Historically or traditionally Christian martial arts

Hawke

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Raul Ries
http://www.sansoodiamondbar.com/raul.php

Pastor Ries used to give Bible lessons after the workouts for people that may be interested in Christianity.

Chuck Norris
http://www.chucknorris.com/html/christian.aspx

Mr. Norris gives his testimony for the Martial Arts for Christ event in Southern California.

Both these men use their skills to promote their faith.

I can see certain religions linked with certain martial art styles, but I do not link Christianity with any of the mainstream arts.

I think anyone regardless of their religion can be kind, compassionate, generous and understanding.
 

Carol

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I don't think its a fair comparison, really. This is an area where the traditional west and traditional east have a deep divide. In the East, religion defines so much more than where you go on the Sabbath, how you pray, what holidays you celebrate, or which house of worship you attend.

In Asian countries, religion affects speech, culture, dress, food, even what games kids play when growing up. In the west we have time-of-day greetings (Good morning, good evening, good night) but in the East, interaction is based on what religion you are or what religion the other person is. A Sikh would greet another person with "Sat Sree Akaal" A Hindu would return the sentiment with "Namaste". A person's rights under the Indian constitution are determined by which religion they are. We don't traditionally have spiritual influences to that level in the western world.

Eastern cultures are not taught in detail in the U.S. schools, and I think some of the concern (that is often voiced by Christians) comes from a desire to see clean dividing lines between spiritual and secular practice but those dividing lines simply aren't there. To blur the line even further, some practices that have been added to the martial arts do have some religious meaning. Or, they once had religious meaning but are seen more as a common social practice. Examples off the top of my head are Chinese traditions of bowing to one's ancestors or paying respects to a Kamidama or other shrine.

Asia often had a firmly set vertical caste/class system. One would often go about their day predominantly in contact with other people of one's own caste, and this brought rise to social cultures that often intermingle with religion. We haven't seen that to the same degree in the west. Even in areas where class distinctions were present (peerage, for example) the distinctions were not as strong as those seen in Asia. :asian:
 

mwd0818

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[/B]

Oh really? have a look at Masada, Zealots, Maccabees, the Warsaw Ghetto fighters Haganah, Shin Bet, me when very annoyed. We can fight you know!Holding a country has nothing to do with doing a martial art, if it were Okinawa wouldn't be known for much.

Okinawan martial arts are also worthless and ineffective, as well as Korean. The only martial arts to be completely respected are those from China then! While there have been a multitude of changes in dynastic leadership, have generally maintained some national consistency over the last two thousand years.

If you don't study Shaolin, you are wasting your time.

Like me for example, I study Shaolin Kempo . . . which clearly comes from . . . .

oh . . .

wait . . .

Kempo = Hawaii = Okinawa

There's Shaolin Kung-fu in it though, right?

No?

Um . . .

Well, my art is the exception. The rest are worthless . . . :D
 

blindsage

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I've been curious about and reading up on Systema and, apparently, it's philosophy is very tied into the Russian Orthodox Church:

As the roots of the Russian Systema are in the Russian Orthodox Christian faith, the belief is that everything that happens to us, good or bad, has only one ultimate purpose. That is to create the best possible conditions for each person to understand himself. Proper training in the Russian Systema carries the same objective – to put every participant into the best possible setting for him to realize as much about himself as he is able to handle at any given moment.
from http://www.russianmartialart.com/main.php?page=philosophy
 

Joab

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I don 't think there are any Christian martial arts. In fact, Christians didn't serve in the military for the first three centuries of Christianity, pacifists would say because they were pacifists, non pacifists would say because they would have had to acknowledge Caesar as Lord, something no Christian can do. Really, Christianity focuses more on spiritual warfare than physical, in the first century that is quite evident. Of course the Church changed a lot after Constantine became a Christian and than Christianity became the state religion of Rome later on, but during the first three centuries you really won't find any martial tradition in Christianity. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm" New International Version.
 

girlbug2

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Hmmm, maybe medival christian monks developed a staff fighting system, like Friar Tuck in Robin Hood? :D
 

Bill Mattocks

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Early Western society was Christian. Therefore, religious did not have to defend their monasteries militarily from the depredations of the Crown on an ongoing basis (not to day it did not happen, it just wasn't the norm).

