My Dojo Is Becoming Infected

Brandon Fisher

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Its one thing to encourage students to look to a higher power and believe in god in some way. For faith, strength and encouragement however to wear a patch as you have described I wouldn't do it. Sounds to cultish to me. Even Shoshin Nagamine who was a Zen Priest also did not include anything zen in his patch. But he did in his teachings.
 

MJS

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By the Christian virus.
Now, I am a Christian, albeit a non practicing one, and I've never had anything against the fact that my Sensei is ALSO a minister who runs his own church (which most of the people at my dojo attend.) That was, however, until he made the announcement that we would now be assigned patches that had the kanji for "Army of the Cross" or an eagle with a cross infront of it.

Now, I've never been one to complain about him making analogies to the bible during training, or anything of the like, and as said I AM a Christian and I'm sorry if this post offends anyone, but I am NOT looking for a church. I feel that these patches my sensei is commanding us to wear force me to scream that I believe in this, which I don't believe is right, because we have several people in training who are NOT Christian, who are liberals that are already alienated enough by Sensei's beliefs, but forcing them to wear a patch saying they believe in a God they may or may not believe in is, I believe, wrong.

I'll agree, Christian values can be good, and that in theory, a martial art should drive you to become a better person, but this should be the martial art itself, the discipline you get as you rise through your ranks, not by being told stories out of an old book.

I don't know how to really say this without offending anybody, so I'm sorry if I did, but I just want to know everyone's thoughts on this. Am I taking a patch too seriously? I understand that it's just a cloth, but I feel like it's the beginning of so much more, like eventually he'll say "You MUST attend the church if you plan to continue training." Please, I want to hear everyone's feedback, this is something that has been bothering me to the poitn where I've even considered leaving my dojo.

I would suggest privately discussing these issues/concerns with your teacher. Now, I don't have any issues with a religion that someone may choose to practice. However, what I don't like, is when people try to force their religion/beliefs on me. Like I said, I have no issues with respecting whatever someone wants to believe in, but I feel that to push it on someone...that isn't right.

As far as the patch goes...well, IMO, thats pushing something on someone, and that is where I'd have to draw the line. If it means leaving the school, then so be it.
 

Brian King

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Jarrod posted
“this has given me an idea...i might look up the local chapter of the church of satan & see if they are interested in starting an mma program. i mean as long as we're melding MA with religion & all”


If we are honest martial arts have always been heavily influenced by religion and politics. Today is no different than yesterday and likely will be no different than tomorrow. Take MMA for instance. The politics have demanded changes in the rules and those changes have changed the way and method that practitioners train and compete in their sport and art. We can look at Shinto’s influences of many of the Japanese martial arts, Muslim beliefs and their influences with the Persian wrestling and stick arts, Paganism and its influences over many of the African and Indonesian arts, Buddhist and Hindu thoughts and beliefs and their influences with in many of the arts of India and South East Asia. I have a hard time even thinking of a religion that has not had an affect on martial studies and those that practice them. I have a hard time thinking of an art that was not influenced by the politics of their local. It is human nature I guess.

Regards
Brian King
 

jarrod

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Jarrod posted



If we are honest martial arts have always been heavily influenced by religion and politics. Today is no different than yesterday and likely will be no different than tomorrow. Take MMA for instance. The politics have demanded changes in the rules and those changes have changed the way and method that practitioners train and compete in their sport and art. We can look at Shintos influences of many of the Japanese martial arts, Muslim beliefs and their influences with the Persian wrestling and stick arts, Paganism and its influences over many of the African and Indonesian arts, Buddhist and Hindu thoughts and beliefs and their influences with in many of the arts of India and South East Asia. I have a hard time even thinking of a religion that has not had an affect on martial studies and those that practice them. I have a hard time thinking of an art that was not influenced by the politics of their local. It is human nature I guess.

