What is Love?
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
In our practice of Tae Kwon Do, we are constantly asked to be examples of love and teach others to become more loving. How can this be? We are involved in a martial art that teaches us how to kick and punch (Tae-Kwon). Using our feet and hands to perform a variety of kicks and punches, we become quite formidable in our skills of attack. But there is another part of what we do that actually teaches us to love, as well. So, what exactly is love and how can we learn to become more loving and help others learn this strongest emotion? How can Tae Kwon Do help us do this? This is exactly where the “Do” of Tae Kwon Do becomes significant.
Love is probably the most important emotion you will feel throughout your life. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we throw this word around carelessly until the meaning becomes watered down and less significant. Some people use it too often, while others may never use it. Some will use it to get what they want from someone, and some will use it to convince themselves that they actually feel this emotion. And while there are several types of love that have been identified, you will likely experience four over your lifetime.
One type is Storge (STOR-jay) love. This is a Greek word which describes affectionate family love; the type that develops between parents and children, brothers and sisters. It is probably the most common love that is known by most people from birth. The Bible gives many examples of Storge love, where families protect each other, give to each other, and provide for each other. In Romans 12:10 we are instructed to “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.” You will hear people call each other “brother” or “sister” and, even though they are not related, there is a family feeling expressed.
Another type is Philia (FILL-ee-uh) love. This Greek term describes an intimate love and is like the strong emotional bond between very close friends. It is a general type of love that includes love for fellow humans, care, respect, and compassion for people in need. Examples are often found in the Bible and this was taught by Jesus when he told his disciples that others would know them to be his followers if they “love one another; as I have loved you” as found in John 13:34. Their deep friendship and message of God’s love would be an example for others.
A third type is Eros (AIR-ohs) love, a Greek word describing sexual desire, physical attraction, and physical sensual or romantic love. This is an erotic love that is expected to be reserved for married couples. One of the problems is that people sometimes confuse passion for love and this can lead to huge disappointments and moral dilemmas in life. There are numerous stories in the Bible in which people succumb to erotic love outside of marriage and find their lives suffering the consequences of promiscuity.
And, then there is a fourth type known as Agape (Uh-GAH-pay) love, the highest type of love found in the Bible. Divine love from God, immeasurable, incomparable love for humankind; perfect, unconditional, sacrificial, and pure. This is the kind of love that Jesus Christ demonstrated to his Father and all humanity. His life, death, and resurrection give us the perfect example of Agape love. We strive to be examples of this type of unconditional, generous, forgiving, eternal, compassionate love. But, as hard as we try, being human, we fall short. Still, our goal is to learn to love the way Jesus did.
So, how does this relate to Tae Kwon Do?
We have all felt the four types of love described above throughout our lives. When you considered joining a program of martial arts, were you thinking about love? Probably not. You were looking forward to physical self-defense training that would allow you to defend yourself from potential physical threats you might encounter. You may have been thinking about the physical health benefits of your practice. You may have also looked at various types of martial arts systems to make your final decision as to which one would be the best fit for your schedule, lifestyle, or goals. Somehow, you landed in Shin’s Martial Arts Institute of Tae Kwon Do, and you became one of my students. The moment you made this life decision, you actually joined an effort to learn more about love.
How do we connect Tae Kwon Do and love?
When you begin your practice, you are taken under the wings of the Black Belts in the school. With one-on-one attention from the beginning, you are gently guided through the various aspects of training in the physical “Tae Kwon” part of instruction. As you develop your physical skills, you begin to form an idea of what the “Do” part is. For some, both adult and child, the “Do” comes quickly, but for many it is a slow process. Through class instruction and belt testing, you developing an idea of how much more you have to learn. You develop patience with yourself even though you often feel that you fall short of what your goal may be. Over time, perhaps a year or more, you start to understand that while you first came to learn the “Tae Kwon” you find that the “Do” is becoming more a part of your life. So, what is this elusive “Do”? You hear me explain about the “Do” and “The Way”. Your thoughts turn to how you can put this training into your daily life. You hear about the “spirit” of Tae Kwon Do and how it can raise your consciousness to a new level. And then, you learn about the way that you can become the type of person who understands love and, by your example, can teach it to others. Yes, we are a family in Tae Kwon Do, but we are even
more than that. I want all of my students to experience “Agape” love and become examples to the world of that love. We all share the same Father. The one who has taught us about what true love means in John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.