Founder’s Philosophy

Hwa Rang Do ® Philosophy
The current state of affairs within the martial art community, is one in which the actions, circumstances, and situations that define our reputations are creating a negative perspective in how our community is viewed, and more importantly how it will survive. This perspective is not an obvious one for most people, however, its impact is deeply felt within the hearts of those individuals that are connected to the traditional way of the martial arts. The reasons and goals of the majority of martial art practitioners are focused on mainly two ideologies. One, the quest for learning multitudes of techniques, and two, the desire for personal wealth.

From within either one (or both) of these frameworks, there is not an obvious reason or motivation that creates a sense of anything wrong. In fact, for all apparent purposes, these perspectives, and the results that they create, are simply the natural progression of the evolution of martial arts and we will be better off than we are today. What is wrong with learning as many techniques as possible from multiple martial arts, when they will benefit your personal skill level? What is wrong with following popular trends in order create more stability for your school, and gain more financial success?

In the here and now, the popular trends and actions that are occurring do not seem to have an immediate negative impact to the individual that commits them. On the local level, trends such as studying multiple martial arts, claims about being master/instructor of multiple arts, teaching under multiple martial art names, the creation of new organizations that simply sell degrees, and the creation of a “new and improved art,” all have the pretense of being bigger and better than what the previous and past circumstances or arts could offer. However, with this assumption that true growth is occurring, the old traditional martial arts and their Way are left by the wayside.

As the original and traditional arts are left behind, the quality of there name has also vanished. Now, martial art names such as Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Kung Fu, etc. are generic terms that no longer refer to a specific martial art identity. These arts cannot control the quality of their practitioners, instructors, and schools, and now these art names are used at whim and often change as much as the wind by the people who use them. The martial art name (for most arts) no longer has any meaning for itself, or to its practitioners. There are exceptions to this current state of affairs, for those instructors and schools that have followed the traditional way of martial arts even though their fellow art brothers and sisters have departed. Yet, the majority has taken a different step, and the obviousness of this fact can be seen on the internet.

Everywhere you look, you will find the seemingly endless amount of “new arts,” “new organizations,” “new histories,” and of course the countless who have completely mixed everything they can find in a blender. If these trends continue, then the entire martial art community will will totally lose its integrity, and there will be nothing left for the future generations of practitioners except to become gangsters of fighting techniques.

Each and every specific martial art is a unique phenomena. They all contain specific techniques, specific concepts, specific philosophies, specific histories, specific uniforms, specific symbols, and specific rules, hence they all have the suffix of “Do” or the Way. There are so many different aspects that are combined to define a martial art it is hard to list all of them. Even so, the spirit of each martial art has a Way that is definable, just as different sports are distinguishable from one another. Can soccer, basketball, football, baseball, volleyball, etc. be mixed, yet their true spirit is still maintained? Each involves a ball. . . Or can a coach of football truly teach and direct a volleyball team?

Maybe for a new “eclectic” sport this is possible, however, the absurdity of this is simply obvious. If an individual wishes to actually participate in one of these sports, he/she must follow those specific guidelines that define that one sport’s identity. You cannot play baseball with the rules and field of golf.

A martial art is in some respects similar to sports, however, each art is unique from the others within the martial art community. A martial art is not only a conglomeration of fighting skills, it is an art that has a specific Way that is different from all other arts. If you are only concerned with fighting skills you are no different than a street fighter. There is nothing inherently wrong with being concerned with fighting techniques only, however, the important factor is whether this is done under the pretense of a “Martial Art.” A martial art has a Way, and this Way involves many more aspects than the just the vocabulary of its martial skills. If you are a martial artist, then you must have concern for the other aspects that define your one true art such as the history, philosophy, concepts, theory, rules and regulations. The martial skills are just one of the many aspects that define the true spirit of each unique martial art.

With this in mind, the following philosophies are presented to show the public Hwa Rang Do’s ® spirit. The development of one’s character is the most important goal of a Hwa Rang Do ® practitioner. Therefore, within this art there are rules and principles that we follow to develop stronger character. These are found within the Hwa Rang Do ® Meng Sae, which is composed of five rules that were the ancient Hwarang’s code of ethics and our founder, Dr. Joo Bang Lee’s philosophy that contains nine principles of human morality. The following philosophy is given from the teaching ways of our Hwa Rang Do ® founder, and it is our hope that these moral principles will once again return to the rest of the martial art community.

Humanity Justice Courtesy
Wisdom Trust Goodness
Virtue Loyalty Courage
Respect Honor Obedience
Duty Patience Service
Self-confidence Responsibility Cooperation
Filial Piety Honesty Righteousness
Spirit Selflessness Study


PHILOS-InHumans must understand the way of humanity in order to maximize our human potentials. We must understand the qualities, which distinguishes us from other living creatures – the essence of our being and our connection to the natural order of the universe. Most all religions and moral philosophies have professed the following tenants concerning the “Way” humans should live: Be good, be selfless, be courteous, be just, be obedient, be respectful, be loving, be trusting, be virtuous, be wise, be responsible, show filial piety, cooperate, and be compassionate. An understanding of these moral traits is necessary for human society to be harmonious.

The martial artist must deeply understand these principles because as well as being a part of human society, he or she is also a part of the identity of their particular martial art. True courage and strength is necessary for the practitioner to dedicate themselves to the welfare of their martial art. Humans are not isolated. We need each other, and in return, we must give service to our community, our art, and ultimately our humanity. We need to give our services and cooperate in a respectable manner for the benefit of our art, and for the benefit of the future generations.

All things are governed by rules and procedures. In order to create harmony and order, we must give attention to the rank and title of the members in the art. There are many principles one must understand in order to achieve true harmony, which we hope will be revealed after this discourse. Harmony is achieved through understanding the weaknesses and strengths, the likes and dislikes, and the understanding of how the “self” can better the “whole.” Then, one must create structure and order in one’s life to fulfill their goals with unswerving moral rectitude. First, the individual must seek harmony within the “self.” Then, the individual must apply the same methods of self-discovery into the community and then realize the individual’s connection to the natural order of life. However, this does not take place in such order. This is the dilemma.