Regards
Brian King

right you are sir, but it is one thing to be influenced by & another to consiously shape a martial art or a school around a set of beliefs. also the examples you site involve indigenous martial arts being influenced by indigenous beliefs at their founding. attaching christianity to an eastern martial art seems a bit silly to me; it's kind of like if a kung fu school opened in japan & then strongly identified itself with shinto. one has little or nothing to do with the other.

i was being a smartass when i suggested a church of satan mma team, but at least the CoS's focus on ego-gratification would be in sync with competing in a high profile combat sport. :lol: learning to punch & kick people really has very little to do with christianity. i'm not saying you can't be a christian & a martial artist, but the two have very little to do with each other.

jf
 

TigerCraneGuy

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Non-practicing Christian. I USED to be a evangelist like him, even attended his church, then I started to hear his views on things, started to view the world through my own eyes and decided that the church just isn't where I want to be. The people there are hypocritical, trying to present themselves as perfect or as "best they can" around each other, then lying and cheating to everyone around them. I believe in God, but I don't go to congregations.

Thanks for providing said context, mate.

FWIW, on the MA side of things, here's my 2 cents.

1) Like most here, I concur that you should speak to your instructor about this in private. If you cannot reconcile your differences, then maybe it's time to part ways.

2) As a professing and practicing Christian, I believe that faith in the God of the Bible and the ensuing acceptance of Christ's sovereignty must be made of one's free will, or else, it is null and void, profiting absolutely no one.

3) I agree with Brian that you need to spend some 'alone' time working out the root cause of your discomfort. After all, if you are a Christian, why the avoidance of professing to be one? Not trying to be snide here; just asking a sincere question.

As for giving up on Church in general, well... just bear in mind that there are no perfect churches. Never have been; never will be. Even in the days of the Apostles, there were problems. Where there are humans interacting on a large or small scale, there always will be problems.

Again, just my 2 cents.:)

Best regards,
TCG
 

Brian King

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Jarrod posted
“right you are sir, but it is one thing to be influenced by & another to consiously shape a martial art or a school around a set of beliefs.”

That is true sir.

“learning to punch & kick people really has very little to do with christianity. i'm not saying you can't be a christian & a martial artist, but the two have very little to do with each other.”

That is certainly one opinion and a very popular one. I disagree and find very much in common between some serious martial practices and attributes and some serious Christian practices and attributes. My opinion is formed by both my experiences in various non-Eastern martial arts and serious research into my Christian faith.

“attaching christianity to an eastern martial art seems a bit silly to me”

To be honest Jarrod many of the practices of eastern martial arts seem silly to me. Those uniforms and the obsession with belts rank and lineage, all the bowing and clapping and barking of commands that some arts thrive on, the rigorous following of protocols and worship of instructors and such. It does seem a little odd to me.

I am no expert on Asian martial arts but didn’t Karate come from Okinawa? Didn’t Chinese systems travel to Okinawa? Did certain martial knowledge travel from India to China? If they did indeed travel these routes it seems natural to me that the systems once transplanted would take on the religious and political beliefs of the area, either by a merging of ideas to form new ideas and beliefs or the complete take over of beliefs and philosophies by those beliefs native to the area. I do think that people that learn martial arts will “attach” their beliefs to the system that they are learning. It is natural that people relate the lessons learned in one discipline to lessons learned in the other no matter what the discipline. I have heard and in fact read many threads here on MT of musicians relating their martial practice to their music and their music to their martial practices, dancers do the same and various sports experiences crisscross between disciplines. Many martial artists are not bothered by this cross pollination of ideas until religion comes into it and then certain religions are exempt from criticism while others are held to extreme criticism in my opinion. This is not something in my opinion to be bothered by or fought against but best just observed and understood.

I have not really given this issue much thought so I thank you Jarrod for the chance to think aloud about it.


I guess it comes down to honesty. I do not think there is much danger to somebody "attaching" or not attaching Christian faith to Easter arts as long as they are honest about what they are doing. I think that there is no danger to keeping or not keeping Eastern and other Religious beliefs found with-in those arts as long as the instructors are honest and open about it. I think that the students should be aware of what they are learning and practicing and do so willingly if they chose to do so or chose to not do so

Some like Fords and some like BMW's, it is all good I guess

Again thanks for provoking some thoughts.
Regards
Brian King

Nice post TigerCraneGuy.
Off topic*
Welcome to Martial Talk sir. I look forward to reading more of your opinions.
 
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Carol

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Personally I think the patch is overall, a good idea. I'll explain.

I do not believe that martial arts and religion absolutely must be separated. I have worked out with a couple of folks that are devout Christians, that express their faith not through scripture or biblical analogies but in the way they treat others on the mat and in the motivations they have to teach.

