The Five Tenets of Tae Kwon Do

If you have read any of our previous blog posts, you will know by now that Tae Kwon Do is much more than just fighting a combat sport. There is an entire culture and history behind the punches and kicks that make up the popular martial art activity, and these are designed to shape each student – mentally, intellectually and physically. This is evidenced by the five tenets of Tae Kwon Do. Found at the core of this martial art sport, these are a set of underlying principles that determine the student’s development in class, and in part, they form the Tae Kwon Do practitioners mentality. Each student uses these tenets to model their behaviors and enhance their progress both in and out of the classroom, or dojang.

COURTESY (Yeh Wee) 예의

The first tenet is centered around conducting yourself politely and professionally in a social setting. Here the student must show a noble character, good understanding of manners and etiquette, and respect of others and their possessions. Tae Kwon Do teaches valuable skills to help students develop a noble character and learn how to tackle adversity with fairness. 

This tenet is especially important for instructors, as new students are heavily influenced by the dynamic and atmosphere in the classroom. The more courteous an instructor is to their students – and vice versa – the more positive the training environment for all involved.  We take this very seriously at World Class Tae Kwon Do, and our empowering instructors act as positive role models for students by showcasing and teaching valuable, positive  character-developing skills.

INTEGRITY (Yom Chi) 염치

Ethics and morals play a huge role in the second tenet of Tae Kwon Do, which is about the student proving their good character. Integrity is defined as having a good conscience, and knowing the difference between right and wrong behaviors and actions. In Tae Kwon Do, this can be tested in a multitude of ways, as students progress through the ranks of each belt. They are taught to earn these belts honestly and fairly, for good reasons. It is thought that those seeking higher belts for feelings of power, lack integrity. And instructors who teach incorrect moves due to a lack of knowledge, or give false feedback to students, lack integrity. Without integrity from both parties, students wouldn’t be able to progress in Tae Kwon Do. It is a vital component of success and development, and is right at the core of its culture and heritage. Not to mention, it is a fantastic virtue for the student to carry with them through life. Once they have honestly mastered the skill of integrity out on the mat, this will inevitably transfer to life outside the classroom. One of the quotes I like to use in our classroom is “it’s never the wrong time to do what’s right”. 


Tae Kwon Do teaches commitment to excellence, determination and persistence, and all of these traits fall under the third tenet of perseverance. In martial arts, techniques are practised and progressed to the student’s personal best before the student progresses to the next belt. They learn how to set goals and achieve them or, put another way, overcome and handle the challenges and successes that happen along the way. This focus and determination – this perseverance – helps them learn how to maintain focus on the end goal and overcome difficulty; a hugely important skill both on and off the mat to have success in life.


Here the student is taught the power of restraint and control when it comes to feelings and behaviors. This tenet is hugely important, because a loss of control can have disastrous effects on both partners in training, sparring or a self-defense situation.. All students are taught that Tae Kwon Do is an art of self-defense and must be used as a last resort, to restrain their opponent. This is why at World Class Tae Kwon Do, we are always teaching our students how to exercise control and keep emotions and impulses in check, both on and off the mat. 

Self control is something we all subconsciously exercise every day, which highlights just how important this tenet is. Self control isn’t just not doing something that you may have an impulse to do but also getting yourself to do things you don’t want to do, like exercising regularly or waking up on time for school.  It easily transfers to situations outside of the classroom – whether it be navigating relationships, or dealing with a bully. Being able to keep your cool and not act on emotion or impulse is critical in situations such as these, and can be achieved with the constant reinforcement and determination taught in Tae Kwon Do.

INDOMITABLE SPIRIT (Baekjul Boolgool)백절불굴

By definition, this is a spirit that cannot be broken, subdued or defeated, especially when a person is put in difficult circumstances. In Tae Kwon Do, the student is taught how to develop a strong spirit to tackle such adversity, along with self-esteem, determination and confidence. This ultimately leads to a positive self-image and a sense of empowerment…all leading to an indomitable spirit.

Strength of character and spirit is something we focus on heavily at World Class Tae Kwon Do, and we strive to consistently empower our students, to help them be the best version of themselves – both outside the classroom, and when facing an opponent out on the mat. We help teach how to filter out society’s superficiality and focus on what really matters, ultimately helping them develop and maintain a positive self-image and constantly be in pursuit of a better version of themselves….an indomitable spirit.

The Five Tenets of Tae Kwon Do

About the Author

If you are motivated by what you have read here and want to try one of our Tae Kwon Do classes, getting started is easy! Master Justin Scarsella has been teaching with his team of talented instructors in Birmingham since 2004, and World Class Tae Kwon Do Schools have been operating across the country since 1983! Their top-rated instruction methods, along with the time and care dedicated to each student’s needs and abilities, have seen him receive glowing reviews throughout his career. He now has two locations in the Hoover and Birmingham areas, and his classes cater to all ages, aged 4 and up – even families can take part together! You can try your first three classes FREE – which includes a FREE uniform!