Wisdom is gained much later in our lives, after much experience, hardships, and heartbreaks. This is why it is so important to have good teachers in our lives. Those who understand the ancient wisdom, value of tradition, the need for change for growth, and most importantly, posses the vision of the future. They are the ones who will guide us in the proper path and either expedite our growth to reach our full potentials or forever trap us in a futile existence. In a true martial art, this growth is accomplished through rank and title, as does any civilization. Rank and title should not be used as a means to suppress growth, but it is a means of fulfillment. By fulfilling the tasks, requirements, and challenges of each rank, one comes to understand and value their position as well as the position of others. Without challenges, trials, and hardships, one cannot grow. Moreover, it is through this maturity that a person can come to appreciate his/her responsibilities and thus gain a greater sense of humanity. Our ranks and titles reflect the position we have among our art’s community as well as our society. The more position we have, the greater our reasonability to others and humanity.

Of course, one can be a self-proclaimed teacher, champion, or even a prophet. No true title can be self-proclaimed. Even though, a person starts a company and makes him/herself president, such title will only gain value by the work he/she accomplishes. True titles are gained, earned, and/or presented. Some modern systems of martial arts have disbanded the ranking system entirely. This cannot be seen as a martial art and should be given a new name, such as martial sports. However, even in sports you have different levels, depending on skill and performance. Hence, it is hard to escape ranking because it is the way to keep order and without order, there can only be chaos. Respect and be proud of your ranks and titles, if you have sacrificed to earn it. The value of each rank or title is determined by your own actions. Just having rank means nothing, if you do not act accordingly. Stay true to the rank you earned and what was given to you by your founder or master. Do not deny true ranks and titles. False ranks and titles are a dishonor to us all, to the memory of what was, and brings shame to the way of the martial arts and its community.


PHILOS-UeiRules exist within the natural universe that governs the way the universe unfolds. For every positive, there is a negative. Positive is often associated with goodness and negative as evil. However, positive and negative refers to energy or natural forces, which must both co-exist in order to create balance. The control of the responses to these natural forces determines the achievement of harmony and whether there is good or evil. Religion, society, governments, and families are all governed by their own set of rules. It is these rules that provide the framework for life to be harmonious within these specific communities. Then and only then, can one start to discover the “True Law.”

If these rules are broken, the balance of life is damaged and harmony is destroyed. As an individual member among your particular society, it is necessary to follow human morality to live an honorable life, and to further benefit the next generation. However, these moral laws are different from the laws of the land. When you break the laws of the land, one can be imprisoned and punished, but moral law is governed by honor. If one commits an act, which is morally unjust, there may be no formal punishment, but the consequences can potentially be greater. As a martial artist (a warrior), one has to be motivated by honor itself – not because of fear of punishment. “Doing right for right sake,” is what is most noble. No one, no police, no government need to discipline our action, but our own conscience. You might ask, then why should we do what is right, when there is no one to force the consequences of our actions? For honor itself.

Furthermore, there exists a greater law than the laws created by humans. For each of us, depending on our faith, it varies. However, the underlying principles of conduct are the same. It is this truth, which every individual must seek. The martial artist must constantly strive to understand these truths by continued study and self-reflection, incorporate them into their lives and uphold its value by sharing with others. The martial art is one of the last disciplines in which honor is held at such high regard and it is our duty to ensure its longevity.

One must respectfully follow the natural laws of human morality. As a member of a particular martial art society, you must also follow the laws set forth for your particular martial art. Training in a martial art is not only about the study of fighting techniques. Every martial art has specific guidelines that reflect basic principles of human morality. By following these guidelines, an individual will live harmoniously and honorably within this world. Be brave, modest, loyal, obedient, respectful, honest, and stay true to the principles of human morality. That is living justly.


PHILOS-YaeCourtesy is the way in which one human treats another. It is hard to understand courtesy without knowing respect, confidence, and kindness. Being courteous requires one to be modest and modesty cannot be attained without selflessness. In order to be selfless, one must know “the self,” with all of its strengths and weaknesses. Then, learn to become at peace with who and what we are. In so doing, one should gain a greater appreciation for being human and how we interrelate with others. Being courteous is the best way to create harmony within human society.

Martial art practitioners must strive even that much more to be courteous. By the nature of martial arts, it easily instills false sense of pride, which often times leads to enormous egos. Unless these egos are contained through understanding humility, the martial artist who constantly trains their body to be a weapon becomes a detriment to society, injuring and hurting innocent people. For this reason, martial artist must learn to abide by certain rules of conduct and etiquette, which is inherent in most traditional arts. The exercise of these etiquettes is a constant reminder of humility for everyone who practices it. That is why the traditional systems of martial art are deeply rooted to strict rules of etiquette, which mainly emphasizes courtesy and respect.


PHILOS-JiSocial harmony is also dependent upon wisdom. Wisdom is not only knowledge, but more importantly, it is life experience. Knowing and understanding are two different things. It is taking knowledge and applying it into life applications and discovering its true meaning and value. It is the ability to make decisions with the understanding of the past, the condition of the present, and the consequences in the future. It is making choices with the understanding that one’s actions effect humanity and the state of harmony within the universe. It is through wisdom that you will achieve a successful life. Too many people assume that they know and are too impatient to discover the truth. The search for understanding is the means of obtaining wisdom.

Of course, people who have lived longer should be wiser, but this is not always the case. A person could have lived a long time, but never really took the time to reflect on their actions or strive for understanding. A younger person who has the proper frame of mind and the patience to gain understanding could be wiser. Those who are wise do not proclaim to be so. Those who lack this wisdom speak up and make louder noise in order to cover their ignorance. All the wealth in the in the world cannot buy wisdom. It is a gift of living to those who seek it.