Early Eastern society was not Buddhist. The Chinese Buddhist religious did indeed have to defend their monasteries militarily from the depredations of the Warlord-du-jour quite often.

In other words, in the West, Christianity was part of the power structure. In the East, Buddhism was not.

In addition, if my poor understanding of CMA history is correct, the first use of 'kung fu' was intended as exercise for monks who were unhealthy due to lack of physical activity and self-defense grew from that. We do not have that tradition in the West.

FYI, there were many chivalric christian (Catholic) orders in ancient times. The Templars were the first and most famous, but the Order of St. John (Hospitalers, now known as the Knights of Malta), and the Teutonic Knights were some of them. The UK has several still in existance. However, as they were primarily miltary in nature, their skills are those of the military, not home-grown as far as I know.
 

Knives

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Interesting article here. This article uses biblical verses to dissuade Christians from martial arts since there is a conflict in philosophy. That said, can we gather that it's pretty much saying no martial arts exist/existed with Christianity at its core? Unless it's being in particular to Karate.
 
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Daniel Sullivan

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Interesting article here. This article uses biblical verses to dissuade Christians from martial arts since there is a conflict in philosophy.
I have seen many such articles and I generally find the authors ignorant. For one, martial arts is such a general term that it would include things such as western sport fencing, something that no Christian would have any problem with on a philosophical level. Not to mention that some of the prominent Biblical personages were well versed in the "martial" arts of their day, David being a prime example.

Second, most dojos, at least in the states, teach a physical class. People go to martial arts class to get into shape and to learn to defend themselves. They generally do not get their spirituality at the dojo.

Lastly, I always find it weird that there is this general assumption that Christians are simply going to jump ship at the first opportunity if they go anywhere near anything that is not specifically Christian in origin.

That said, can we gather that it's pretty much saying no martial arts exist/existed with Christianity at its core?
Western martial traditions certainly included a great deal of Christian thought at one point, as Christianity was part of the power structure, as Bill pointed out.

I had rather thought that perhaps somebody had come up with a modern (less than 100 years old) martial system as a response to 'Zen Buddhism' rooted arts (Zen Buddhism in particular seems to be a major concern) that was not specifically karate, aikido, or anything else, but it seems that Christian martial arts all coopt existing martial arts and replace the spiritual aspect (if any) with Christianity.

Unless it's being in particular to Karate.
Generally, such articles have Asian martial arts in mind, be it karate, aikido, or any of the styles of kung fu. For the most part, such authors perceive anything that involves a gi and/or hanga/kanji or hangul being 'karate' though given that such individuals are part of the 'general public', that is hardly surprising.

Daniel
 

Carol

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I had rather thought that perhaps somebody had come up with a modern (less than 100 years old) martial system as a response to 'Zen Buddhism' rooted arts (Zen Buddhism in particular seems to be a major concern) that was not specifically karate, aikido, or anything else, but it seems that Christian martial arts all coopt existing martial arts and replace the spiritual aspect (if any) with Christianity.

The most significant martial art from the 20th century Western/Christian world is riflery and other forms of firearms marksmanship. Rather than that being a Christian martial art, it was an art dominated people that happened to be Christian or from a Christian heritage, but use of them has not been limited to people that are Christian.
 

Xue Sheng

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II had rather thought that perhaps somebody had come up with a modern (less than 100 years old) martial system as a response to 'Zen Buddhism' rooted arts (Zen Buddhism in particular seems to be a major concern) that was not specifically karate, aikido, or anything else, but it seems that Christian martial arts all coopt existing martial arts and replace the spiritual aspect (if any) with Christianity.

