Hold the line
The 'line' is present in all aspects of our Soo Bahk Do training. In this essay we will consider the idea of the line in three ways; the way we move (physical), our discipline (philosophical) and our actions (applied).
Hold the line: (idiomatic) to firmly maintain one’s viewpoint, principle or situation.
In our physical training, the line becomes yu sang (visible) through our actions, such as moving in a straight line or delivering a weapon directly to a target. In order to break a board with a punch, the weapon (the hand) must travel in a straight line from the chamber position to the centre of the board. A flick of the elbow or a crooked wrist will result in the weapon following an indirect line of trajectory, and the board is unlikely to break. If the elbow remains close to the body and the wrist is held correctly, maximum power is delivered through the weapon at point of impact, creating a straight line from the source of power to the intended target. If the power is sufficient, the board will break.
The line also influences the directions we move. Imagine watching a hyung being performed from overhead, as if watching from a bird’s eye view. While you will see some of the individual movements, the overall picture you see will be the lines created by the direction of the movements. These movements follow the cardinal directions; north, south, east and west. Advanced hyung introduce the intermediate directions; northeast, southeast, etc. The use of these specific directions is no coincidence; they are directly connected to the Pal Gwe (the eight directions). For more understanding of the importance of the Pal Gwe, read the article on the Wasatch Martial Arts website.
Although philosophy is mu sang (invisible), it can be seen in every aspect of our training. The line can represent many ideas and take on many meanings, however its ability to represent our personal discipline is of great relevance to us as martial artists. Metaphorically, we draw a line in the sand to represent the limit of what we will, or will not do, in a certain situation. We tell ourselves “I will not cross that line”, and regardless of what that line is, we hold ourselves to that standard. The line here is subjective and personal, but through our training and life experiences, we set a standard that is expected of us as both Moo Do practitioners and responsible members of society.
The natural ebb and flow of life means the line is not always clear, and under stress, it easily blurs or bends. When we have confidence in our personal discipline, we are able to maintain a steady course towards making the right decision. To build that confidence, we forge our mental toughness in the dojang under the guidance of our instructors and seniors. Through their embodiment of our Moo Do philosophy, we gain an understanding of what is expected of us. While the comfort of the dojang provides us a training ground, our greatest challenges will be faced in the outside world.
APPLIED: ACTION PHILOSOPHY
All action in Soo Bahk Do must be linked to philosophy, and all philosophy must end with action. From our instructors we learn the physical skills of Soo Bahk Do and the Moo Duk Kwan philosophy. As students, we strive to combine the two in a way that not only makes our time in the dojang fruitful, but also meaningful in our everyday lives. This is our philosophy in action.
Consider the image of a dojang, with all students lined up ready for action. The way we stand relative to our fellow members, in rank order from senior to junior, is a physical manifestation of our Moo Do discipline. With an awareness of our surroundings we create straight lines, understanding that this will help us move harmoniously as a group, and limit the chance of any clashes. While the line could be broken by anyone at any time, with the encouragement of our peers, we hold steady; we hold the line.
The line can also be seen on the Ko Dan Ja belt, in the form of the red line running through the midnight blue. Lower ranked students should look to the red line and ask themselves what it means, and what will it take to obtain it. Similarly, every Ko Dan Ja student should ask themselves what that line represents to them. The answer will always be personal for each student, but that line must mean something, otherwise the journey to achieving it has been without direction or purpose.
All action in Soo Bahk Do must be linked to philosophy, and all philosophy must end with action.
While it is important not to compromise your line, we must also allow it to be flexible when needed. It should not rule your life, but rather give you direction towards your greater goals; goals that sometime seem so far from sight you will never achieve them. Hold the line when you’re tired, feeling lazy or slack. It is easier to maintain the line than to fix it if it breaks, and regardless of how hard it feels, hold the line and rely on the years of training that got you to this point.
For a final thought, there is also a line that runs from our founder, Hwang Kee, Chang Shi Ja, all the way to you, regardless of age, rank or location. This line is your lineage; it connects you directly to Hwang Kee, through your instructor, and their instructor before them. By maintaining your discipline, by holding the line, you keep this line alive. Through you, the line lives on into the next generation as you pass your knowledge to your students, and so on, keeping the Moo Duk Kwan legacy alive.
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Kim Wyles, instructor at Sydney Moo Duk Kwan
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