The martial artist is not just a fighter, but should be a student of life, striving always to better oneself in every aspect. Within this world, there is much to learn, but often humans are like a fish in a small pond. To that fish, the pond is the entire universe. However, there is much more to life outside the boarders of the pond. So if you are training in a martial art make sure it values the search for wisdom. Once you have carefully chosen the art for you, you should never give up and quit. The proper martial art contains more than just physical techniques; but tenets to live one’s life, hence, becoming a way of life. The attempt to study multiple arts is like searching for a well and digging ten one foot holes, when it would be better to find one good spot and dig one ten foot hole. Carefully search for the art you will spend your lifetime practicing, and follow that art to the highest honorable degree. That is the way of wisdom.


PHILOS-ShinSocial progress and social harmony is created through trust. Trust must exist between a wife and husband, a parent and child, a teacher and student, an elder and youth, a friend and friend, multiple societies, a government and its people, and also between countries. Trust is needed to create a positive setting between these social relationships. Social success requires adherence to commitments and agreements between two parties. If these commitments and agreements are broken by either party, trust will be lost. Once these promises are broken and trust is lost, these parties will no longer be able to create further positive progress towards success. So if someone gives you this trust, you must be responsible and follow through to maintain the way of trust.

By one’s actions, he/she earns the trust of others. However, trust must also be given and only the strong are able to that. Trust cannot exist without a deep understanding of honor. Hence, it is essential that as martial artists we live by honor and build a strong character so that we can offer our trust to others without the fear of getting hurt. In the modern world, “trust no one” is the motto we follow. This is a sad state of affairs in which each individual is afraid to trust anyone, because the norm is the breaking of promises and taking advantage of others. This is precisely the reason why the martial artists of today must be the role models for such values and learn to protect the weak. This strong moral character is developed through discipline. It is most important that a student learns that there are immediate negative consequences associated with negative actions. Many times, the breaking of promises can be resolved by confronting the person one-to-one with mutual intention for understanding and resolution. However, many people try to blame fault rather then trying come up with a solution.

Trust is essential within the martial art society. If trust does not exist between a teacher and student, how can they build a strong sense of family? Also, how can an individual teach these dangerous skills to someone they do not trust? Furthermore, how can a student attend a school if they do not trust the teacher? Students must trust their teachers, and teachers must trust their students. Only then can they work together to develop the honor of their names and the name of their martial art identity as well. That is the main concern of the traditional martial art founders. They brought their technical skills to the public under a specific name and identity. They trusted their students to further develop the reputation and integrity of their art’s identity in order to continue to pass the art generation to generation. One must have loyalty to their one true martial art, and then the trust between master and student can be maintained. Through their trust, their art and its proud name will be positively developed, and passed on to the future generations.


PHILOS-SunGood and bad both exist in this world. But humans have a natural tendency towards good. When we are born our parents selflessly support and care for our well-being. Throughout our lives we also have teachers that dedicate their lives to the development and betterment of a positive moral mentality within us. We can understand this proper mentality because these elders give us the wisdom of their life experiences.

Of course, there exists bad within nature. For the evil and negative mind, it is easy to go against the good positive mind. This antagonistic relationship exists between the good and bad, but remember that good develops goodness and bad develops evil. Think about this, if you go to jail what will you learn? If you go to your parents and teachers what will you learn?

Even though one possesses the innate nature toward good, it is easy to fall toward evil. The evil disguises and makes it seem attractive by promises of easy life, fame, and quick fortune. However, in the end, it is using our human potential to its fullest and hard work, which ensures our success. Remember this saying, “The longest distance between two points is a short cut.”

It is imperative that you chose your friends and your place of study carefully. If you have a positive mind and you surround yourself with evil minds, it will be easy to lose your goodness. There is a saying, “Even the cleanest person thrown into a pig’s pen, will look like another pig soon after.” If you want good things to happen surround yourself with good people, if you want negative things to happen surround yourself with negative people. For the benefit of yourself and your society work in a positive manner, do selfless service, accumulate virtues, do good deeds, make good use of your knowledge, know right from wrong, give proper guidance, have good intentions, treat people kindly, have good faith, have a charitable spirit, return good actions for evil actions, and know that good will triumph over vice.

Most martial art instructors and masters are practicing and teaching their Tao of good morality. All martial arts have a good mentality. Their love is like a family that contains selfless goodness for their art’s practitioners and its identity. Even between martial arts there is fair competition for whom best teaches goodness to their art’s students and who develops the best honorable identity. Remember, a knife held in the hand of a chef is good to make delicious food, however if someone with an evil mind holds this knife it will only be used to damage other humans and destroy goodness. Martial art skills are the same as this knife.


PHILOS-DukVirtues are the good qualities that build up our human society. We must possess virtue, cultivate virtue, and practice virtue in our daily lives. Know what it means to have grace, be charitable, be caring, and also understand moral teaching, moral character, and moral nature. Then you will have the good traits that provide the cornerstone for honor and well-being.

Martial art leaders must possess virtue, because their students will learn the virtues of their teacher. That is why it is so important that martial art instructors are properly qualified. If an instructor cannot teach virtue, they are not teaching a true martial art. Without virtue all a student will learn is how to become a troublemaker or to fight like gangsters. If a martial art wishes to maintain any kind of an honorable identity, they must make sure their instructors are virtuous people.


PHILOS-ChoongWithin human society there exists many different identities. First -there is a familial identity, second – there is a community identity, and finally there is a country identity. These identities define who we are as individuals, and as an individual and member of one of these identities there are certain duties that are required of us. The success of our identities and the support we give to them is our honor. That is why we must have loyalty to our family, loyalty to our community, and loyalty to our country. Our lives should be dedicated to the betterment and well-being of our larger identities. When the people of a country have strong loyalty, their country will be strongly built. That is why a country first counts its people’s loyalty. The people must give their respect, their pride, selfless service, selfless duty, selfless cooperation, and if necessary their lives for the countries protection and benefit. Of course, the leader must be strong and virtuous, fulfill their duties to the people, and in return gain the support and loyalty of the people. If society has strong loyal leadership then that society will be strong forever. Loyalty must exist for the success and strength of your identity, and also for your honor.