I have heard of others folks (ie: Karate for Christ) that have a different approach, they actively blend their training and their faith, and set everyone's expectations for what they do. I have a lot of respect for that...it manages everyone's expectations.

In this case, its the incrementalism that bothers me. I'd rather see an instructor that was clearer about their intentions from the beginning so the students can decide whether or not that is their cup of tea.
 

Brian King

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Nice post Carol Kaur. Interesting point of view thanks for taking the time to provide it.

Carol Kaur wrote:
I'd rather see an instructor that was clearer about their intentions from the beginning so the students can decide whether or not that is their cup of tea.

I agree that would be best. That said I can certainly understand the journey once started going in directions that one did not expect. This is true for both religious journeys and martial journeys. Not many here are still practicing the first martial art that they were exposed to I would think. Having an end goal makes the journeys predictable and stablebut sometimes boring. I myself value those that are willing to step out and grow no matter the mistakes, the willingness to make changes as they travel. It might mean losing some things to gain others. That is life. I have trained with some great guys but their journey differed from mine even while we were on the same path. We still train now and then but we must travel our own paths and sometimes at least with my own path it curves, switchbacks and traverses valleys and peaks. I have an idea of where I want to go and how to get there but honestly I still have to take a step at a time and be willing to backtrack and start over if needed. Students belonging to small schools should understand that the path will change and if that bothers them then perhaps a large well organized organization might be more stable and comfortable for them.

Gah it is late and I ramble. My apologies that to any that took the time to read this.

Thanks agian for your post Carol. It has given me something to think about.

Regards
Brian King
 

Cirdan

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While I am not totally against religion being practiced in the dojo, I`ve always liked to have the option of not taking part in this. The formal greeting at a kenjutsu school I trained at had a religious meaning, however we always had the option of using another simple non-religious greeting. Putting it in the patch is a bad idea if wearing it is mandatory.
 

jarrod

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Jarrod posted


That is true sir.



That is certainly one opinion and a very popular one. I disagree and find very much in common between some serious martial practices and attributes and some serious Christian practices and attributes. My opinion is formed by both my experiences in various non-Eastern martial arts and serious research into my Christian faith.



To be honest Jarrod many of the practices of eastern martial arts seem silly to me. Those uniforms and the obsession with belts rank and lineage, all the bowing and clapping and barking of commands that some arts thrive on, the rigorous following of protocols and worship of instructors and such. It does seem a little odd to me.

I am no expert on Asian martial arts but didnt Karate come from Okinawa? Didnt Chinese systems travel to Okinawa? Did certain martial knowledge travel from India to China? If they did indeed travel these routes it seems natural to me that the systems once transplanted would take on the religious and political beliefs of the area, either by a merging of ideas to form new ideas and beliefs or the complete take over of beliefs and philosophies by those beliefs native to the area. I do think that people that learn martial arts will attach their beliefs to the system that they are learning. It is natural that people relate the lessons learned in one discipline to lessons learned in the other no matter what the discipline. I have heard and in fact read many threads here on MT of musicians relating their martial practice to their music and their music to their martial practices, dancers do the same and various sports experiences crisscross between disciplines. Many martial artists are not bothered by this cross pollination of ideas until religion comes into it and then certain religions are exempt from criticism while others are held to extreme criticism in my opinion. This is not something in my opinion to be bothered by or fought against but best just observed and understood.

I have not really given this issue much thought so I thank you Jarrod for the chance to think aloud about it.


I guess it comes down to honesty. I do not think there is much danger to somebody "attaching" or not attaching Christian faith to Easter arts as long as they are honest about what they are doing. I think that there is no danger to keeping or not keeping Eastern and other Religious beliefs found with-in those arts as long as the instructors are honest and open about it. I think that the students should be aware of what they are learning and practicing and do so willingly if they chose to do so or chose to not do so

Some like Fords and some like BMW's, it is all good I guess

Again thanks for provoking some thoughts.
Regards
Brian King

Nice post TigerCraneGuy.
Off topic*
Welcome to Martial Talk sir. I look forward to reading more of your opinions.


always a pleasure to discuss the significance of religion with someone who can keep a level head about it :asian:

you are right; the generally accepted theory of asian martial arts transmission is india->china->okinawa->japan. interestingly this is the same pattern that religious transmission (specifically buddhism) followed.

