficult for the western mind to grasp because this is an aspect of Oriental Philosophy which pervades the lives of Oriental people. In a word, it is the endeavour and process of becoming an exemplary person such as Confucius (552-479 BC).

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Tenets of Taekwon-Do

The Taekwon-Do oath

I shall observe the tenets of Taekwon-Do
All students must swear to carefully observe, acknowledge and live by each one of the taekwon-do tenets. Here is a brief and basic explanation of each:

I shall respect the instructor and seniors
A student vows to respect their instructors and those senior to them (both in age and rank). An instructor must also act respectfully to all students and persons in order to be respected and therefore not misusing Taekwon-Do.

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The Ideal Taekwon-Do Instructor

Soldiers are as strong as the general who leads them, and, in a like manner, students can only excel under an excellent instructor. We cannot expect a bamboo to grow in a field of reeds, nor can we expect to find an outstanding pupil under an unqualified teacher.

It is of particular importance that the two aspects of TaeKwon-Do, the spirit and the technique, must be taught together. Therefore, a qualified instructor must combine the qualities of a scholar and a soldier if he is to produce pupils of noble character and outstanding skills.

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The Beauty of the Sword

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The beauty of a katana is  the result of four qualities; its shape, the lie of the grain on the blade, the undulating pattern on the cutting edge and the minute dots which make up the design along the edge.

The oldest swords are also the most in demand. Until the 16th century steel was made from iron melted down with charcoal and worked into cavities made on the side of the blade exposed to the beating. The steel with a low carbon content stayed exceptionally supple. After the 16th century the use of bellows which raised the temperature of the ovens produced an alloy with a higher carbon content.

The metal obtained is then hammered until a thin sheet of steel is obtained. After being hammered and worked day after day, this sheet of steel is used to cover the body of the sword made of a softer metal. The combination of the hard and soft metals gives the blade its flexibility and its strength.

Once the sword has taken on its shape the process of re tempering begins. A clay-based compound is applied thinly to the cutting edge and generously to the rest of the sword. The undulating pattern on the cutting edge depends on the way in which this mixture is applied. For the most part this process is a professional secret and often enables one to recognise the craftsmans skill. The difference in thickness of the clay between the cutting edge and the rib gives a blade with varying grain the more tempered part being called the nie and the rib nioi. Nie suggests spirit, a virile nature, nioi signifies dignity and nobility. The synthesis between the nie and the nioi is an important criterion in evaluating a katana.

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