martial arts and religious things

drummingman

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are there any martial arts that do not have some sort of religious content in them? i was asking about the name of a kenpo move called bowing to buddah in another thread and someone asked me why i was looking into studying an asian martial art if i was concerned with religious aspects in the martial arts.so this is why im asking these questions.
i have looked into krav maga in my area and checked out a cless that seemed to be more fitness then real self defense.there did ont seem to be much real instruction in the class at all.thats why i started looking elsewhere for self defense.
are there other styles besides krav mage that don't have the religious things in them that are good for self defense?
also,i live in virginia near DC so if anyone knows of something in va that fits what im looking for could you please let me know.
thanks.
 

charyuop

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Why worrying so much about the relationship between MA and religion? I don't think in MA schools they ask you to pray or convert to that religion. If you are curious you might look into it on your own, but I don't see why lose interest in a MA just because it might be related to some kind of religion.
 

SFC JeffJ

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Execpt for a few styles, the religious aspect is only what you want it to be. A lot of it will also depend on the instructor as well. I'd say if you find something good, even if it has a religious aspect to it, study it and ignore the religious or spiritual aspects of it. I'm sure others will disagree, but that's my outlook on it.

Jeff
 

Bigshadow

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are there any martial arts that do not have some sort of religious content in them? i was asking about the name of a kenpo move called bowing to buddah in another thread

IMHO, just because it has some techniques named in such a fashion does not make it a religion. For instance, there are airplanes and cars named after american indians and things of their culture and history, but that doesn't make them american indian. It is just a name. This is just my opinion.

I would also like to point out... I don't think that buddhism is a religion, it is a philosophy. It is just that the followers made things ceremonial and eventually made a religion from it. However, someone might be able to either confirm this or correct it. This is based on some reading I have done.
 

Monadnock

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are there any martial arts that do not have some sort of religious content in them?

I don't think so. Almost any martial art will have some sort of symbolism in it, whether beknownst to the practitioner or not. Might want to look into some FMA though.


The Parker Kenpo system was developed by a Christian (Mormon?) but I do not think the Bowing to Buddha technique was an original technique, but rather taked from Form 4 and given a name. I don't know by who though. But it was not a technique from the original 32 system.


An example of something unbeknownst, is the Kenpo fist and open hand salute. Do some research on the origins of Chuan Fa and how it relates to Buddhism and you will find the same hand mudras.


If you are trying to stear clear of any religious conflict, try and find a pure Self Defense school, rather than a martial art school.
 

exile

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Ditto to everything that charyoup, Jeff and bigshadow have said (and yes, my impression also is that Buddhism is not a religion, more like a view of the best way to live one's life in a happy (or at least minimally painful!) way). So far as I can see, there is nothing in Asian MAs that has any more `spiritual content' than downhill skiing has. So for example, meditation (which is not a religion-particular practice but a kind of mental exercise involving clearing the mind of distractions and disrupting thoughts) benefits both the MAist and the ski racer, because it enhances their ability to react instantaneously to changes in the enviroments. There is no aspect of Shinto doctrine, or the animism that is typical of a lot of Asian folk religion, or any other thing you could actually call a `religious belief', that I'm familiar with in any MA, Asian or not.

Look at it this way: there are plenty of Christian karateka and dojos. There are Jewish, Islamic and Rastafarian karateka as well. Same for TKD and kenpo. And if you watch a Christian, Jewish or Rasta karateka spar or perform kata, you'll have no clue (on that basis, anyway) which of them adheres to which religion, and same with the other MAs. You'll only find religious content in these arts if you mentally insert it there yourself, in advance. My suggestion is, don't worry about it---you're fretting needlessly,
I think! Just my $.02 worth...
 

SFC JeffJ

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i have looked into krav maga in my area and checked out a cless that seemed to be more fitness then real self defense.there did ont seem to be much real instruction in the class at all.thats why i started looking elsewhere for self defense.

This is going to be a little off topic, but Krav Maga is a great self defense style. They realize, and don't pull punches about, that fitness is very important to self defense. Some of their classes will be almost totally involved in fitness. Talk to the instructor about it.

Jeff
 

Grenadier

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Unless a school specifically states that it is a religious one, then you're free to accept, or reject, whatever beliefs you may be given about that particular school. It pretty much comes down to how you interpret things.

We teach traditional Japanese Karate at our school. One time, I had one parent who was, initially, uncomfortable with the fact that her child had to bow to others, both standing position, and in seiza position. She was deeply religious, and her church specifically stated, that one should only bow down to God himself.

I simply explained to her, that bowing towards each other was nothing more than a sign of respect for your fellow students and teachers, and that this was actually quite commonly used in many Asian countries, without containing any signs of religious content. While such customs might have had a religious content a long time ago, the context in which we use it carries no religious meaning. Nobody is worshipping another person in there.

