Tae kwon-do can be good for
by Katherine Kayser
up after a tae kwon-do demonstration are, left to right:
Darden professors Andrea Larson, Sankaran Venkataraman,
Jim Freeland; tae kwon-do instructor Bobby Parmar, who is
a second-year U.Va. student; professors Ed Freeman and James
By Matt Kelly
for your consideration: Tae kwon-do as a business strategy.
Edward Freeman, who teaches business ethics at Darden
and is a student of the Korean defensive art of tae kwon-do, thinks
the ancient art is a good metaphor for todays business,
and applying the principles can prepare his students for their
is not about war, its about making value.
Darden business ethics professor
the Olsson Professor of Business Administration and a member of
the Institute for Practical
Ethics, was drawn into tae kwon-do by his children. He thought
it a good exercise for them and a way to work out energy, but
it held no attraction for him at first there was no ball
and no one kept score. But as he watched his children, and looked
at the slogans posted around the dojang, promoting a strong mind,
courtesy and perseverance, he was drawn in.
were blending ethics and a physical side, he said.
he eschews the idea that business is war, Freeman said that a
properly applied defensive system can lead to success. He takes
martial arts ideas of cooperation, defensive thinking and avoiding
combat and translates them into guidance for his students.
Never assume there is just one attacker. Freeman said that in
making a defensive move on one side, assume there is a second
attacker coming from behind. He said from a business stand point,
people should be open to new ideas that come from the side or
from behind. Freeman cited IBM, which was watching other large
business machine companies as their competition, instead of smaller,
newer companies like Apple and Dell, which became major competition.
Do not attack, but always be prepared to defend. Freeman said
it is always a mistake to attack.
spend too much time worrying about the other guy, Freeman
said of its business application. This shows there is another
way. If you are prepared to defend, then no offense will work.
You need to be vigilant, strong. Make yourself invincible, so
no one will attack you. The victory is in not fighting.
Improve yourself all the time. Tae kwon-do is a collaborative
sport, depending on working together instead of on competing to
train with other people, because someone has to attack,
Freeman said. But if someone gets hit, then two people made
is not about war, its about making value, Freeman
said, rejecting the notion abroad in the land that business is
about getting the other guy. Business, he said, is the art of
cooperation. Businesses should be competing with themselves, striving
can work together instead of worrying about the other guy,
Freeman said. This is the heart of capitalism.
said that many teachers are emphasizing the conflict aspects of
martial arts in business. I think they are all wrong. Martial
arts are not about war, but lessons of life. They [other teachers]
are promoting conflict, not self-improvement.
stressed that business should be about the joy of creating and
pursuing that which a person has a passion about. You have
to make a profit to stay in business, but making a profit is not
the spurpose of business, he said.
he became a student, with his wife and children, he spread the
word and brought in friends, including Jim Freeland, dean of faculty
at Darden. At the beginning of the semester, Freeman, Freeland,
Andrea Larson, James Clawson and Sankaran Venkataraman participated
in a demonstration at Darden with 13 other students from the International
Black Belt Center. Freeman said many colleagues know about their
practice of tae kwon-do, and this event offered an opportunity
to show them what was involved.
who practice tae kwon-do think its the best thing in the
world and that everybody should do it, he said.
who has been taking tae kwon-do for five years, said it relieves
stress and helps him clarify what is important, which he said
makes him more effective in the classroom. It was six months before
he could tell the difference, he said.
took a couple of years to see how it made me a better teacher,
he said. And I dont yet understand the full extent
of the power I am dealing with here.
One change in his teaching style was a shift from shaping the
students into developing what is already there.
allows me to take the students from where they are to where they
could be rather than where I would like them to be, he said.
teacher understands where the student is, both physically and
mentally, Freeman said, adding that most students cannot
push as hard on a subject on their own as they can with a teacher.
a lot like a mentor relationship in a company, Freeman said.
A mentor pushes you to make yourself better. This is the
lesson for business. It is not about competition, but about making
is important in any discipline, it helps to trust the instructor.
time tae kwon-do has become a part of who he is, said Freeman.
He talks with his students about it, in many cases overturning
the notion of a testosterone-filled guy screaming and jumping
acknowledges that martial arts are not for everybody and said
that it is a way of life, not just a point of view. Tae kwon-do
is great exercise, he said, and stresses the act is its own reward,
as in business, where the joy should be in creating.
said it is also a discipline that forces brutal honesty. It
makes you take a hard look at yourself, both strengths and weaknesses,