in the case of both religion & MA, the end product ended up significantly different from the origianal. meaning the most common forms of buddhism practiced in japan differ greatly from theravada buddhism, just as japanese karate is much different from traditional indian martial arts. each was a natural process of cultural assimilation. this is a perfect example of what you were talking about as far as martial artists attaching their own beliefs to their system. the difference is that what the OP's instructor is doing is consciously making this attachment, & making it for his students as well. typically, this cross-pollination is either a natural result of cultural assimilation (meaning that for instance any japanese ideologies were only attached to MA as the arts themselves became "japanese"). otherwise, it is an individual choice & i think that to force your students to take on your ideologies is to remove a significant portion of the process of character development through martial arts training.

i agree with carol though; it is the gradual way that religion is being introduced that seems almost underhanded. if people enter into a martial arts organization knowing full well that it has a religious agenda, that is just fine. i would be irritated to have any ideology slipped in with my training if i hadn't signed on for it in the first place.

as an aside, i also agree with you about many asian MA customs being silly in & of themselves. for instance, i was looking at an iaido school. the website mentioned that if a student show up late to class, he was to bow to the flag, then kneel on the floor &bow to instructor. he was to remain there until the instructor acknowledged him.

are you kidding? that is fine in a culture that bows regularly & has a more structured social heirarchy than ours does, but to try & impose that particular custom on westerners just seems...well, it would be enough to prevent me from training there, anyway. i'm glad to have a coach who is happy with a simple "sorry i'm late!".

as you said though, to each his own. if someone wants to mix religion & MA that is fine with me. i think it's pretty clear the OP doesn't want to however.

jf
 

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I must say that hearing, or seeing "Army of the Cross." on something makes all the alarms go off in my head. After hearing about the Army of Jesus, and seeing a video of them on their genocidal beliefs.....I couldn't believe what I was hearing!
I don't have a problem with someone mixing their religion, with their Martial Arts, since eventually all aspects of a persons life will mix together into one thing, I'd ask for something that has a less military sounding name.
I know this doesn't quite answer your question, but this is the best I can think of.
 

Tez3

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On the side issue of MMA and religion.
http://www.southwarknews.co.uk/home/mma-cagerage/00,news,6757,8153,00.htm

Religion and 'outside' activities can make uneasy companions if only a few people are fervent and others not.
As others have said the only thing you can do is talk to the instructor.
The title of the thread is perhaps a bit much, I think just explaining the problem may have been enough, likening Christianity to a virus is unhelpful as well as probably insulting a lot of different Christians, I think what you are being overcome with is an excess of zeal which is never good in any religion tbh.
 

jarrod

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i've got it. "army of the damned" will be satan's mma team.

:headbangin:

i'm very excited to move this project forward.

hail satan.

jf
 

Tez3

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i've got it. "army of the damned" will be satan's mma team.

:headbangin:

i'm very excited to move this project forward.

hail satan.

jf

Oh good grief! :angel:
 

Sylo

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I think patches in general are somewhat cheesy.

my school has american flag/korean patch and used to have a school patch.. but all 3 were optional. I have one gi with all the patches, and one with none. I wear the non patched gi more than the other. My dad is a minister, so I have a large church/religious background. I believe in "god" but I also question things. So I don't just believe everything I read. I need to research it and ask questions. Sometimes this irks my dad who thinks I should just believe without question.

I would feel odd if my instructor was forcing me to wear something based on what "he" believes in. I'd talk to him first, and if he made a big deal about it.. thats my cue to find a new school.
 

Hagakure

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training should not be a platform for espousing your personal religious convictions. but, it happens all the time as most schools have some type of 'etiquette' or 'code of conduct, which stems from the instructor's personal belief system. and often, that is quite acceptable to the students, as that is part of the reason they are there. they want some cosomological modeling. part of the lure of the arts is that they have an attendant philosophy.

but making people display badges is going a bit too far, imo.

what you said here is pretty much the bottom line,





regards.

I agree. My Wing Chun sifu is a devout and practising Muslim, and never once mentions it in class. He has the shaved head and beard, and I've spoken to him about it "outside" of class, but as for in class? Nah, he never, ever mentions it. Peoples personal views, instructors or otherwise should be left at the dojo/jang door. IMHO. What you guys discuss/participate in outside of class is your own business, bringing it into class, when you're not paying to be ministered to, is taking advantage.

