Preface to the English ver.
Myself before My Opponent
"I cannot understand why my
opponent defeats me so easily."
"Because you do not see the moon but only the finger that points
When you practice Taekwondo correctly your opponent cannot succeed in
attacking you, even when your guard is down. This is because each part
of you maintains its own position, and always in its proper place. In
other words, you follow the right principle, i.e. the way of Haneul (Heaven).
Likewise, your opponent cannot trouble your mind, even though you may
be making no effort to concentrate. This is because you have attached
yourself to nothing, and thus your mind is empty and unrestricted. Since
your mind is empty there is no thought to trouble you. Nor can your opponent
confuse your life, though you may neither try to keep your life in order
nor take special care against danger. This is because your life is in
firm harmony with everything around you. All types of danger that threaten
your safety, mind, and life from outside of this harmony will be demolished
by themselves. The right principles of Taekwondo are the same as those
Then, how is it possible to put everything of you in its own proper place
according to the way of Haneul (Heaven)? Have oneness of your emptiness
and fullness and both erase and picture yourself at the same time. In
this way you can keep everything of yours in its proper position. Then
how is it possible to have oneness of emptiness and fullness? Fundamentally
emptiness means the capacity to accept some external other, while fullness
is something produced from within. If something is full it is full only
of what fills it and of what can be produced but not of the other, i.e.
though it is full it is also empty of the other. On the contrary, if something
is empty it is empty only of the other that it does not contain, so it
is possible that it is full of something else. When a bowl, for example,
is full of water it is full only of water, because it can accept no more
water, while at the same time it is empty, for instance, of gems or salt.
For a bowl filled with water can produce no gem while it can accept some
salt. Thus, emptiness or fullness is always relative to the object.
So, possessing oneness of emptiness and fullness refers in the former
case to putting yourself in the very place that makes your opponent unable
to do what he wants against you, while the latter case refers to putting
yourself in the very place that makes you able to do what you want. If
you can keep the emptiness of TAEKWONDO 'there would be no will of yours'
to go against some motion of your opponent, which makes him feel in vain,
thus it is termed "emptiness". If you can attain the fullness
of TAEKWONDO 'there would be your will', full of the spirit of subduing
your opponent, which produces your motions of beating down the opponent's
will and of subduing his activities. So this is called "fullness".
In this unity of emptiness and fullness you think with all of yourself
and your consciousness is awakened but not operated to think, i.e. Mu-Nyom-Mu-Sang
("freedom from all ideas and thoughts") . This leads to the
way of Haneul that everything of yours moves in its proper position. When
you, a Taekwondo-Een, think with all of yourself then you will 'have just
yourself' as a mere harmonized whole beyond yourself. Everything is both
empty on one hand and full on the other hand, so full and empty ones fill
and empty one another repeatedly into endless changes of the world and
of themselves. It is you who put them in order and it is Mu-a ("Non-self")
who completes the harmonious order. Since already erased, you are to be
Then, what is it to erase yourself? It is to delete every distinction
between you and others. And it is also to liberate yourself to everything
open beyond the horizon of your subjectivity and dogmatism. What is it
to picture yourself? It is to realize your own wishes firmly in the open
beings. Also, is it to determine the world with freedom at will. Everything
closed belongs to everything open, so it is to erase yourself that you
maintain yourself in an empty mind with no desire unrestrictedly free
from your subjective. And then, you can set yourself free from everything,
such as formal restrictions, morals, passions, humanities and the like.
When you erase yourself you become the all and your opponent is within
it, so his motion is within your motion. Then does your motion determine
his and the world. Therefore, when you erase yourself perfectly you also
picture yourself perfectly.
Erasing yourself includes not only forgetting everything of yourself
but also obtaining a non-existence of self. When you simply forget everything
of yourself you may be able to focus complete attention on something,
achieving unity of your entirety. However, you may still not overcome
your opposition to the world. It may be possible that you are still opposed
to the world despite your self-absorption in the unity of yourself. This
opposition can be deleted only when you, forgetting yourself, go even
further to erase your existence. Only then will the distinction between
you and what is not you finally be overcome. You establish yourself as
a part of the world over the opposition to the world, and further, you
include the whole of the world within you, and thus you expand upward
to become the world itself. I ask you, where then will your opponent be
able find you? Your body cannot simply be yourself, and neither your physical
presence nor your motion is your true figure. Each of them has illusions
and faults mixed within them. Therefore, when you as a Taekwondo-Een erase
yourself the opponent cannot find you, and yet you still remain opposed
to the whole world. In this way, you can still spar with your opponent,
accomplishing the perfection constituted of all necessary elements with
even your faults and blind points, and then you can achieve your desires.
As stated above, having oneness of fullness and emptiness while both
picturing and erasing yourself at once, leads you to the way of Haneul.
So even though you, in your Taekwondo, move at a slower tempo relative
to your opponent's haste he cannot follow your change of motions because
you always follow the true way making only the necessary motions.