Parents, friends, teachers, and other role models within our society should teach loyalty by displaying loyalty. The mentalities of martial (military) arts and of military service are the best institutions to learn and develop an individual’s sense of loyalty. Your martial art is also your identity, and its name is just like a country’s name. One should never break away from the art’s identity for selfish motivations. A martial art must exist under one name and quality controlled by one governing organization. There has been a trend within the martial art community for individuals to break off from their original identity and form a “new” art or a “new” organization. The only purpose of these new manifestations is for the fulfillment of selfish desires or for the profit of one man. Either way, their martial art identity is destroyed as well as the integrity of the entire martial art community.

An individual’s loyalty should be given towards one’s art and the honor of its name. Loyalty should not be given to one man, but the art itself, just as a citizen of a country should not give loyalty to the one designated leader, but to the ideals of the nation. Even if your master makes a mistake, one should not follow such bad example. Stand strong beside your martial art and selflessly work for the benefit and honor for your next generation of practitioners.

This dilemma between the self and the whole is a widely discussed subject throughout the ages. Without the whole, there is no self, and without the self, there is no whole. One needs to make the individual strong and self-sufficient and then honor its teachers and providers by serving the whole to maximize benefit for everyone. If you have followed the trend of this selfish business model, go back to your original art’s identity. For each art’s identity there must only be one governing organization. The integrity of your art’s identity is your honor as one of its practitioners. If you left, were expelled, betrayed your martial art, or simply went to another martial art for any reason, you should give up your former art’s identity and stay true to your newly found art. You should never use its name, your former founder’s name, your former master’s name, and your former techniques. The other option of course, is to go back to your original art and make peace to find a way to share your beliefs, your goals to enhance the standards of the whole. One should not mix the techniques of your former art with your current art’s syllabus, and should not display multiple martial art names in your personal biographies. These actions only destroy the traditional identity and the honor of both arts. If you find yourself in the situation in which you are caught between multiple arts, you need to make a decision and chose one. In the end, one must take a stand. Stand for what you believe and what group you identify with. Find that one art and give your loyalty and commitment to it. The success and honor of that one art’s identity is also your success and honor.


PHILOS-YongIn the final analysis, there exist only two things – the strong and the weak. To uphold morals and honor takes much strength and courage. To fall into evil takes little effort and suffices all the excuses and doubts of the weak-minded. One must learn to stay true to the self and find a group, which most defines their beliefs. Within the human mind, there are two types of courage. One is brute courage, which resorts to violent force. This kind of barbaric courage is a human enemy because of the damage it causes to human society. The other type of courage is the courage of bravery. The ability to endure against all odds, yet stay firm to one’s convictions no matter what the cost. This kind of courage is necessary for every human society, family, and country. This is what develops the strong mentality of a human being. Without this courage, there will never be a strong country, culture, or an honorable identity. It is through this model of bravery and loyalty that human society can stand successfully against the decay of time.

It is imperative that martial art practitioners develop this strong courage. Without this courage, a weak individual will always change their attitude to sacrifice their beliefs. Therefore, under any circumstance, show your confidence and speak up about what is just! Always stand strong especially when in the presence of others, and never speak behind their backs. One of the models of strong Hwa Rang Do® courage is, “IL GEE DANG CHUN” one horsed warrior against a thousand enemies.


PHILOS-JonKyungThe first principle of human morality is Humanity. A sense of humanity is one of the most important factors in developing your character. It is this sense that will develop your respect for life. An understanding of respect is so important because this creates the foundation of your character. This proper attitude of respect reflects an understanding of humanity, the inter-connectivity of all life, and the fragility of human life.

There are three major spheres of respect. One must have respect for yourself, respect for your parents (elders), and respect for others. Respect yourself by loving who and what you are and if there is something you do not like about yourself, then have the discipline and the courage to change yourself to be the person you want to become. “Know thyself,” is used by all great teachers and great leaders of the world. One must listen to their inner voices and know who and what you are mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Respect your parents and elders for they have given you life and nurtured your growth. Their wisdom far exceeds yours, so follow them and then take care of them. As your parents brought you into this world and sacrificed part of their life to nurture and protect, you must do the same as they grow old. Respect others by being courteous and humble. Respect is given.

Even though a person displays bad human character, find something within them, which is good, give compliment, and respect them as another human being. This respect for others can only come when one learns humility and to stop being judgmental, knowing that even you are flawed. There is also a greater social concern regarding respect. Without respect, society cannot be in balance, which will cause many civil and criminal problems. Respect is important so we can live in harmony, and create a positive society. So, Be Modest – Be Humble – Be Polite – Be Civil – Be Courteous – Be Precious – Be Just – Be Selfless – Be Responsible

Martial art practitioners must first learn how to respect and be humble because they learn the skills to make a weapon out of their bodies. These combative skills are dangerous to the public, so all martial art practitioners must develop love and respect like that of a family before they learn these dangerous skills. This respect is defined by the philosophy of basic human morality.


PHILOS-MyungYaeWhat makes a human more than an animal? When an animal dies all it leaves is its pelt, when a human dies all he/she leaves is his/her name. Whether that name remains honorable or not depends on our actions today. All we have is one chance to make the most of our lives, and it is through our actions we maintain our honor. What we do and what we stand for determine the quality of our honor and our lives.

That is why it is so important to develop a strong character. Our honor is our identity, and our identity is our proud name. What we accomplish in our lives through our actions is not only for our individual success, but also for our family and our group identity. Our family names, country names, company names, martial art names are all examples of this larger identity. We must work to maintain and further develop these identities, and never destroy them. Families, countries, companies, martial arts all have a group of people that live under their name, which creates a specific identity for that name. Each family has one name that all members are proud of and develop to pass their proud name from generation to generation. That is why one must spend their lifetime dedicated to that one identity.

The martial art application to this is that one must spend their lifetime practicing one art. Even if you have learned other marital arts, you must choose one, and keep one martial art identity for your honor. Then you progress through that art’s higher-ranking system by testing in front of the founder and testing committee. This is earning a true dan degree rank. Martial Artists should never self-promote themselves with a higher rank, mix their original art with others, and never display multiple martial art names at their school. When individuals commit these actions, they are leading a dishonorable life and are not following the true marital art way. An individual can only have loyalty to one art, and when people mix different martial arts the meaning of both art names and identities disappears and is destroyed. We must follow our one tradition in order to build up that identity. That is living honorably. All of our actions are for pride in our identity and we must never do anything to destroy it.


