I started training in Tang So Do in southern New Jersey shortly after GM J.C. Shin started the World Tang Soo Do Association and the forth point of the code was "no retreat (in battle).
At some point in time this was changed to "Always finish what you start."
Do you know why it was changed? I suspect there was a legal concern but don't have any "evidence."
Thank you for your question. Forgive my tardy reply. My Mom went into Hospice and passed. Your question is a super question and deserves a thoughtful answer.
You got your start from a very fine and esteemed martial artist. Great man and I was so sorry to hear of his recent passing.
My Grand Master was a contemporary, Grand Master Jae Joon Kim.
You question has been the subject of much discussion and much interpretation.
I was trained under the Never retreat in battle mantra as well.
The phrase "Always finish what you start." had a different connotation. Always finish what you start did not refer to battle but referred to an attribute of a Black Belt to finish projects or whatever one started in life, such as a degree, marriage or some other worthy goal. To me it means do not lead a "bumper car" way of life. Like the fairground bumper cars they come into contact with a pole or other car and then bump off and go into a different direction. Many people will start school or even martial art training and then find it a bit to hard, fail to stick it out when they 'bump' in another direction until they find the new direction has obstacles and they bump once again into a new direction and every accomplishing what they set out to do.
In battle, we teach ourselves to train to the point where we don't have to retreat in battle. It is not necessarily not retreating in the actual battle but never retreating in our knowledge and training in the art to the point of battle. Once engaged in battle, we never retreat until we accomplish our goal of self-defending against the attacker. We do not attack unless an attack in imminent. Our training is geared towards self-defense and learning to counter any attack at which point we have trained to take advantage of an attack and strike the counter and the trained and precise time often using the attacker's leverage and off balance to effect the counter attack.
Never retreating has other advantages as well. It is a mind set of many factors and one of which is determination and commitment to the attack.
I could actually go on with your great questions but I'm supposed to give succinct answers and I hope I haven't gone overboard. Great question for sure and I can see that you are a Thinker!.
Master Sam Frazier 7th DAN.