Somebody has come up with a modern (less than 100 years old) martial system, not necessarily in response to 'Zen Buddhism' rooted arts (some are rooted in Taoism and Shinto by the way) but it is not Christian either. It atheistic and called Sanda (Sanshou) Modern CMA originally for the Chinese military under Mao and most certainly having no religious affiliation

Generally, such articles have Asian martial arts in mind, be it karate, aikido, or any of the styles of kung fu. For the most part, such authors perceive anything that involves a gi and/or hanga/kanji or hangul being 'karate' though given that such individuals are part of the 'general public', that is hardly surprising.

Daniel

Another problem with such articles is the term "Spirit" Generally it has nothing to do with spirituality in East Asia but continually gets associated with it in the west due to a rather large lack of understanding of the language and culture
 
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Daniel Sullivan

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Another problem with such articles is the term "Spirit" Generally it has nothing to do with spirituality in East Asia but continually gets associated with it in the west due to a rather large lack of understanding of the language and culture
Yes, and this underscores my opinion that authors of such articles are generally ignorant regarding the martial arts.

Daniel
 

Carol

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Yes, and this underscores my opinion that authors of such articles are generally ignorant regarding the martial arts.

Daniel

And unfortunately many are ignorant of other cultures in general.

The Gospel according to St. John begins with a quote that many Christians know well. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (KJV I think...)

If I am recalling correctly most Chinese Protestant churches use a translation called the Union Version, that was done in the early 1900s.

If one looks at the Union Version of same verse in the St. John, the verse reads "In the beginning was the Tao And the Tao was with God and the Tao was God. Tao was with God in the beginning."

Not quite so foreign in that context...
 

Errant108

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Despite popular opinion, the Asian martial arts are nowhere near as intertwined with Eastern religions as many Westerners (and some Asians) would like to believe.

For some reason, we are attracted to the idea of a spiritual warrior, a Jedi. I'm no exception to this, as I write this post from my office in a Buddhist temple outside Baltimore, Maryland.

It is easy for Westerners to pick out the "religious" influences in foreign arts because they are precisely that. Foreign. In reality, of the top of my head, I can count on one hand the Asian martial arts that are INHERENTLY tied with religious practice.

"But what about religious rituals that practitioners engage in?"

You mean boxers crossing themselves before they get in the ring?

"But what about all the Confucian class structure & bowing?"

My German-American father taught me to shake hands, take off my hat in doors, and address people as sir or ma'am. My momma taught me to hold doors for ladies.

Research where those traditions come from, and get back to me on cultural influences on behavior.

"But what about the martial arts that developed out of Zen/Daoist/etc philosophy?"

I learned how to do a crucifix in high school wrestling.

At a Catholic Youth Organization.

In the church gymnasium.

In short, people often grasp on to external BS associated with the arts, and miss the entire point of training in combative disciplines. That results in delusion and stagnant thinking. They turn their art into a cult.

Oh, and Bodhidharma didn't invent anything as far as kung fu is concerned.
 

blackxpress

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Let me begin by pointing out that I am a Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister. Most people would consider me quite liberal so my theological understanding is radically different than the neo-evangelical tradition that drives the impulse to "Christianize" things like martial arts. Being a pluralist and a progressive myself I'm always very suspicious of dojos that bill themselves as "Christian" dojos. I don't care much for fundamentalism and go to the dojo to train, not to be indoctrinated into fundamentalist pseudo-theology.

For that matter, I'm not real crazy about things like the Christian Yellow Pages and the whole idea that Christians should only patronize "Christian" businesses. I recently went to a new eye doctor. Unbeknownst to me, he is listed in "The Christian Blue Pages." When he found out I'm a minister he asked me if I chose him because he's a Christian. I said, "No, I chose you because you're on my insurance company's preferred providers list."

As for martial arts, most Church historians will tell you that the earliest Christians were pacifists. It was not until Constantine's Edict of Milan in 313 CE that Christians began to abandon the ideals of pacifism. There is no traditionally Christian martial art that I am aware of unless you consider soldiering a martial art. I myself have strong pacifist tendencies, which leads to the obvious question. What the hell is a pacifist like me doing training in a karate dojo?

A good question for which I don't have a ready answer. I've been married to a Korean woman for 30 yrs and have always had a healthy interest in all things eastern. So here I am, married to a Korean and studying a Japanese art. Go figure.

