Precepts of Korean Traditional Archery

Many of the most important values and practices within Korean Traditional Archery have been written and preserved in Chinese character writing. Before Korea had its own Hangul alphabet, all writing within the penninsula was done by borrowing the Chinese system of writing. Even in modern day Korea, Chinese characters are still found in some official governmental documents, in many traditional arts, and in the proper names and of buildings, temples, people and businesses.

A simple example of the Korean use of Chinese characters is seen in the name of one of Korea's largest business conglomerates, Hyundai. Looking at the table below, you can see that the individual meaning for two seperate characters come together to take on a larger meaning. In this case, Hyundai translates to mean 'modern times' or 'modernity', and is a symbol for Korea's growth and economic strength in the 20th and 21st centuries.

 

English pronunciation Korean alphabet  Original Chinese character English meaning
Hyun now, current
Dae generation

 

The precepts of Korean Traditional Archery - and any other influential expressions - all use Chinese characters in the original source. As you read and interpret the writing on these webpages, please remember that the translations and interpretations written here are only one possible understanding of the original Chinese. The subtlety within each expression exists in part to the combination of  both the author's historical context, as well as the numerable meanings that each character can have. It is not my intent here to give definitive descriptions of each expression, but instead simply share with as many people as possible the basic comprehended understanding of each precept. These writings form the basis for Korean Traditional Archery's ettiquite and moral code. They are very necessary to understand the correct manner of behaving during archery practice or when speaking with another archer. They also shed light on the origins of Korean archery and history, since it could easily be argued that some of these writings share ties with Confucius' teachings, making them over 2000 years old!


These are the 9 precepts of Korean Traditional Archery

 

 ( Interesting to note: The precepts are written vertically, that is from the top down, which is a common practice in both Korea and China. The list of precepts is also listed from right to left, a practice which is occasionally still used. )

 

Because the origins of Korean archery predate the invention of the Hangul alphabet by many centuries, archers look to these Chinese character precepts as a valuable time capsule and accurate historical record which govern the correct behavior and attitudes of Korean archery. As such, I have included all nine precepts and their general interpretations on this website. Additionally, I have included several common expressions regarding archery. These expressions, while not all necessarily instructive in the etiquitte or behavior of archers, do shed some light on the mindset of archery in general. Some of the expressions make poetic comments on the technique of archery, and others focus more on the metaphysical. At the very least, they provide a deeper and richer context in which to enjoy archery as mental exercise. Further reading into the original context and meaning of these precepts can be found in Korean literature, and originally in the writing and teachings of Confucius' Analects. In time, I hope to add translations and interpretations of these writings to the website.

Those students of KTA who are unfamilar with Chinese characters do not need to worry. Teachers of KTA will explain the meaning and interpretations of the relevant precepts, and students themselves will be given ample opportunity to come to understand and value the core beliefs of Korean Traditional Archery. In fact, much of what is taught in the beginners level course of KTA focuses on the etiquitte and correct behavior of every archer.