PHILOS-SunJongObedience is one of the most important factors in preserving a martial art tradition. The life of humans, is like a flower. A flower starts first from a seed, which then develops a stem and leaves. Later the actual blossom reaches maturity, blooms, and as the blossom wilts, it drops seeds to the ground. Then the rest of the flower begins to age and die. When the stem and leaves finally fall to the ground, it begins to decay leaving its nutrients for the seed it dropped to use in order to grow up healthy. This seed will then grow using its parent’s life as the basis for its own.

One first must have respect for this process, and an understanding of the relationship between the parent flower and the child flower. The relationship of this natural process is the same as the relationship of a family. Also a martial art master and student’s relationship is the same as a parent and child’s. Parents and art “DO” masters give and teach all of their experience and knowledge to their children. This is for the sole purpose of the benefit and success of the next generation. Because parents and masters give their best to their children, the children must positively obey their parents and master.

A martial art requires even more obedience because the master makes a weapon out of the student. If the student uses those weapons without an obedient, respectful, patient, and self-defense purpose, they will go to jail and only learn bad things, and then continue along a path of darkness. So without teaching this philosophy, the martial art master will damage their student’s life and destroy a wonderful human society. That is why, Hwa Rang Do® strongly requires obedience, patience, respect, loyalty, and honor from the mentality of our wonderful martial art practitioners.


PHILOS-UeiMuHumans are different from animals because we possess civility and duty is a natural component of human civilization. Every society has duties: Duty for your parents because they brought you into this world and gave you the gift of life and selfless support; duty for your teachers because they have taught you your knowledge and your strong morality, which in turn has given you your present positions; duty for your neighbors in order to show respect and love; duty for society because it gives honor and support; duty for your company and your martial art governing association because it creates your livelihood; duty for your country because it protects you and your family.

All of these different aspects of society are needed in order to create social harmony, and each one of these aspects also has its own laws and moral principles that must be followed. All individuals must give back to this family, society, and country to develop its success. This giving back is all of our duty. Therefore, our duties are a citizen’s duty, family duty, community duty, military and country duty. Duty is beyond responsibility. Duty is an obligation, which must be fulfilled in order to maintain honor. What governs duty, the unwritten law of honor.

A martial artist’s duty is closely connected to the integrity of the art’s name. Our duty is to proudly develop and build our art’s name in order to give honor to the next generation of practitioners. Martial art styles are not business stores. Your duty is to support your art’s identity in order to maintain quality and to leave a positive legacy. This duty requires that we build one governing organization of our martial art like a country’s singular government. This way all masters and instructors can work together under one roof to support their art’s reputation and show their loyalty. This type of cooperation will ensure that the quality of the art will be passed on.

Because martial artists should be working to strengthen their art, it is a master’s, instructor’s, and student’s duty to follow their art’s laws, rules and regulations. This should be done in a selfless manner and without a bad ego. In addition, they should never compete with one another under their own art. Competition of techniques and business practices between different arts is fine if it is done justly and promotes positive values. However, competition of techniques and business practices within the same art creates disharmony between its practitioners. So under a particular art’s name, it is the duty of its practitioners to work together in order to develop their strong and harmonious martial art identity.


PHILOS-InNaeAs a human being we all have goals and dreams. However, while most people believe that their goals and dreams are an important component of their lives, only a fraction of most humans achieve their goals and dreams. Why is this?
The achievement of goals and dreams requires many things. Among these, they require a lot of dedication and hard work or else they will never become a reality. The problem that arises is that the achievement of goals and dreams takes time. And if it is a very big goal or dream, it will take even more time. The factor of time, and the ups and downs of life that undulate throughout it, is the greatest force that stops people from achieving their goals. That is why one must be patient. The ability to endure through these difficulties and remain focused on the achievement of a goal is one of the most essential qualities in actualizing the individual’s dreams.

In the martial art world, there are many people who say, “I want to be a black belt,” or “I want to be a master.” Do these people really know how much patience and practice is required before these dreams can come true? In addition, how many of the people who say this, actually achieve these true rank with honor? Knowledge and wisdom take time and dedication, as well as great sacrifices. Just like all things, knowledge requires time for growth. Knowledge alone without having the time for maturity can be more of a detriment and becomes trite information, which only takes up space in one’s mind. It can take decades or even a lifetime before someone understands this wisdom and truly becomes a master. That is why without patience, these goals and dreams will never become a reality. One of the realities about martial art training these days is that one in a thousand black belts ever reach the true master level.

This statistic is true even while a grave situation has arisen in the martial art community. There are many individuals who do not have the patience required to achieve a true master ranking. So these individuals take an easy path by creating their own organization and self-promoting themselves to a higher rank. There are also many people who train from instructional videos, then mix the techniques from all of these videos, making their own “martial style.” These “creations” are not martial arts, and they destroy the public reputation of true martial arts. There is no substitution for hands on training directly from your teacher. Many little nuances is lost when one tries to teach themselves something as complicated as martial arts. The books and videos are all training aids, but cannot stand-alone. The philosophy, the development of character, the controlling and channeling of energies, the state of mind and spirit are all lost.

To truly earn a higher ranking, one must test in front of their founder, and if they deserve the next rank, then they should be presented with a certificate from their founder that proves their honorable rank to the public. Of course, this does not always ensure that they are great fighters, but it does ensures that they have sacrificed and accomplished the requirements, demonstrating their dedication, strong character, and perseverance. A soldier who lacks in skill can make up the difference with his/her spirit. This is art, not sport. The only thing that matters is not winning, but how we live our lives and what benefit we can be to humanity. Individuals who do not go through this true process and give themselves rank, are fakers with false pride who destroy the integrity of the entire martial art community. However, what if the techniques are not effective and your goal is to be the best fighter. In all traditional martial art systems, taken to its higher levels, the stress is on mastery and when it is mastered there is no need to think or feel, but it becomes a part of one’s being. This should be our ultimate goal.