I started out in Wado Ryu. One of the things that drew me to Wado was Ohtsuka Sensei's philosophy vis a vis martial arts as a way of peace. It's hard to explain but I'm a lot more peaceful today than I ever was before I started training. I did not take up karate so that I could learn how to beat people up. I told my first Sensei I wanted to train to improve me physical fitness and mental focus and I am more physically and mentally fit today than I ever was before. Still, I guess I am a bit conflicted. I'm not sure Jesus would approve. Somehow I can't picture Him taking somebody out with a mawashi geri but what can I say? I love karate.

These days I train in Shito-ryu (long story). We're a little more fight oriented than the Wado school where I used to train but I still think there's an element of peacefulness in our training. I'm not sure you can ever fully separate karate from its Taoist and Buddhist underpinnings and I'm O.K. with that. I'm not averse to practicing a little Zen myself and I don't see any real conflict between that and my Christian faith.

Bottom line: I don't go to the dojo to worship or to have a Bible study. I go there to train. I spend enough time in church without having to Christianize my martial arts training. We begin each class in the traditional way, sitting Zazen and meditating, not praying a Christian prayer in Jesus' name. I'm O.K. with that too. I feel very peaceful and close to God as I meditate in Zazen. I don't see anything wrong with that. And, if I'm not mistaken, Ohtsuka Sensei believed that running kata was an intensely spiritual exercise. Some of the more knowledgeable Wado guys can correct me if I'm wrong but I think Ohtsuka Sensei believed kata to be a form of meditation whereby one could move closer to Buddha mind. I'm O.K. with that too and, frankly, don't think Jesus would have a problem with it either.

Christian martial arts? No, thanks. Shito-ryu suits me just fine.
 

gardawamtu1

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I don't care much for fundamentalism and go to the dojo to train, not to be indoctrinated into fundamentalist pseudo-theology.

I spend enough time in church without having to Christianize my martial arts training.

Christian martial arts? No, thanks. Shito-ryu suits me just fine.

My sentiments exactly. I'm a seminary prof and ordained Baptist minister (not all of us are fundamentalist or neo-cons). I lean towards pacifism, though I cannot say that I am purely pacifist.

I have heard of some churches hosting karate classes as part of their outreach. I am actually disturbed by someone who has no conflict about learning techniques that could potentially maim or kill with some of Christ's teachings on peace. While I wrestle with this question, I do compartmentalize to an extent because the MA are the only thing that holds my interest when it comes to exercising.
 

Errant108

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I'm not sure you can ever fully separate karate from its Taoist and Buddhist underpinnings and I'm O.K. with that.

There are no Daoist or Buddhist underpinnings to karate. No more than there are Catholic underpinings to Western boxing. Even Itosu is on record as saying that karate practice does not derive from Confucianism, Daoism, or Buddhism.

What happens is that later on, people begin to bring their own personal views to martial arts practice. A practitioner of Zen will certainly see the chance to use kata practice as a form of meditation.

Guess what?

Making tea, driving, even taking a dump can be seen as a form of meditation in Zen. There is nothing unique about karate kata that makes it especially more Zen Buddhist than any other activity engaged in by human beings.

The martial arts are an integral part of the spiritual practice at my temple, along with sitting meditation, tea ceremony, etc. It might shock you to know that there's a temple in Korea that practices soccer as a part of their spiritual practice, just like in "Shaolin Soccer". Does this mean that soccer has Buddhist underpinings?

There is a difference between inherency and attribution.

If I punch you in the face, was it a Buddhist punch?

Hmmm...Zen teacher vs. Christian minister grudge match? We could do it as a fundraisher;p

I'm absolutely fine with a Christian using karate or most other styles of martial arts to teach their religion, just as I'm fine with organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes using any other sport to do so.

What I'm not fine with is doing it out of ignorance, and truthfully, racial hatred. "We need to remove those heathen influences from those pagan Asians, but we sure do like their krotty!"

Irony: The Korean Methodist church down the road has a Taekwondo program. They don't seem to see the "pagan" influences in their own culture.
 

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