Hagakure.
 

MJS

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Personally I think the patch is overall, a good idea. I'll explain.

I do not believe that martial arts and religion absolutely must be separated. I have worked out with a couple of folks that are devout Christians, that express their faith not through scripture or biblical analogies but in the way they treat others on the mat and in the motivations they have to teach.

I have heard of others folks (ie: Karate for Christ) that have a different approach, they actively blend their training and their faith, and set everyone's expectations for what they do. I have a lot of respect for that...it manages everyone's expectations.

In this case, its the incrementalism that bothers me. I'd rather see an instructor that was clearer about their intentions from the beginning so the students can decide whether or not that is their cup of tea.

Great post, however, I disagree with a few things. I have to wonder, but it seems to me that the OPs instructor is just now making them wear these patches. Seems to me that while the teacher was a devote Christian all along, only now he is really pushing this onto his classes. The OP clearly states that his inst. is commanding the students to wear these patches. Sorry, but that is not right. He is forcing someone to do something that they may not be confortable with.

I think its important to find out whether or not being involved in the teachers religion was a pre-req upon initially joining the school. Now we can look at this 2 ways. 1) It could be told to any new students that religion, the religion of the head inst. will be forced upon everyone or 2) That you could still train at the school, but if you do not feel comfortable with the religion, thats fine and you don't have to partake in any of it. ie: wearing a patch, following the beliefs, etc.

For the record, I'm not anti God nor am I anti religion. I was born and raised Catholic by my family. However, we do not force our religion or beliefs upon anyone. Hey, I've been approached on the street by people preaching and handing out info. I've had people come knocking on my door. I always respectfully decline and even with my attempts to walk away, these people feel it necessary to continue to preach, instead of respecting my wishes to leave me alone. I recall one time a while ago at my Grandparents house. 2 people came to the door, and despite the dog going crazy and her repeated attempts to tell them that she wasn't interested, they continued to stay, only leaving after she stated that if they did not leave, she would call the police and have them arrested for trespassing on her property. Call it mean if you want, but when someone tells you that they're not interested, respect that.
 

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training should not be a platform for espousing your personal religious convictions. but, it happens all the time as most schools have some type of 'etiquette' or 'code of conduct, which stems from the instructor's personal belief system. and often, that is quite acceptable to the students, as that is part of the reason they are there. they want some cosomological modeling. part of the lure of the arts is that they have an attendant philosophy.

but making people display badges is going a bit too far, imo.

what you said here is pretty much the bottom line,





regards.

Sorry, I disagree. I have been training for over 20+ years now, and I have never had any religion pushed on me. I go to the dojo to train the Martial Arts, not to be preached to. If I want that, I go to church. The code of conduct that I've usually seen is to be respectful to your fellow students, your family, your inst., to be the best person you can, etc. Nothing religious was contained in that code at any of the schools I've been a member of.

I do agree with your last part though...forcing them to wear that patch isn't right.
 

Tez3

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Sorry, I disagree. I have been training for over 20+ years now, and I have never had any religion pushed on me. I go to the dojo to train the Martial Arts, not to be preached to. If I want that, I go to church. The code of conduct that I've usually seen is to be respectful to your fellow students, your family, your inst., to be the best person you can, etc. Nothing religious was contained in that code at any of the schools I've been a member of.

I do agree with your last part though...forcing them to wear that patch isn't right.


I agree totally with you, I think if people want a Dojo that also administers to their religious needs they will join one, it shouldn't be religion by stealth! When you join a dojo that is non religious it shouldn't turn into a branch of preachers-r-us.

Some types however are very persistant in besieging you with their religion, not so long ago we had to get the police to clear a group of evangelical Christians away from the gates of a Jewish primary school (age 4-11) so the children could leave, they were very full on, handing out leaflets, forcing them into the hands of the children and preaching on the pavement outside the school gate making it impossible for parents, children and teachers to get in without difficulty. Incidentally while it's a Jewish school, some of the pupils are Christian and Muslim.
 

terryl965

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All this talk about religion is killing me, can;t we all just agree with this statement. Religion belongs in the church and not on the workout floor.
 

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