She was quite satisfied with that explanation, and seems quite comfortable now.
 

exile

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She was deeply religious, and her church specifically stated, that one should only bow down to God himself.

I simply explained to her, that bowing towards each other was nothing more than a sign of respect for your fellow students and teachers, and that this was actually quite commonly used in many Asian countries, without containing any signs of religious content. While such customs might have had a religious content a long time ago, the context in which we use it carries no religious meaning. Nobody is worshipping another person in there.

She was quite satisfied with that explanation, and seems quite comfortable now.

This is very interesting---there's a useful distinction that she seemed to have been overlooking at first, between just bowing, on the one hand, and `bowing down', which is a kind of act of submission and has lots of implications about belief that the simple act of bowing doesn't. In many classical dances, the male partner bows to the female partner---hardly an act of worship! :wink1: Her church doctrine was probably intended specifically to forbid acts of spiritual submission to any earthly entity. But that would hardly rule out a simple conventional gesture of courtesy. It reflects well on her that she understood your point and was able to separate the two ideas in the end.
 

ArmorOfGod

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Why worrying so much about the relationship between MA and religion? I don't think in MA schools they ask you to pray or convert to that religion. If you are curious you might look into it on your own, but I don't see why lose interest in a MA just because it might be related to some kind of religion.

I agree with Charyoup.

AoG
 

Xue Sheng

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Why worrying so much about the relationship between MA and religion? I don't think in MA schools they ask you to pray or convert to that religion. If you are curious you might look into it on your own, but I don't see why lose interest in a MA just because it might be related to some kind of religion.

Agreed

Most if not all Traditional Martial Arts are dealing with the philosophical side of Eastern religions, not the religious side, if they deal with them at all. And bowing in the class is a sign of respect to the teacher, other members of the class, the founder, etc. It is not religious.

Example; Tai Chi, Xingyi, Bagua have there roots in Taoism, but the practitioners of these styles do not practice Taoist rituals nor do they try and convert you to Taoism nor is it even discussed for the most part. Other CMA styles have their roots in Buddhism and they do not practice Buddhism nor do they try and convert you. Japanese styles are much the same way. You are looking at Eastern Martial Arts as a Westerner. In the west we separate everything. There is not nearly as much delineation in the east as in the west.

I do not practice Kenpo but I suspect that the kenpo move called bowing to Buddha posture is similar to this form in Chen style called Buddhas attendant pounds mortar. It is not a religious thing it is just a name that describes the move as the Chen family saw it based on the culture they came from.

But if you are that uncomfortable with this type of naming try BJJ, MMA, or possibly Sanshou, but again sanshou is from china so they may use some descriptive names that use the word Buddha. And in most cases in Eastern Martial Arts it is just that is all it is, a word.
 

Rook

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While many martial arts were once linked in some manner to a religious view, that is a minor part of them today.

If it really bothers someone that much they could consider boxing, kickboxing, western wrestling in all forms, Jeet Kune Do, any of the Korean arts, any Japanese karate system, BJJ, SAMBO, Yiquan, European ax, knife or quarterstaff fighting and fencing. None of these ever had a religious component.

BTW bowing in Eastern cultures is often compared to shaking hands in the west. I find this a useful comparison.
 

pstarr

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Yes, bowing used to be fairly common even in Europe and America not too awfully long ago. It's simple a sign of courtesy and has nothing to do with submission to any religious beliefs.

I once had a young man enroll for classes but when we lined up, he wouldn't bow. He said that it violated his religious beliefs. I told him that if he couldn't find it in himself to be polite and respectful, he needed to find another school-
 
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drummingman

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thank you all for your advice and thoughts.
i know this may seem like a small thing but because of how important my faith is to me thats why i asked the question.
i know that the move bowing to buddah is just a move but i just would not want to have a problem in my spirit while doing the move.it's has to do with what grenadier said about bowing to no one but god.i know that i would not being bowing to buddah by doing the move though.
monadnoc,what constitutes a pure defense school? do you mean like krav maga? what are the names of pure self defense styles so i can look into them? thanks.
 

Carol

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thank you all for your advice and thoughts.
i know this may seem like a small thing but because of how important my faith is to me thats why i asked the question.
i know that the move bowing to buddah is just a move but i just would not want to have a problem in my spirit while doing the move.it's has to do with what grenadier said about bowing to no one but god.i know that i would not being bowing to buddah by doing the move though.
monadnoc,what constitutes a pure defense school? do you mean like krav maga? what are the names of pure self defense styles so i can look into them? thanks.

Drummingman, I don't think anyone would tell you to go against your spirit. Only you can say what you are comfortable with. "Bowing to Buddha" isn't really a move. It's the strikes and blocks that are the move. "Bowing to Buddha" is a reference to a body position.

