Our modern life is stressful, complicated and competitive. We recognize these elements and we often complain, yet many of us contribute to the hectic pace by juggling too many activities, by holding on to tension, and by resisting the urge to step back and gain a fresh perspective.
Meditation or Mook Nyum (pronounced moon yom) offers a way to reduce the disorder in our lives and replenish our spirit. It can be a simple activity; there is no need to be intimidated or to try to change your life in one day. Meditation becomes easier when it is practiced at whatever level you feel comfortable—a normal daily thing like eating or playing. It is not necessary to have a teacher or a partner. You can practice alone to set your mind in good order and become more tranquil.
Meditation seems difficult at first because it is not action, but rather the absence of action. The process is similar to what occurs in a fish pond after someone has walked through it. Meditation is like watching the pond as the mud settles and the water clears again. There is nothing you can do to hurry that process. Rather, the idea is to try to not stir up the mud again in the meantime.
One way to translate Mook Nyum is “silent thought.” Meditation is silent, like soundless music. It is peaceful and deep, like flowing water. As you allow yourself to relax, to quiet your breathing and make it more regular, it becomes possible to engage in the internal and external observation of your self. Rather than thinking, you watch your thoughts. You watch your feelings in an unrestricted flow without trying to hang on to one or another. You try to avoid judging your thoughts or reconstructing them.
For both Mook Nyum and its linguistic relative Myoung Sang there are internal and external forms. Internal Mook Nyum, or Nae Sang, is when you allow the “screen” of your mind to clear and surrender its control. You observe the entire sequence of whatever appears on the “screen” rather than trying to concentrate on just one segment. With external Mook Nyum, or Wei Sang, you direct the image on the “screen” to a greater degree. For example, in Soo Bahk Do practice when we meditate at the beginning of class, we allow our minds to clear with the goal of preparing to train.
Either kind of meditation is always fresh. You are always ready to begin wherever you are. Mook Nyum is not like a soap opera; you do not have to start where you stopped the last time or remember to pick up where you left off. It is something like lighting a candle; every time you light it there is a new flame, not the same as the previous light.
Meditation slows the whirling of the anxious thoughts that complicate our feelings and stress our spirits. It is almost like a spiritual filter. Not only do we relax as we watch the mud settle back to the bottom of the fishpond, but once the water is clear we can see deeper into the pond—or deeper into ourselves. Through meditation we become more aware of our strength. Through contemplation we cultivate our spirit and become more self-reliant.
To Westerners, it may seem like a paradox that you would seek to master your mind by freeing your thoughts. Yet tranquillity comes through the combination of self-examination and being open to what you observe. It is a process that is pure and simple, but there are no shortcuts. Meditation is the only way to take you to meditation.
O-Heang is a philosophy stating that all matters are composed by the movements of the Five Elements . Theses are Mok-Ki (wood), Hwa-Ki (fire), Toe-Ki (soil), Kuem-Ki (metal) and Soo-Ki (water). The five major organs, O-Jang, also have the same properties and attributes. Wood (Mok-Ki) relates with liver, Fire (Hwa-Ki) is the heart, Soil (Toe-Ki relates with spleen, metal (Kuem-Ki) is the lung and water (Soo-Ki) is related with the kidneys. The attached charts show the O Heang properties in nature and the human body.
|O-Ki||O-Heang (Color)||O-Jang (Nae-Kong)||Shim-Kong||Ho-Heup (YJK)||O-Mi (Flavor)||Season||O-Kam (Feelings)||Tae-Guk|
|Soo-Ki (Water)||Dark (Black)||the Kidney||Respect/Love||Chui/Wooo||Salty||Winter||Fear||Um-Ki|
|Mock-Ki (Wood)||Green||the Liver||Kyum-Son||She/SH||Sour||Spring||Anger||Um-Ki|
|Hwa-Ki (Fire)||Red||the Heart||Trust/Loyalty||Haw/Kuu||Bitter||Summer||Joy||Yang-Ki|
|Kum-Ki (Metal)||White||the Lung||Jung-Jik||SSSS/Sec||Spicy||Fall||Worry||Yang-Ki|
|Toh-Ki (Earth)||Gold/Yellow||the Spleen||the Golden Mean||Hu/Huwooo||Sweet||All||Thought||Um-Ki|
Soo Bahk Do is our moo do, or martial art. The “art”, or “Do”, is a language of the spirit and body, therefore, “moo do” is our language of spirit and body through martial training. It’s not what moo do is that’s important, but how we express it that matters.
