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kchenault
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 11 Sep 2002
Posts: 1050
Location: Ottawa, KS USA
Styles: TKD, little Hap Ki Do, Target Focus Training

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 11:00 pm    Post subject: Christians and the Martial Arts Reply with quote

Some have been called war mongers, mystics, heroes and some, just plain old bad dudes. Martial artists have gone by many names throughout the centuries. Here in America, in the last say, 60 years to round it out, more and more have started to call themselves Christians.

Now some of you might be thinking, ďOh no, heís gonna talk religion.Ē And youíd be right, to a certain extent. What I hope to address through this article is the concern of some Christians that are worried that their chosen art is not compatible with their chosen Savior. Youíll notice that I use capital letters on some words here because they hold a place of reverence for me. I donít mean to offend, but it is my article after all. So, humor a guy and take it with a grain of salt.

I also canít speak for all martial arts either, as I donít know the specifics of all of them. I will focus on the style of Tae Kwon Do that I study. So without further adieu, I will give a brief outline of the questions I hope to answer.

1. What about all that hitting and kicking you do to each other? Doesnít that go against Christís teaching you to turn the other cheek?
2. Donít you people worship Buddha or something?
3. What are you doing sitting on the floor all cross-legged? Are you praying or something?
4. What about all that bowing?


So, let's get to it:

1. What about all that hitting and kicking you do to each other? Doesnít that go against Christís teaching you to turn the other cheek?

Hitting and kicking, as the question puts it, is an essential part of almost all martial arts, in some way, shape or form. Without those two elements you pretty much lose the martial aspect of the art. Utilizing punches and kicks are very important to a system of self-defense or as TKD has become, a martial sport. When Christ said to turn the other cheek (paraphrased), he didnít tell us to become human punching bags. He was simply stating that if someone needs something bad enough to attack you and steal it from you, to give it to them and let God take care of the punishment for you. Should we not defend ourselves from wanton attacks that have nothing to do with our possessions? Of course we should. People in the scriptures have always been prone to violence. King David was a man of blood, as God called him. That is why he was not permitted to build the Jewish Temple for the Lord. But, God also called him a man after His own heart. David loved God, but he lived in a time of war and he made major mistakes in his life, but God still loved him back. So does learning a form of self-defense or martial sport keep us from living, as Christ would have us to? The simple answer is no.

2. Donít you people worship Buddha or something?

Buddha is pretty cut and dried for modern TKD. In ancient times, however, Buddhism played an integral part in Koreaís history. The form that I learned for my last belt testing is called Won-Hyo. It was named after the monk that introduced Buddhism to Korea in 686 A.D. and from what I can tell, doesnít have any effect on the TKD of today. Other martial arts seem to have a more spiritual side to them. Such arts would be Aikido, Haidong Gumdo and many forms of Gung Fu. I say this in my limited knowledge of other arts and mean no offense to anyone or their chosen art. I find some of these arts to be of great interest to myself, but find myself reserved because of their spiritual ties. As for TKD, there is no overt spirituality that I can speak of. In fact, both of my master instructors are Christians.

3. What are you doing sitting on the floor all cross-legged? Are you praying or something?

Meditation can be a refreshing experience and yes, I have used it as a time to pray to my God. But the main form of meditation that I have encountered in TKD is simply letting your mind dwell on a technique or form. Running it over and over in your mind, to help you visualize it to perfection and hope beyond hope that it will enhance the performance of your physical execution of that technique or form. Meditation can be used for many things and should not be construed solely as an act of worship. Meditation is not the sole property of the new age gurus in the world.

4. What about all that bowing?

To bow, or not to bow? That is the question.

And as of late, one that has received some press. It would seem that two students of a martial art refused to bow in class due to religious conviction, which is fine, nothing wrong with that, but they probably should have realized it would bite them in the end. Their particular art made bowing in certain instances, mandatory. Bowing, as many things in the martial arts can be construed as an act of worship. On the other hand, it can also show a deep respect for the person or thing you are bowing to. Christians bow to the Lord Jesus Christ, which every good Christian should do. It is an act of worship for them. Therefore, it is acceptable to that religion.

It can, however, be used to show great respect for a person, such as anyone who holds a higher rank than you, or an object, such as a katana, for recognizing the potential beauty and destructive power it has, in the hands of an experienced swordsman. It all comes down to one thing really. Whatís in your heart? In your heart do you worship the person youíre bowing to? Does that katana or daito hold sway over your decisions in life? If so, as a Christian, you have some idolatry issues that should be dealt with. But idolatry comes in many forms. The love of money being the most common, and the one that Jesus talked about quite a bit. Anything that takes the place of Christ in the life of a Christian should be avoided. I know, easier said than done, but Christians are called to it, nonetheless. I, personally, bow simply out of respect for my instructors and for their teaching me what I have come to learn.

Christians shouldnít be afraid of learning a martial art. However, they should be very cautious about what form of martial art they learn. In the humble opinion of this writer, they should shy away from any art that has overt religious elements incorporated into it. The choice, however, is one that must be made with prayer and supplication to the Lord, while patiently waiting for an answer from Him on what road to take, but the road is yours to choose. Choose wisely.

Pilsung!
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Scorcho
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 12 Aug 2003
Posts: 87
Location: Dartmouth College
Styles: Uechi Ryu, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, Kickboxing

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my style, Uechi Ryu, we bow in seiza and clap in the ceremonial ending to class. The clapping is a Shinto ritual, that is supposed to call the attention of your ancestor's spirits, so that they may see what your accomplishments. It is also a sign of respect for your forefathers.

