Tenets of Taekwondo

The tenets are easy to remember using the acronym “ISCIP” (prounounced “I skip”):

While we have heard many interesting pronunciations of the tenets, the words themselves are not as important as striving to use these values in your life as a Wabi-Sabi student. Being a martial artist is about your behaviour both inside and outside of the dojang. Because of their imprtance, we incorporate the tenets into our gradings and training. Please note that students can be held back from grading if there is a significant breach of their tenets.

Below are the tenets and explanations:


Knowing the difference between right and wrong. If a student does something wrong, to feel bad about it. Within the dojang, students should honestly attempt to do whatever the instructor asks. If they are asked to do 20 press-ups, they should not do only 10 because the instructor is not watching. Outside the dojang, students should not misrepresent themselves.


This tenet is extremely important inside and outside the dojang, either conducting oneself in free sparring or in one’s personal affairs. Good self-control in free sparring enables you to execute stunning techniques without injuring your partners. Good self-control in daily life allows you to work comfortably and confidently with others.


Students should show respect to all people regardless of age, gender or race. Respect and courtesy should be shown to instructors and to higher ranking students. Students should be polite and encourage a sense of justice. Students should constantly look within themselves and not be quick to judge others.


Never be afraid to be yourself and trust your judgment. Indomitable spirit is what enables you to keep your ideals and your identity in the face of overwhelming pressures. It is the strength to reject the things that “everyone else is doing” if you believe them to be wrong.


Nothing of worth comes easily and perseverance and patience are required to excel at anything. Students should stick to their goals even if they fail a hundred times, knowing that it is simply part of the journey in order to succeed. Students should try again and again, confident that they will succeed in their goal as long as that goal is a worthy one.

The martial arts skills learned in Taekwondo are to be used to prevent conflict and violence. Never should a Taekwondo student initiate physical conflict, and the techniques of Taekwondo should be used only as a last resort in self defence or in the defence of another person. Essentially, Taekwondo students are expected to be model citizens and work for the betterment of their community.

Tenets Poem

Integrity is the simple rule,
of being honest at home and in school,
It’s never cheating when taking a test,
or thinking you’re better than all of the rest,
to lie or steal just wouldn’t be right,
so try to be honest with all your might.

Self-Control states a simple fact,
you should always think before you act,
it’s standing in class, not a muscle you twitch,
even if you only scratch an itch,
it’s counting to ten when things make you mad,
then walking away because fighting is bad.

Courtesy is giving a bow,
to Black Belts and teachers who show you how,
it’s doing your chores before you are asked,
and being helpful in every class,
it’s simple words like “thank you” and “please”,
and never, ever to hurt or to tease.

Indomitable Spirit is showing no fear,
and not freezing up when trouble is near,
it’s knowing in life there’s some risks you must take,
and along the way some mistakes you may make,
it’s standing up proudly and thinking with glee,
I’m OK! I can do it! I believe in me!

Perseverance is telling you heart,
you’re going to finish the things that you start,
it’s refusing to quit when the going gets tough,
or starting to cry when the sparring get rough,
it’s not giving up on the board you must break,
no matter how many tries it may take.