Many practitioners believe Soo Bahk Do translates to “hand strike way”. This is an inaccurate translation and does little to describe our art by labeling it as merely a form of attack. Soo Bahk Do is not defined as a method to strike with the hands, rather Soo Bahk Do is a tool to strengthen our spiritual and physical language and improve overall personal well-being.
The term “Soo” does mean “hand” but the hand is a representation of the human body. Look at Figure 1 to see the seal script for the term “Soo” (Seal script is an older style of Chinese writing and the first writing style that used the term Soo Bahk). It is a representation of the human body with a head, spinal cord, and tail (tailbone). The two horizontal lines symbolize the arms and legs. Placing a real hand upside down, each finger represents one of the 5 main branches of the nervous system:
|Seal Script for Soo Bahk Do|
- The middle finger represents the spine.
- The index and ring fingers represent the legs.
- The thumb and little finger represents the arms.
The term “Bahk” has many meanings including to tangle, twist, turn over, pound, or change. An example would be a farmer turning over the soil which is a form of cultivating the earth. Another example would be a smith who works with metal by pounding and folding it to produce something of value. Every translation has one thing in common: Bahk is a term to improve or cultivate. The symbol on the left is the same symbol for “Soo” showing a human change. Just as a farmer and smith put forth tremendous effort and hard work to achieve the desired result, we as Moo Do In (Martial Art Practitioners) must give sincere effort as well. Physical cultivation will only come after intense physical conditioning as you pound, twist, and change your body. The same process is required for a spiritual change. Only after you are exposed to life’s challenges and successfully overcome them by choosing the path of virtue can you achieve spiritual refinement.
“Do” is an abstract term that is roughly translated as a spiritual way or path. The left side of the character signifies a road or path and the right side stands for head. Do can be expressed and observed through our actions.
Therefore, Soo Bahk Do really means the way of the art of human well-being. Our destination is to improve every aspect of the self. We need to keep every part of our self healthy. There are three distinct areas that we should concentrate to improve:
- Our skin, muscles, and bones relate to our external, physical health. In order to strengthen our body, we need to apply a scientific method. This is accomplished in the do-jang as we improve our strength, endurance, flexibility, and technique. We strengthen and improve our physical body through Weh-Kong.
- Our internal health relates to how we eat, sleep, and breathe. Training in both Moo Pahl Dan Kuhm and Moon Pahl Dan Kuhm (Standing and Sitting 8 Pieces Brocade) will improve the health of the internal organs through Ki-Kong breathing and an understanding of O-Haeng. Our internal health is closely coupled with O-Haeng, O-Ki, and the related 5 internal organs: Kidney, Liver, Heart, Lung, and Spleen. Regretably, few Moo Do In understand the relationships of O-Haeng, but is a vital component to the training of Nae-Kong 內功 (sincere internal effort).
- Our spirit, or ma’ulm, relates to our heart or soul. It is not intellectual, but spiritual. Enhanced intellect is only beneficial as long as it is applied to cultivate one of these three distinct areas: Weh-Kong, Neh-Kong, or Shim-Kong. The value of the 8 Key Concepts, for example, is much more than a standard for improved martial technique. Courage, concentration, endurance, honesty, humility, and others are principles that need to be engraven in your ma’ulm, and revealed in your every action—both in and out of the do-jang. This is Shim-Kong training 心 功 (sincere spiritual effort) training.
All three work together to find well-being. The composite gives us good health and longevity. Soo Bahk Do is the vehicle to improve each of these three aspects of our selves and that is the purpose of Soo Bahk Do.
Kohn Kyung means sincere effort. In order to improve yourself in these three areas, it’s important that you have sincere effort. Kong 功 is another term that translates to effort and is the basis for the terms Shim-Kong, Nae-Kong, and Weh-Kong. Only by exercising sincere effort in cultivating the soul, breath and internal organs, and the physical body, will a Soo Bahk Do practitioner succeed in the purpose of Soo Bahk Do.
Soo Bahk Do gives us various tools to accomplish its purpose of “rejuvenation and prolonging of life beyond the normal span”:
- Um Yang is balance, which stands for harmony.
- Ship Sam Seh which comprises Pal Gwe and Oh Haeng (not to be confused with the Song of Ship Sam Seh).
