My Dojo Is Becoming Infected

Kreth

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This seems like a no-brainer to me. If you're not comfortable with the training environment, find another dojo... :idunno:
 
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Shinobi Teikiatsu

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I'm sorry if I made people feel like I don't respect anybody in my dojo. I respect my teacher and my fellow practitioners. But as martial artists. I respect them as my comrades in the dojo, but I would not like to catch a drink with them after training. I'm not saying I CAN'T hang out with someone who has different beliefs than I do, there's a girl who trains there who believes like them but isn't quite as fevrent about it. She and I are friends outside of the dojo BECAUSE we believe so differently. The rest of them, however, seem compelled to try and convert me to their beliefs, even when I say that I'm not interested.

My instructor is a good man and a great martial artist, and he did flat out tell me that he also directed a church alongside the dojo, so some Christian overtone was expected, and it was tolerable before. He gave us some stories and examples from the Bible that were always relevent, but never really TOO deep, if you understand what I'm saying.

Now, however, he seems adament about merging the church and the dojo, since most of those who train go to his dojo anyways. This would work fine if it weren't for the other people that DIDN'T go to the church, and didn't sign up to be in a martial art that was led by a church.

I do intend to talk to him, and I'm glad to see all the people that have opinions on this subject.

On the matter of Satanist MMA...what?
 

astrobiologist

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I have been impressed by reading this thread. I agree that the best route here is to talk to your instructor, but, honestly, it kind of sounds like you've already made up your mind about the situation. Not just the patch situation, but everything surrounding it, too. You seem troubled enough to leave. Honestly, I wouldn't blame you. It's your choice where you train and what you believe, no one else's. If someone is trying to impose a belief system on you, then you have every right to stand up and say no. I hope your instructor is understanding and will see why this bothers you. He may even realize through this that he needs to be more forthcoming about his intent to make his martial arts school religiously affiliated.
 

arnisador

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This seems like a no-brainer to me. If you're not comfortable with the training environment, find another dojo...

Well, there's nothing wrong with approaching the instructor, who may not appreciate that not all of his changes are being greeted enthusiastically. He may have convinced himself that everyone there shares his values. If you always leave without ever discussing matters you do a disservice to both parties. Trying to make a change is good...persisting after the instructor says No isn't.
 

Josh Oakley

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Despite what other people have been saying, I don't believe this is a clear cut issue, for anyone involved. And, in fact, I'm going to actually support the instructor. Bear with me.

First, my background:
I run a martial arts school and am a christian, and have been a chaplain assistant in the Army for 8 years. my position in the military has exposed me to the whole gamut of religious beliefs, and a number of big name evangelists, including the writer of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren. I also trained in Kung Fu San Soo under Paul Schroeder, an 8th degree black belt and a youth pastor.

I personally do not incorporate Christianity into my martial arts program, and never will, because I believe martial arts is a universal outlet and for me to specialize, I would have to neglect many others who have a sincere desire to train. Sifu Schroeder was of the same opinion.

However, were I to put myself in the instructor/evangelist's shoes, I'd probably do the same thing, eventually. My guess is this is something that has been weighing on his heart for a very long time. As an Evangelist, your whole life's purpose is to win as many souls for Christ as you can, through any means you can. The mainstream philosohpy behind evangelism is that any endeavor you take that is not geared towards winning souls is time wasted.

Please understand that I don't believe this. But the instructor in question does, if I'm not off my guess. And if I'm on, then it was only a matter of time before this happened. The instructor is being true to himself. Based on his beliefs, this would be a right action.

Unfortunately, this is an action that will probably cost him a good number of students. My guess is that many of his people are not Christians, and will probably be offended and leave. But I'm betting the instructor didn't come to this decision lightly, and probably not abandon his decision.

Frankly, more power to him. Sometimes, in following your ideals, you come at odds with others, and you have to choose between people and your ideal. If someone believes strongly enough in the ideal, the ideal will win out every time.

What sucks, however is that in him following his ideals, he will likely orphan a lot of students. On the plus side, America has no shortage of martial arts schools. If someone is interested in training, but does not want to have religion pushed down their throats there is plenty of opportunity to train elsewhere (my dojo for instance!)

This issue is a difficult one for all parties involved. Shinobi, I hope things work out well; for you, your instructor, and your fellow students as well.
 
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Shinobi Teikiatsu

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Yeah, I see what you're trying to say. Sad part is, though, There are a good 30 people that train under him, and only seven, maybe ten of us, don't believe the way he does.
 

Uchinanchu

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An interesting dilema, and, I might add, a very odd coincidence. I have been having a discussion with with a Christian friend of mine on whether or not it is detrimental to for a Christian to be practicing karate (and most other eastern martial arts) due to the supposed fact that most, if not all, have deep connections to Eastern religions/philosophies such as Zen Buddhism, