Lee, Chang Hoo (aka Master Blue) trans. Steve Carpener
I clench my fist
Not to fell a firmly rooted tree,
Nor to catch a fish
Rushing into calm water,
Nor to spout flame from my soaring breast,
Nor to put on wings that
I might fly to lofty areas
But that I may enter
From the small, quiet place
Inside my tightly clenched,
Softly trembling fist
Into the way towards a boundless life
Opening endlessly before my eyes.
Taekwondo is a way, a way of life.
All that was separated again can meet.
Through this everything is seen
To become one.
I can find my real self and so
Toward perfection turn.
Mind and body when harmonized make the human being whole.
Thought and action when harmonized free each from the other.
Motion and stay when harmonized lead to tranquility.
Yielding and stoutness when harmonized create power.
Strength and weakness when harmonized brings about tenderness.
Drawing and erasing when harmonized paints a
picture without form.
Eternity and an instant when harmonized produces a possibility.
Myself and another when harmonized makes we.
Air and ground when harmonized becomes the earth.
Living and dying when harmonized breathes as a life.
Inhaling and exhaling when harmonized is a
cycle of renewal and
Hand and foot when harmonized forms martialism
but Military and literary when harmonized is art and this brings philosophy.
When all these are blended they melted into one.
This one then is perfect and is equal to nothingness.
When everything finally reaches the peak
There is no longer a difference between
being or not.
I stand alone in the midst of this emptiness
Then I and others appeared in a breath and
My real self can walk the path without
I erase myself
My adversary and I, in the midst of our
Through my chosen way Taekwondo,
I must erase myself.
First I erase my mind, all thoughts,
Then I erase my actions and
Finally my body.
Ultimately, when all is wiped out
I can merge into my opponent's intent gaze.
I would be everywhere, yet
I cannot be found.
Then will my opponent's movements
Become my own and
In this union of action a
Tender flow of motion controls me and
In it, my opponent is overcome.
My opponent and I locked
In our frozen confrontation.
I erase myself and in doing so
My opponent is lost and left behind
Is and empty space where none exist.
Taekwondo should be an art with
Which to draw myself.
First should be drawn the boundaries of the
The empty space filled in with the color of the sky.
Then erasing myself and forming myself are the same.
I remain standing in a featureless drawing
And my form can vanish
Then how would I be imagined.
Taekwondo is language.
A dialogue between subjectivity and objectivity,
Between my opponent and I,
Now and then
Mind and body
Tradition and innovation
Between change and constancy,
Man and nature
Being and nothingness.
The Language is spoken by the hands and feet.
All these being equal,
From what is in front of me
I see what lies ahead.
From a tiny beginning
I can achieve great things and
Move my opponent using only my will.
What could be done
Within the narrow space closed and firm,
If I cannot see my way outside of myself
I will look inside and
Master my adversary by
Attaching my own vulnerabilities.
In facing an opponent
We can see life and death cross,
when we feel we must live
Only for the sake of live in
Death awakens outside our bodies.
In the moment life and death cross
We can see our gaze reflected in our opponent's eyes.
The heart which holds the universe huddles,
The muscles of the chest breathe deeply
As if to support the cowering heart.
The arms cross the inclined body and
Softly come alive.
Earth is the mother of life,
The humble center is balanced
Being and nothingness awaken where
The feet are planted.
In hiding my own breath
The opponent's breath is sought.
Rhythm is perceived in the breathing:
Distance is found in rhythm
Offense and defense are determined by distance.
Offense and defense are the whole question of existence.
Taekwondo is the way to perfect rhythm.
Within all things of the earth there
Beats a hidden rhythm.
Nature wills the unity of this rhythm.
In this, man's will is activated.
Opponents attempt to break each other's rhythm
So I absorb my opponent's rhythm and
Through my own rhythm
Disperse that of my adversary.
A broken rhythm is confused
Confusion easily dominated.
And so through a tiny motion
Something meaningful is achieved.
Taekwondo is language.
The rhythm of the language creates distance.
Offense and defense are founded on distance;
Ideal distance sees my opponent's attack fall
Short while mine strikes home.
This is the fruit of harmony between time and space;
To find this distance I must erase myself.
In the midst of lunge and retreat
While fixing the opponent's gaze,
Two worlds are created on
The pillars of Space and time.
As the two mingle with each other
One is designed to fall and
When a world falls its
Master falls with it
Whose world is first perfected,
That is the man who is seen to stand.
Taekwondo, in truth makes me one with my opponent.
To strike the opponent's most vulnerable place is to
Strike a place in the universe.
When I strike my opponent I
Strike with all that is in me,
There is no difference between fullness and emptiness.
I am grasped by fullness while
Through emptiness my
Opponent's attack becomes futile.
By softly striking a weak point
I can subdue the adversary without
Being contrary to reason,
A good attack never demands excessive
Never ruin but control,
Redirection not interference and
Attaining victory using the
Opponent's own power.
The ideal offense produces
Power from the force of the opponent's blow,
It does not oppose but only blends.
If I attack with excessive force
I may destroy myself as well.
If I fail to convert my opponent's force into mine
We both will tremble with shock.
Attack and Defense differ
Only in name
Their oneness relies merely on
How sharply they are honed.
By releasing my spirit in the form of a yell
My opponent's desire is overwhelmed.
All is a dialogue between the Subjective and the objective
If something cannot be found in the subjective
Then by objectivity can the opponent's
Subjectivity be dismantled.
Taekwondo is enriched by lines straight and curved,
a curved line let run
Comes to stand as a circle.
A circle in itself is a
Within it, the universe perhaps can be seen
All is closed out or easily received.
A straight line is a sharp course
Yet also is weak,
It is drawn quickly to strike
Through all restraints,
Upon our foe.
A curved line has strength while
A straight line has speed,
A straight line and curved line
Unite in a circle but
Standing alone outside of a circle a
Straight line can be seen to exist by itself.
A straight line to my foe and a
Circle to me.
The result of a union of these
Two into one is that
Taekwondo transforms from a word
Martialism is a two edged sword
Used to feel both opponent and self
How is it we fail to temper our deeds,
Taekwondo, in truth says its right to avoid
Action excessive and tells us instead that
Through one single action we
Can certainly make others alive.
Standing alone in solitude
My mind stabalized in frozen tranquility
I firmly clench my fists and center them
When action takes place in the company of
One movement after another fells the
From the stories of our bodies' many actions
The boundless knowledge of wise is formed.
Through the formality of ceaseless training
There emerges freedom that is not indifferent and
In each instant of formal motion a
New creation is found.
It is not my creation but
Is the shape of us all from
The past through the future a
Creation for all eternity.
As movements repose and the fists
Return to their starting place,
From the vitality of the soul the
Mind deeply breaths and
Again becomes tranquil while
Two sparkling eyes gaze
Through the thick wall of time at
I clench my fist and
From people who smile
Beneath a vast sky
I seek the path to the
Subtle meaning of my life.