- Chil Sung
- Yuk Ro (pronounced Yoong-no)
Each of these is an important tool, or asset needed to be connected to the history, culture, and philosophy of Soo Bahk Do. They are much more than mere lists or terms to memorize, but have great significance and application in your moo do training in and out of the dojang. If you cannot apply these principles in both your training and personal life, you cannot connect to the art. As the Song of Ship Sam Seh states: “Failing to follow [these principles] attentively, you will sigh away your time.”
Do-Jang & Do-Bok
|Calligraph for Do Jang||Calligraph for Do Bok|
The Do-jang is the place where we train Soo Bahk Do. Not so long ago, nature was the dojang since there were no formal dojangs with beautiful, painted walls; soft mats or polished wood floors; modern kicking bags and plush targets; or air conditioning and heating. The dojang was outside with whatever conditions Nature was willing to give you.
Even then, there was still a sense of do-jang, called do ryang, which is a Buddhist term. In Buddhism, outside of the main temple structure, there was a do ryang, or place of awakening. Traditionally, the monks would clean the dirt around the do ryang before they became monks. This was a way for them to clean their ma’ulm and connect with the Buddha.
The term do-jang comes after World War II where formal structures were erected called do-jang. “Jang” has two parts. The first is “place” and the second is “change” . Do-jang is the place to change your “do” or your “ma’ulm”. See figure 2 for the calligraphy. It is the place to cultivate your soul and improve self well-being through sincere effort in Weh-Kong, Nae-Kong, and Shim-Kong training. It is not just a place to memorize your forms or learn new martial techniques. Both of these are additional tools used to improve the self.
In the do-jang, we need to wear do-bok. Do-bok means wearing your soul (ma’ulm). When we wear our do-bok in the do-jang, we are reminded that we are here to try and change and improve our ma’ulm and that my ma’ulm is visible to others through my actions. The way you put on your do-bok or the way you care for your do-bok will say much about your ma’ulm.
Moo Do Jaseh
The physical expression of Soo Bahk Do is moo do jaseh. We know that moo do is a language (spiritual or physical language). Jaseh is a posture. We need a good posture of both physical and spiritual. Ja means manner and beauty. Seh means aspect or strength.
Manner (Ja) means:
Aspect (Seh) means:
|Calligraphy for Moo Do Jaseh|
Moo Do Jaseh is a physical manifestation of your ma’ulm. Therefore, the way you perform the moo do jaseh will determine how close you are to the art of Soo Bahk Do. The way you present a Chun Gul Jaseh, for example, is a manifestation of your ma’ulm. Likewise, the way you wear your do bok will say a lot about who you are as a person. A dirty, wrinkled do bok will tell a different story than a clean, crisp one. Moo Do Jaseh is everything in our training including the way you tie your belt and the way you communicate with your juniors, seniors, and the general public. Moo Do Jaseh is manifested through your walk, your tone of voice, your words, and your actions.
From a spiritual perspective, all ethical behavior is proper moo do jaseh and can be summarized by the term Duk Haeng—Virtuous Action. Moo Do Jaseh should be made manifest in our every action. If this is the case, then every action will reflect our philosophy. As we practice and become accustomed to acting with proper Moo Do Jaseh, everything we do becomes ceremonious, not as a result of vain repetition, but as a result of sincere, consistent, and natural effort. Actions become ceremony as we tie our belt, ironing our do bok, clean the dojang, and help each other. When all of these things become ceremonial, you become more than a martial artist. You become an artisan of Soo Bahk Do. The art defines you and you contribute to the definition of the art. When you become an artisan, everything you do becomes a serenading stage, full of beauty. This is true mastery.
Soo Bahk Do and Moo Duk Kwan
Soo Bahk Do is more than just an activity to learn to get in shape and practice self defense techniques. It is a set of Korean principles that are available to help better ourselves and those around us. True moo do comes from seeking to learn and to apply these principles and then sharing these ideologies amongst each other as those before us have done in order to preserve this legacy of learning. The Moo Duk Kwan is an organization founded by the late founder, Grandmaster Hwang Kee to do just that. It facilitates the movement of ideas and principles and allows us to connect with people of similar passion. Our Moo Duk Kwan pride should come from our proper application of Moo Do Jaseh in our members, which will make a positive change in the societies in which they live.
The Pyung Ahn Hyungs originated in China and exemplify the southern regional style (Nam-Pa). They were created by a Chinese military leader named Jeh Nam (Ztu – Nan) and were once known as the Jeh Nam Hyungs till late 1800.
At some point, these Hyungs were brought to Okinawa from the mainland, and about 1887, master Edos of Okinaa rearranged them into five sets of Hyungs. Shortly thereafter, they became known as the Pyung Ahn Hyungs (He`An in the Okinawan dialet), or Forms of Peaceful Confidence.
