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The Right Way

Although a quick web search shows that the most common translation of Ji Do Kwan is “Way of Wisdom” or “School of Wisdom,” when I was a new student, my teachers often referred to an alternate translation: “The Right Way.” I don’t know how my teachers came upon this language, but I’ve always valued both its surface meaning and the layer it takes on when applying martial arts training to life outside the dojang.

We strive to incorporate mindfulness, clarity, courtesy, and sincere intention in all our actions.

First, the foregrounded meaning. My teachers were always quick to say that “The Right Way” does not mean that Ji Do Kwan techniques are correct and others have flaws, that our school is the ultimate martial art, that other styles are somehow deficient, or anything along those lines. Instead, it means that we pay rigorous attention to correct technique as we understand it, and this pursuit of perfection is one of our school’s most important values. There is a beauty and a logic to the motions we practice, and we strive to achieve the state where aesthetics, power, accuracy, economy, and a number of other important factors converge in flawless execution. Any student in our school knows exactly what this means, and it’s why I often tell new students that if the challenge of studying ballet or classical piano in a conservatory sounds appealing, they’re likely to enjoy training with us. People who play piano scales for hours to get them faster and more accurate, or to practice a difficult combination of dance steps until their feet crack and bleed would certainly feel a common experience with studying with us. The pursuit of technical perfection isn’t the purpose of our journey, but it’s at the heart of the journey, and if you understand and seek this kind of training for its own sake, our school is a place to find it.

This notion of “The Right Way” is larger than the physical training we follow in the dojang, however—it applies to every aspect of life. In broad strokes, it means avoiding shortcuts, compromises, and settling for anything less than your best. Instead, we strive to incorporate mindfulness, clarity, courtesy, and sincere intention in all our actions. Examples include:

  • being polite and respectful when relating to others
  • being true to your word: punctual, reliable, and thorough
  • choosing the better, more difficult course of action—seeking challenges instead of coasting

In future blog posts, I’ll describe specific examples of how The Right Way manifests in our practice. As these posts accumulate, they’ll be collected on this page. Please read and think about them, because although the technical training we spend so much time on is very important, living The Right Way—both inside and outside the dojang—is one part of the cultural experience that makes Ji Do Kwan training more than just physical exercise, like Zumba or Crossfit.

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