Christianity and Martial Arts – A Taoist’s View
I found your site from a link at rec.martial-arts
I study chinese internal martial arts and I consider myself a Taoist. I train in Taoist internal alchemy and I have a teacher for this. In short I am on the road to learning chinese so that I can really call myself a Taoist.
I like your site. I often find it hilarious that Christians think they can understand a martial art without studying its spiritual practices. Japanese arts have a Zen feel, and Chinese arts may have a Taoist or Buddhist feel depending on whether they are shaolin(external) or internal.
I can say that training in Taoist religious practices has helped my ability to understand and manipulate chi for martial and spiritual purposes. This makes sense for anyone studying an internal chinese system(tai chi chuan etc.) I empathize with the Christian perspective in that I don’t think they should be involved in these systems. I’m not talking down to Christians (although I think they are wrong in terms of their religious choice) I’m just saying that for the most part they should stay out of the martial arts, especially the chinese internal arts.
For Korean systems like Tae Kwon Do religion might not be such a problem because with all due respect these systems are very superficial even for external(muscle based) arts.
It is my goal to teach in an internal system of chinese boxing on a private basis. I don’t want to make money(this won’t be my career), I just want to have a closed-door school. when I reach the point of being able to teach I want to be able to share all of my experiences with my students regarding these arts. and honestly I wouldn’t want a Christian as a student. They don’t belong in the martial arts, and if they choose to come in they should just stick to the simple stuff used for sport(korean systems).
I think it’s a good thing that christians are examining their belief systems regarding the martial arts. I’m all for intellectual honesty, and there is too much talk about all religions being “equal” or equivalent. You hear people on rec.martial-arts and elsewhere say that “martial arts teach you to be strong…the lord has no problem with that”. Well first of all the martial arts are spiritual paths for buddhists and taoists (depending on style). It doesn’t make much sense to train in these arts for 20 years unless there is some spiritual goal in mind.
What makes a religion a religion is the worldview. I have found this to be most important, even before the message of sages and prophets. The biblical worldview is antithetical to both Taoism and Buddhism, Regardless of sect(buddhist or Taoist). I say this as someone who has had extensive background in practicing these religions (not including christianity).
I think that most christians in the martial arts either misunderstand the arts or create some bizarre logic like “this stuff was originally taught by Christ”. As someone who is not and never was a Christian I find these statements hilarious. There is often a sense that buddhist or taoist spirituality expressed through the arts is a kind of “anonymous christianity”. This is ludicrous. This kind of schizophrenia is often found in the “interfaith” movement and among those who talk of “eastern philosophy”. Buddhism and Taoism aren’t philosophies. They are religions with temples and monks.
Anyway I love your site. Keep writing. what we need in todays world is a dose of common sense and intellectual honesty. people need to confront foundational issues before thinking about minutae. And I for one would tell anyone I know that is a Christian not to study the martial arts. They don’t belong in the arts.
If I hear a christian talking anxiously about their involvement(or the involvement of their children) in martial arts I will explain to them as best I can the religious backgrounds of these arts. I will tell them as a taoist and as one who has been in Buddhism that they are right to have concerns. These arts will expose their children to ideas that are not christian. let’s learn to respect and appreciate our differences. Let Christians be christians.