The late Kwan Jang Nim, Hwang Kee, made the turtle the symbol of the Pyung-Ahn Hyungs. He also presented the Hyungs to reflect Moo Duk Kwan style in 1945. The turtle bears a special significance in Korea culture comparable to that of the dragon in China. Throughout Korea, in gardens and temples especially, one sees turtle sculptures dating from historical times to the present. Its head represents the earth, its claw, the heavens, and its body, the water. As the intermediary between heaven and earth, water also represents humanity. These elements are also the three powers of the universe:Chun,Ji and Inn. Uniting these powers into the living whole, the turtle embodies longevity.
Wholeness is essential to the Pyung Ahn Hyungs, as it is the peaceful confidence for which they are named. In Soo Bahk Do, we find this wholeness in the interaction between Um and Yang, an essential feature of Ki, or vital life. In Korean, the name for this interaction is O-Heang. The relation between Um and Yang is dynamic:O-Heang flows from the union of Um and Yang. Since Um and Yang also represent the earthy and heavenly aspects of Ki (life), we can summarize the relationships between the turtle symbol, the elements, and three aspects of Ki in the chart in Table 1.
|Body||Soo (Water, humanity)||O-Haeng|
Our Moo-Do culture, like Pyung Ahn Hyungs embrace the absolute integrity of nature in all its aspects as the basis for human morality. The late Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee always reminded us to connect with the great nature. We can see how he valued the Shim-Kong aspects (Duk) on our art of Soo Bak Do.
The Pyung Ahn Hyungs have as their purpose the cultivation of harmony between Um and Yang, earth and heaven, in those who perform them. This entails more than knowledge of the physical movements involved. Physical techniques must be complemented by spiritual wisdom (Duk or Ma-Um), just as Um is balanced with Yang and earth with heaven, if we are to find peaceful confidence in practicing the forms. The goal of the Pyung Ahn Hyungs is precisely this integration of contrasting force-um and yang, earth and heaven, body and spirit-into a harmonious whole.
Tae-Kuk Ki is the national flag of the Republic of Korea. The circle in the center of the flag represents Um (blue color) and Yang (red color). The background color white represents brightness and purity. This is the symbol of. Korean national traits, the love of peace and harmony. Tae-Kuk (the Great Absolute) is the expression of the universe (Heaven and Earth) that promotes creation and growth by complying with mutual interaction. It symbolizes the natural balance of opposition in the world.
The four corners represent the Four Trigrams (that have been used for divination) with 3, 4, 5, and 6 dark stripes. These Sa-Kweh represent the interaction and growth of Um and Yang. Each trigram has 3 lines, either solid or broken. A solid line represents Yang and a broken line represents Um. The top line represents Heaven (Chun), the middle line represents Humanity (In), and the bottom line represents Earth (Ji). The combination of Um and Yang with Chun-In-Ji constitute an elemen with unique characteristics:
|Geon (건 / 乾)||Heaven (천 / 天)||Humanity (인 / 仁)||Justice (정의 / 正義)||Father (부 / 父)|
|Ri (리 / 離)||Sun (일 / 日) or Fire (화 / 火)||Courtesy (예 / 禮)||Wisdom (지혜 / 智慧)||Son (중남 / 子)|
|Gam (감 / 坎)||Moon (월 / 月) or water (수 / 水)||Intelligence (지 / 智)||Vitality (생명력 / 生命力)||Daughter (중녀 / 女)|
|Gon (곤 / 坤)||Earth (지 / 地)||Righteousness (의 / 義)||Fertility (풍요 / 豊饒)||Mother (모 / 母)|
The Sa-Kweh shows the achievement of peace and harmony centered on Um and Yang. By applying the principles of Sa Kweh and Um/Yang, one can also achieve peace and harmony in life.
From ancient times, our ancestors delightedly valued and utilized these Tae Kuk principles. They also illustrate the Korean ideology of desirable prosperity and creation of well-being. Therefore, we must succeed in the spirit of the Tae-Kuk Ki (Um and Yang principles) and provide unity and harmony to world peace and happiness by applying its principles. Memorization alone will not bring the desired result. Until we, as Moo Do In (Pr actitioners of the Martial Way), understand the philosophy of Tae Kuk and act in accordance with these principles, we will fail to reach our full potential and become a mature, masterful Moo Do In. Without righteous actions founded upon Tae Kuk Ki, there is no value obtained.