Think for a moment, we are born into one family with one parents and whether we like it or not we must carry the family’s name until we die. For those of us who view the martial art as another family, this is also true. It is our duty to make the best of the knowledge we have gained. Of course, anyone can change, give up, and quit, but this action is a dishonorable one. We are only suggesting what is “Jung Do” or honorable way. What path you take is your own, but choose wisely. Remember, the only way to show that you are a true master is to have the dedication and patience to endure.


PHILOS-BongSaHuman society relies upon human service. It is service that makes a better and strong family, community, society, country, and the world. Every human has his/her own specialty. This specialty can be natural or developed through training. Either way, there is something unique that every individual has to offer this world. Of course, these specialties are used to create your livelihood and personal success, but there is another use for these specialties, and that is in service. Volunteer service is very important to help the growth of others, your family, your society, and your country. Our specialties are for filling a space among this world and we must do our best to serve this space honorably.

If you only use your specialty for your own success the world can never be built better or stronger. That is why we must serve others. Human beings have the potential for love and selflessness without the motivation of money to direct them. Using your specialty in this manner is what volunteering means. An individual can do service for your god, service for family, service for community, service for society, service for country, and service for the world. All of these types of service are needed for yourself, as well as others, in order to have respect for human morality.

Martial art service is like familial service. If you love your martial art, then you should help each other and share your specialty. It is important to have positive emotion, not negative. Only through a positive way can you build yourself and your art. So under one art’s organization all black belts, instructors, and masters need to volunteer their services and specialties in order to selflessly build their art. That way, their art’s name will be greatly respected by the public and society, and their honor will pass from generation to generation, forever. Furthermore, service and selflessness is what is most noble.


PHILOS-JaShinWhy are some individuals strong and have the ability to stand for something, while other individuals are weak and stand for nothing? Creating success and doing what is right, is a hard task. It takes many things to achieve something great, like hard work, practice, patience, etc. But, before it is possible to begin taking steps to achieve success, one must have belief.

Having conviction in your beliefs is essential to having the ability to stand by your beliefs. This conviction is your self-confidence. Without conviction or self-confidence it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to endure through the obstacles that lie in your path or even the smallest obstacles that directly confront your beliefs.

One must have strong positive emotion in order to achieve success. Negative emotion will only drown your self-confidence, leaving you with less than average results. Self confidence needs to be present in all areas of our lives in order to follow through with our true beliefs at all times. We need to have self-confidence in our social, familial, personal, and especially moral aspects of our lives. Otherwise, we will only be thinking about what we believe instead of actualizing what we believe.

As a martial artist this self-confidence is of extreme importance. Because we learn dangerous techniques we have more responsibility to know what is right and live honorably. If we cannot stand by these principles that make up our honor, then we are weak and do not deserve to be called a martial artist. This self-confidence and conviction in the principles that define honor is our foundation. We must maintain a positive and strong mind in order to better cultivate our success and our understanding of our true convictions. If you can manage this, the achievement of any goal is possible. If it is a goal related to your work, to your martial skills, to your personal life, or your family, self-confidence needs to be your starting point. Then combine this with hard work and patience, and your goals and beliefs will become a reality and you will know success.


PHILOS-ChekImEvery human has the potential for greatness. However, humans also make many mistakes. That is our natural order. That is also, why human society has morals for people as well as laws. As a component of human society we also have responsibility. All of us are a part of a family, a group of friends, a company, a community, and a country. All of these different aspects of our lives define our position among the world. At the same time, we must also know what responsibilities are required of us, depending on what our position is. No matter what position we have, responsibility is required of us and if we forget this responsibility, human society will fall into disharmony and be destroyed. All people have commitments to others, at work, to friends, and to our families. This is a part of our daily lives, and these commitments are big, small, and everything in between. However, they are all-important and cannot be forgotten. That is our responsibility.

It is our duty to fulfill our responsibilities and be accountable for our actions. When people achieve success, it is very easy for most of us to say that it was “I” who was responsible for that success. However, when we make mistakes, it is hard for us and often brings great pain to say that “I” was responsible. This is something that everyone feels, but even though it is hard we must be responsible and accept the consequences.

Martial artists must really be responsible because their knowledge can cause great harm. Once you learn the skills that can injure or kill others, they cannot be used at whim. As well as teaching martial skills it is the responsibility of martial art instructors and masters to teach human morality. In addition, as well as teaching it, they themselves must act and follow these teachings. Otherwise, they are making a weapon out of their students that have no restraint. This will cause great harm to other students, themselves, and the rest of society.

For example, a martial art has the founder’s philosophy. Combined with this are various rules and regulations that govern the management, quality, and overall way that particular martial art is identified. Masters and instructors must promise and swear their commitment to these principles of the art. However, there are always people who make this commitment and then do not follow through with their responsibilities and break their oaths. These people turn their backs on their martial art’s responsibilities. Once this happens, how can a student with an honorable character follow these kinds of “instructors?” If we act in a manner that disregards our martial art responsibilities, then we are really destroying our martial art’s identity.

Without this moral responsibility the martial art society will turn into a group of gangsters. It will only be about street fighting and human moral responsibilities will disappear. This will cause the public to disrespect the martial art community and create a bad reputation for our wonderful martial art identities. We must constantly discover and then fulfill our responsibilities. This requires reflection into the truth of our positions, as well as acceptance of our actions. Only then will we be able to realize what our responsibilities are, and be able to act honorably.


PHILOS-HyupDongA single chopstick is easy to break, but one hundred chopsticks bundled together are impossible to break. Cooperation is necessary for the further growth and betterment of our human society. Of course there are times when fair competition is good too, but cooperation is necessary to provide and ensure the success of the next generation. In nature, an animal dies to give their meat to humans, but when a human dies, what do they leave? A human only leaves an honorable name.

