The Ten Rules that Strengthen Us


Every day of the week, except Sunday, for the last 20 years I have yelled the 10 rules of Taekwondo (out loud…indoors…often in front of total strangers). It’s kind of a silly tradition.

I own and operate a Taekwondo Academy. Every class starts out with an opening ceremony that includes a bow, meditation, and the 10 rules of Taekwondo. Sometimes while reciting the 10 rules, I have questioned whether or not the ritual is still necessary, or even relevant? Well, it is. 

Here are the 10 rules:

1. Strong Spirit – Determination; to never give up on achieving your goals.

2. Effort – Trying hard using physical or mental energy.

3. Patience – The ability to bear pain or difficulty without complaint.

4. Attitude – Maintaining a positive approach to any task.

5. Self-confidence – Believing in yourself and having a good attitude toward yourself.

6. Respect – Treating others the way you wish to be treated.

7. Mind Control – Controlling your thoughts in spite of emotional or physical influences.

8. Honesty – Telling the truth, even if you know you’ll get in trouble.

9. Loyalty – Having trust in someone or something in spite of adverse conditions. 

10. Victory – A positive outcome to a given task or job. 

When I contemplated whether or not we should continue yelling the 10 rules of Taekwondo at the top of our lungs each class, I considered what it would mean for the youth at my academy if we stopped.

The majority of my students are between 8-15 years old. Kids need exercise and discipline. They have natural curiosity, and their growing bodies require movement. Moreover, they need guidance and positive role models.

Students who receive training in Taekwondo memorize the meaning of the rules as they progress through lower belts. So, as the student first memorizes what the ten rules are, they later progress to achieve a depth of understanding for what those rules mean.

Perhaps the most profound idea found in the 10 rules is Respect.

Our society has a warped notion of what respect is, and how it should be practiced. The popular idiom ‘respect is earned’ often comes to mind when one hears the term.

We tend to treat people the way we feel they deserve to be treated. But the rules governing a Taekwondo student dictate that we must treat people how we ourselves wish to be treated. This is a radical perspective, but imagine if everyone behaved in such a way?

Showing respect does not simply mean being nice to people all the time or telling them what they want to hear. While there is never a bad time for good manners, that’s not what we’re talking about. In practice, respect demands that we sincerely honor each other regardless of our feelings. This is a hard thing to do.

The point that I wish to convey is this: Human beings are really quite marvelous – each with inestimable value and potential. Now, more than ever, I think we ought to make every effort to engender the good within the next generation. Thus, the 10 rules will continue to be shouted. 

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Master Kyle Webber began martial arts training under Master Kyu Shim in 1999 after a bullying experience in middle school. He developed an affinity for the Olympic sport of Taekwondo and achieved his first-degree black belt within three years. By 2005, Kyle had progressed to owning Black Belt Academy of Prince Frederick and achieved the rank of Master Instructor (4th degree Black Belt) in 2010. Kyle graduated from Great Mills High School in 2004 and obtained a degree in General Studies from CSM. He now lives happily in Lusby with his wife and 5 children.