I don't mean to get coarse by drawing a reference to sex...nor do I hope anything that is said here will get this thread thrown in to After Dark but...another example might be the "missionary position" of sexual intercourse. One does not have to be a missionary, or even a Christian, to be in the missionary position.

Likewise, being in the missionary position absolutely does not make a person a missionary or a Christian.

"Bowing to Buddha" is a Parker Kenpo technique that isn't taught until advanced brown or first black. Should you choose Kenpo, it will be years until you are taught the technique...more than enough time for you to really tell if Kenpo is for you or not.

Ultimately it comes down to what is right for you...and only you can determine that. :)
 

Cirdan

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Many moves have names that were meant to help remember them, not describe exactly what the practicioner is doing. For instance, a friend of mine practiced one called "kill the child" a lot. No, he is not a murderer as far as I know. :angel:

On the other hand, some styles do have greetings with a religious context. Katori Shinto Ryu is one. However people new to the art is usually taught to do a normal bow instead (showing respect to the Dojo) and this is about as far as the religious side of the art goes unless you seek it out yourself.
 

MJS

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are there any martial arts that do not have some sort of religious content in them? i was asking about the name of a kenpo move called bowing to buddah in another thread and someone asked me why i was looking into studying an asian martial art if i was concerned with religious aspects in the martial arts.so this is why im asking these questions.
i have looked into krav maga in my area and checked out a cless that seemed to be more fitness then real self defense.there did ont seem to be much real instruction in the class at all.thats why i started looking elsewhere for self defense.
are there other styles besides krav mage that don't have the religious things in them that are good for self defense?
also,i live in virginia near DC so if anyone knows of something in va that fits what im looking for could you please let me know.
thanks.

Many of the techniques in the Parker and Tracy system have names to them, referring to certain things that are happening and being done in the tech. It does not mean that we're worshipping anything, as in the tech. you mention.

IMO, I feel that the arts and religion should be two seperate things. I'm there to train, not worship something, be steered towards another religion, etc. I don't look at meditation as worship, but instead, using that to clear my mind after the long day, and start to focus on the task at hand.

As for Krav Maga. If you look at this link:
http://www.kravmaga.com/programs.asp

you should see that there are a number of different programs offered. There is a good chance that the class you went to was more geared towards the fitness aspect. This is not to say that a regular class won't have fitness, but that will not be the focus. If that is something you're interested in, I'd go check it out again. There is quite a bit of good info.

Mike
 

Xue Sheng

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I am not making light of your conviction and I agree with what Carol has said (even though it was course :uhyeah: ) And if you truly wish to pursue martial arts that have little or no religious connections you have been given some good suggestions here already.

But you may be missing out on some very good training because of your interpretation of a word that truly has nothing to do with your interpretation.

Chen style for instance has

Buddha's Warrior Attendant Pounds the Mortar and it has nothing to do with Buddha other than what it appeared to look like based on an old Chinese story.

White Crane Spreads its Wings does not mean youre a crane and again only has this name for its appearance

Wave Hands in Clouds just a metaphor to be honest

High Pat on Horse same here

The Chinese are big on metaphor and it appears that kenpo is as well. But form the description I read it has little to do with bowing to anyone. As I said before it is just a name that is all and better yet it is just a label.

In the East they are not as hung up on religion as we are in the west and they do not separate it as we do and they are incredibly tolerant, contrary to popular belief, of any and all religions also unlike the west.

And I know this form experience, I have never been to a Martial arts school, Chinese, Korean or Japanese that was pushing religion or trying to convert anyone. As a matter of fact my first CMA school Sifu was entirely non-religious but he still taught me Chen style and told the class the names of the postures

But only you can decide what is best for you.
 

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drummingman,

As far as I know the name of that tek was not intended to uplift buddah(sp?), but as a practicing christian I to am uncomfortable with the connotation. I choose to use "kneeling eagle". Which if memory serves me. I picked up from a chinese kenpo tek list. As I believe someone already said in her post. You have to decide where this is going for you. I am comfortable with EPAK because of the lack of eastern philosophies. I believe that it is a solid system of physical exercise. I hope this was a little helpful?
By GOD's Grace
 

TraditionalTKD

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Kenpo has unfortunate tendency to give fancy names to simple actions. What they might call "Bowing to Buddha", other arts might simply call bowing. In other words, an action might have a religious cannotation because that art attaches one to it. While another art might do the same action in a different scenario and call it simply "Technique X".
Tae Kwon Do, for example, attaches no religious meanings to any of its actions. Different forms may have philosophical interpretations, but the techniques contained within them are pretty straightforward.
Example: PyongWon is interpreted as the plain upon which we as humans live out our existance. But the techniques that comprise it are pretty straightforward.
 
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