As a Christian, I have no problem participating in this ritual, precisely because that is what it is, a ritual. It does not demand faith, belief, or conviction. It does not require me to give up or compromise my faith in Christ. It is not a profession. Because of this fact alone, I have no problem participating in it; on the contrary, I think that it can be very benficial. I can take the meaning, honor to forefathers and to elders/teachers/sensei, without the Shinto undertones. There is nothing wrong with Buddhist meditation, even for a Christian, as the large number of Christian spiritual leaders who study eastern style meditation and mysticism to become closer to their God, Jesus, attests. Remember, there is not only one "proper" way to pray or show respect to God. It is your intent that matters.

Besides, to truely understand MA, you have to understand to culture and ritual within which it obtains meaning. Karate is an "art," and, just as with a painting, to understand it, one must know its historical/philosophical/cultural background. These different patterns of thought will help you with your MA training, and may even help you with you spirituality as a Christian. At least they do for me.
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gheinisch
KF VIP

Joined: 09 Jan 2003
Posts: 2140
Location: Newnan, Georgia
Styles: Hon-Shin-Do - Shodan

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice Article!

In my school, The U.S. Christian Academy of the Martial Arts we are all christians and believe God comes before all else, but we also believe as Scorcho has said that you must have an understanding of the Art.

Our Ministry and the Martial Arts
OUR MISSION:
To incorporate the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with the Martial Arts which will help build self confidence, and self discipline.
In doing this we will become:
-Guardian Angels for those who are weak and need defending.
-Disciples to spread the word of our Lord and Savior.

[u]The U.S. Christian Academy of the Martial Arts [/u]

The Martial Arts as we know them today have been around for hundreds of years. The Bible and the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ have been around for thousands of years.

We must first look to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ for inner strengths as well as inner peace. Then to the Martial Arts for our outer strength. God first, then Martial Arts.

The Samurai believes that he must live life properly showing respect to every living thing. He lives a simple life. Pays all his debts regardless of what they are. Avoids all evil. Offends no one. Helps as many people as he can. Defends the weak and does what is morally right.

This lifestyle is known as Bushido or Japanese Chivalry. He firmly believes that if he lives his life by this code of honor, then at any given time he is prepared to die. He lives his life as if this were his last day on earth.

This amazes me because in studying the Bible I find that this is the way Jesus lived his life and the way he wants us to live ours.

I see nothing wrong with learning others cultures as long as one keeps God first. Hope I didn't offend!

"Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Respectfully,
Greg
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kchenault
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 11 Sep 2002
Posts: 1050
Location: Ottawa, KS USA
Styles: TKD, little Hap Ki Do, Target Focus Training

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the thoughts and kind words, both of you. My words are meant to be an encouragement and a precautionary warning.

Scorcho, not to sound inflammatory, but I would like to see a list of names of Christian leaders who have delved into eastern meditation and mysticism, if you don't mind.
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G95champ
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 29 Mar 2002
Posts: 3116
Location: Gilbert WV, USA
Styles: Shotokan Karate (FSKA)

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice article. I have faced these same issues with a few of my students in the past. I am a Christian but my personal beliefs do not enter the dojo. If a person wants to talk thats one thing but to force them into it is another.

The Bow is the same as a handshake from my point of view. We keep eye contact and don't lower our heads in Shotokan. Their is a respect their from student to teacher just like th bible teaches a respect from son to father.

Buddism IMO is very closely related to Christian beliefs. Yaeh I know they are vastly differant but these are the only 2 major faiths that preach tolerance, love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, help your fellow man, all are qualities of a good Martial Artisit IMO.

I have been asked about Meditation before and I answer it this way if you want to pray by all means pray I may cut you short but go for it. If you want to set there and think about the fly in miror fine by me, if you want to clear your mind and breath thats what we want but all are accepted. The point is you will follow the rules and getting on your knees helps us control our pride even if it for meditation. Humble yourself before training just like you humble yourself before God.

As far as the fighting goes its like this. In the Old Testemnet God was a pretty mean guy when he had to be. Just like a true Martial Artist should be. Walk away, give another chance, ignore, but at some point when your pushed to far you must cast judgement. Thy will be done.

Again I really enjoyed reading it good post.
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kchenault
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 11 Sep 2002
Posts: 1050
Location: Ottawa, KS USA
Styles: TKD, little Hap Ki Do, Target Focus Training

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks man. Much appreciated.
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monkeygirl
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Joined: 22 Feb 2002
Posts: 3677
Location: Oregon
Styles: Tae Kwon Do

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice article, Ken! I really like your writing style...sort of laid-back and easygoing.

G95champ wrote:

The Bow is the same as a handshake from my point of view. We keep eye contact and don't lower our heads in Shotokan. Their is a respect their from student to teacher just like th bible teaches a respect from son to father.


That's always been my view, too.

As far as fighting goes, I look at it like this: by "punching and hitting" others, I am learning to defend the most precious gift God has given me: my life. Who knows, someday it may save someone else's life, too.

Good job!
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kchenault
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 11 Sep 2002
Posts: 1050
Location: Ottawa, KS USA
Styles: TKD, little Hap Ki Do, Target Focus Training

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks monkeygirl. I try to write like I talk. the main point of my article is this. It's okay for Christians to be martial artists. I hope this point comes across in the article.
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btroadman
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Posts: 61
Location: Florida
Styles: TaeKwonDo, Kickboxing

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was an excellent article, as a Christian who has dealt with this problem before it is great to hear some encouragement. I prayed about it and received a peace in my heart about it. It may be different for different people. But the very bottom line is that God knows your heart, and if that is in the right place, then you will be fine. I have found that the MA Schools I attend are a wonderful place to meet people and share my faith. Isn't that what our lives here are all about?
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kchenault
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 11 Sep 2002
Posts: 1050
Location: Ottawa, KS USA
Styles: TKD, little Hap Ki Do, Target Focus Training

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amen!
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