The term “loyalty” is defined as faithfulness to an allegiance, faithfulness to an adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, or other form of authority or ideal. It plays a big part in what holds people, and their organizations, whatever form those organizations might take, together. To expect loyalty from someone — but ultimately leaving that someone to fulfill that loyalty without constant prompting — is to affirm one’s trust in them. So it follows that one must have an understanding of what that trust implies, in order to be able to fulfill it.
In Tang Soo Do, a basic outline of what it is that that trust implies can be found in the first three Student Creeds. The first three Student Creeds can be summed up thus: “I intend to develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that would impair my mental growth or physical health; to develop self discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others; and to use the skills I learn in class constructively and defensively, to help myself and my fellow man, and never be abusive or defensive.” This is further elaborated on in the rules, tenets, key concepts, and codes, those tenets, codes, and key concepts being: loyalty to country, [respect and] obedience to parents [/guardians, and to other persons of authority] alongside of which one can place humility, honoring friendship (also worded as “best” friendship), no retreat in battle (that is, indomitable spirit/courage), and in fighting, choose with sense and honor (summed up as self-control, especially control of power, of speed, of willed tension and relaxation, and also justice), coupled with integrity/honesty, concentration, and perseverance that results in endurance. Loyalty to country is exemplefied by rule 3; rules 1 through 11, 15, and 17 through 22 deal with respect and obedience; rules 17, 22, and 23 address the matter of honoring friendship; rule 23 states that one must not lose self-control; and rules 5 through 7, 18, and 24 appeal to one’s integrity. From all this, we can come to an understanding of what is expected, both of what the instructor will come to expect from the student, and what the student can expect of the instructor.
One of the purposes of Tang Soo Do being a goal to better oneself overall, the instructor comes to trust that the student is upholding the creeds outside of the school, as well as within. That the second purpose (Health) of Tang Soo Do claims to be dealing with the spiritual as well as the physical suggests to the student that they can hope to be a better person in all areas of their life, not simply within the Do Jang, and the student does this by applying those codes, tenets, and concepts to all that they do. To highlight a few things, integrity being defined as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty,” outside of the school, that would be referring to how the student responds to issues such as drugs, purity, moral standings in politics, even. The third creed, when upheld, guards against the student becoming a bully, as the student is promising not to abuse the skills that the instructor passes on. Choosing with sense an honor in fighting, along with no retreat in battle, does not have to be restricted to merely physical battles; it can also apply to the spiritual battles that the student encounters in their Faith journey. So we see that the student can hope to benefit by what they learn within the Do Jang, by applying the principles of what they learn to all aspects of their life without.
Loyalty goes both ways. The student entrusts part of their life journey to their instructor by becoming an active member of the school. The student trusts that the instructor is upholding the same values that they are being taught to live by; the instructor (along with the student’s parents/guardians), come to be (if they are not already), if you will, on a pedestal. And because those parents/guardians/instructors are people that the student interacts with on a daily basis — as opposed to celebrities or other role models that the student can only admire from a distance – the student will definitely (and rightly) [come to] put more store by what they see and hear on a daily basis from those ‘real’ people in their lives. The base of all loyalty being honesty, it follows that to be loyal does not mean to follow blindly. It does not mean to sugar-coat. One ought to evaluate all standings of the organization that one intends to cleave to, and how those who have already chosen to adhere to it exemplify those standings. Furthermore, loyalty has to be something internal as much as it is external. It ought to be internal, else any external loyalty would simply be a lie.
So we see what loyalty entails. It ties everyone at Tang Soo together. We either uphold or undermine each other in everything that we do, while claiming to be a member. Even more so because we speak of ourselves as a family. There are disputes, disagreements, just as in any normal family. But that is why loyalty is so important. We need to cling to the loyalty when times get rough. We need to know that, despite any conflict, we will never sacrifice our honor; we will always do our best to work through the conflict. Either we will find a solution that does not compromise our values, or we will continue to have different opinions, but we will still stand together. I guess that’s what loyalty really is. That no matter how much you disagree with someone, or dislike them at any particular moment, there is no backstabbing. That you honor the fact that you expect loyalty from them and they expect loyalty from you, and you trust that they will fulfill their end, and so you’ve got to keep up yours. Loyalty is sometimes difficult. Loyalty is sometimes painful. But that’s why its base is trust, made possible by honesty. It is what enables life to continue bearably, knowing that you’ll always have someone or something to hold on to, that will hold you up, differences aside.