That is why we invest our time and hard work into building something. We can work to build a strong and successful company, a strong government, and/or a strong community. We must all work together in order to achieve these goals. Without cooperation what will occur? Will a family, a company, or a nation survive and know success? Think about this analogy. Two people set out to climb a mountain. On their way up, they fight and pull each other down only so they themselves can climb further up. It is obvious that the entire climb will be a great struggle filled with wasted energy and strength. However, if these two individuals pushed and pulled each other up in mutual cooperation, their climb to the top would be much easier. Within a martial art, all masters, instructors, and students must cooperate in a manner that maintains the traditional and honorable identity of their martial art. However, in present times there are many individuals under one martial art name that are in competition with each other. There are many who are working only for their own selfish motivations and personal gains.

In some cases the traditional martial art identity seems to have been totally forgotten. Everywhere there are individuals who have made their own “martial art” or their own “organization.” These actions have only caused conflict between members of the same martial art and have more importantly destroyed their martial art’s identity. These arts have become generic and now it will take great effort for the next generation to rebuild their art’s honor. If these actions continue the public will never trust the martial art community. The martial art community must work together in order to protect itself from the many improper organizations that exist today. We must protect our art’s identities against these dishonorable individuals. Then as a community we can regain our respect and once again work to build a better society.


PHILOS-HyoDoWhere did you come from? You were made from your father and grown by your mother. Remember the flower that blooms and then drops its seed to the ground. This flower then dies and gives its body and nutrients for the strength of its seed, the next generation. The same care must be given to a human’s family name. Generation after generation, parents selflessly give everything they can to their children.

Humans are different than animals. An animal grows quickly, and as soon as it can care for itself it leaves its parents and sets out on its own. Once an animal grows, it forgets its family because it lives an independent life. Humans on the other hand are weak for a long time after birth. Children need constant care and attention for many years, and the parent takes this responsibility. This is the beauty of the natural order. The purpose of this is for humans to understand the idea of interdependence. As in the Chinese character for human, which is a single line, leaning against another. This is to symbolize that humans cannot stand-alone. Because of the nature of this relationship between parent and child, we must have filial piety. A parent gives everything for the success of their child. This is not just in terms of financial or material well-being, but a parent also gives the concepts of humanity and morality to their child.

Think about how much love you have given back to your parents. If it were not for your parents you would not even exist. Think about who gave you your life, and never disobey your parents. Rich or poor, never blame your parents. If you follow their teachings in a good manner, you will never lead a bad life. All a parent wants is a better life for you. Always remember that you must be the model case. Someday you will be the parent and your children will follow your example. If you treat your parents well, then your children will treat you well. Your children learn everything you do. You can even hear the sound of your own footsteps from the sound of your child’s. That is why human morality first counts loyalty and filial piety.

The relationship between a martial art instructor and his students is the same as that of a parent and child. The same manner in which a parent instructs their child in the way of human morality, is the same manner in which a martial art instructor must teach their student. Because the instructor is teaching dangerous skills, they must maintain a relationship in which the instructor is the parent and the student is the child. An instructor and student cannot be friends, just as a father and son cannot be friends. We must maintain the proper relationship and filial duties that our position dictates. That way an honorable martial art can be passed generation-to-generation, just as the family name is passed through time.


PHILOS-JungJikWithin human society there is a common rule of honesty. Our society can be built in a wonderful manner if it is done with an honest mind. In fact, if all humans were honest, we would not need laws. Honesty is the foundation for trustworthiness. In order to receive trust from others, one must be honest to oneself and tell the truth. Telling truths are not always an easy matter, but it is always the best way. Then, even being honest requires one to be strong. However, one must understand that there should always be consideration for time and place. What is appropriate at one time in one place is not always true at another time and place. This requires wisdom and compassion.

One should not lie because even a 1,000 lies are not worth even a single truth. In addition, one should not lie; because once you start to lie, you will find yourself covering up your original lies with more false claims and stories. However, if you put forth the truth, you will always find truth in what is given back to you.

Presently within the martial art community many falsehoods exist. Selfish egos have lead individuals to make claims, which are simply untrue. For example, there are many lies about their ranks, titles, and even years that they have practiced. In the hopes that they can gain credibility for their business, these individuals call themselves instructors, masters, and even grandmasters when they have never received these titles from anyone. Some of these individuals speak to their students about having one loyalty to their art, when they themselves have broken off and betrayed their original art. The hypocrisy that has been created by lies is disgraceful. Stay true to the ranks, titles, and positions you have truly earned. Then you will be respected by who you truly are and after all, isn’t that what we really want?


PHILOS-JungDoWithin human society, there exists the right path. In life there are many paths one can take to live their lives, but there exists one path, which is in harmony with all things and reveals what is true. It is this path that we must always strive to discover. This is why humans must find an honest career for their livelihood. If you follow the right path of your career, you will always find success, but if you follow the wrong path, your house will be that of a sandcastle on the edge of the ocean. Sooner or later it will be all washed up. However, one should not measure success on the basis of wealth or fame, but by their ability to maintain the right path.

The martial art practitioner must know and follow the right path. One philosophy of Hwa Rang Do® is, “JUNGDO SUHEANG,” which means, “Following the true path is one’s duty.” Each specific martial art has its own right path, which is defined in its syllabus. You must stay true and follow the way, the “Do or Tao,” of your specific martial art. One should not mix the paths of multiple martial art styles, but stay true to your own. They are different and contain within themselves their own specific philosophy. When the paths of different martial arts are crossed, the way is destroyed and becomes confused for the future generation of practitioners. One may have their own specific approaches, a variation of specific techniques, which one has discovered after years of training. These discoveries can be taught separately, but the main curriculum should not be changed. That is the foundation of the art and should remain consistent throughout all of eternity.

The right path for a martial art must also be defined in relationship to its governing organization. The governing organization exists as the means of enforcing and maintaining the laws, rules and regulations of the specific martial art as well as maintaining quality control. Now there are some individuals that believe they can exist within their art, but outside of the jurisdiction of their governing organization. These selfish instructors embezzle a small amount of money for their own personal profit in total disregard of their art’s longevity or integrity. Now these individuals also give and sell dan degree ranks and titles for their own profit, again destroying their art’s identity. The martial art governing organization is the one body that has the authority to define the right way for that particular martial art. This is not to say that the organization is only for one man or a group of individuals. The governing organization exists to help ensure that the right way exists and is followed for all of its practitioners. Then the integrity of the art’s identity can grow and be honorable. This is true for all types of organized groups.

Do not break away from your martial art’s governing organization. This organization will direct the spirit and philosophy of your art throughout the entire world, and this will provide great benefits to you as an instructor or practitioner. These organizations are not for the profit of one man, and their efforts are dedicated completely to those who are involved in their art. Rather than finding faults, making complaints, creating negativity, one should focus on how he/she can better assist the growth and maintenance of the organization. In this way, everyone can benefit. However, in order to have a voice, one must demonstrate and earn the respect and trust of all the members of such organization. This requires that one follow “JUNG DO”. If you spend your lifetime serving the benefit of your particular martial art, the rewards are obvious. However, as it states in the “Tao Te Ching,” “One should work hard and after the work is done, everyone says, I’ve done it.” As martial artists, leaders, teachers, and keepers of old values, we should not work for reward sake, but for the betterment of others and in so doing, we have enhanced the positive energy of the universe. What greater reward can one receive than this? This is your responsibility to your art’s governing organization. That way the “right way” of your art can flourish.


PHILOS-JungShinIt is very important for human society that its members have a positive spirit. With a positive spirit and attitude it is possible to build anything. However, if you have a negative spirit your accomplishments will be few and far between. Positive or negative, the foundation of your mentality and heart determines the results of you actions. This perspective of positive and negative can be seen in the son who helps his parents in the garden. The son with a positive spirit sees that he is helping his parents to provide food and benefit for the family. However, the son who has a negative spirit only feels that his efforts and position is that of a slave.

If you join a group or association it is important that you have a positive spirit. That way you will complete actions that benefit the entire group. On your way to the top of the mountain, never pull your partners down. If you work in a negative manner, you and your partners will never reach the top of the mountain. On the other hand if you cooperate and help each other up in a positive manner it will be easy to reach the summit. Keep that strong positive framework, and then it will be easy to achieve your goals. Understand and feel the power of these virtues, and you will know the positive spirit. Love, forgiveness, obedience, courtesy, respect, trust, honor, loyalty, dignity, truth, duty, justice, wisdom, goodness, virtue, bravery, patience, service, responsibility, filial piety, and humanity.

This kind of spirit also applies to the martial artist. If your master or instructor follows a negative path and acts dishonorably, you must not follow his/her ways. Betrayal of your art is unacceptable, and as a student it is your duty to correct your teachers if they are following the wrong path.

The fighting skills of our arts are not everything. Instead they are a vehicle for the development of our characters and our spirits. Once you gain the knowledge of martial skills, you should understand the fragility of life. Life is a special gift and it is filled with opportunity. This realization greatly influences the positive mind. Combined with the proper spirit an individual who possesses martial knowledge, can then work in a positive manner for the benefit of your identity and your society.


PHILOS-HonShinHumans cannot exist and survive by themselves. This is because of the natural Um and Yang system that exists within the universe. There is harmony between a man and a woman, between child and parents, between friends, between families, and between countries and societies. Through mutual respect and cooperation humanity exists. If you think only of yourself without an understanding of humanity how can society survive? This basic morality and compassion for others is disappearing in modern society. Most individuals are thinking of themselves, but ask yourself, “If a child does not care for their parents in old age, how can they live?” If a wife and husband only think of themselves, how will their marriage last? If organizational members think only of themselves, why do they need an organization in the first place? Can any human being make anything without the cooperation of others? These are pretty simple answers. Of course selfless action and cooperation is necessary for survival and success. The other option is to act selfishly, but this kind of action will destroy the world and society.

Martial art practitioners must also understand the importance of selfless action. The skills of your art came from your founder, who themselves received them from the traditional way of passing these skills generation-to-generation. As each individual martial art teacher understands this value and helps their students to learn the same, it becomes the responsibility of each student to continue the tradition of their martial art identity. Yes, we have to make a living, but think again to yourself, are you living or surviving? The world needs good teachers who can guide them in the right path. “A teacher affects eternity.” What greater service can one offer to humanity, than to create a positive path for the youth to follow in order to preserve the traditional values of love, respect, and honor. When such selfless deeds are accomplished, the rewards maybe be unseen by the individual, but it’s affect will resonate throughout eternity.


PHILOS-GongBuEveryone within human society needs knowledge. Only then can everyone give something to the overall benefit and well-being of society. There are many areas of study that benefit the society. There is academic study, moral study, scientific study, social study, study of the arts, and study of combat skills, etc. There is a saying that can provide a framework for the martial artist, “MUN MU IL DO” – one must study equally the combination of academic and martial skills. Then you will truly develop the qualities of a warrior.

There is another saying that describes the way one must study. It is, “JEONGSHIN ILDO HASA BULSEONG,” if you have mental concentration, nothing is impossible.

The study of martial arts requires patience and a strong moral mentality. Most martial arts are proud of their own skills. Nobody can say that their style is the best, because their style has the best method for their particular techniques. However, the level of study and practice are different between individuals. Many martial arts have similar skills in their beginning levels, and differ in variety in their advanced training. Presently there are many people who spend a short time studying multiple styles. If a person studies 5 different martial arts for a two year period each, would they be better than someone who spent the same amount of time, 10 years, studying one martial art? The answer is no, because the person who only studied one art would have learned the basic and the deeper level of advanced techniques.

The study of multiple martial arts for short periods is like licking the surface of a watermelon. Doing this you will never know what delicious fruit lies within. Train hard and do not lie about how long you have trained. Some people say they have trained for ten years, but they have only trained once a week or once every other week for that time period. Others may have only trained for 3 years, but have studied six days a week. Who do you think has real knowledge? Do not be deceived by the amount of time people profess to have studied. Count their ranks and titles, and where they received them. That is why martial arts have ranking systems. Your honor and your position is reflected in the actions you have completed. The position you have is what you deserve. Never lie about who you truly are. Do not be lazy, know what you have done, know who you are, and know who you want to be. Then all you need to do is practice and study hard to achieve the results you desire.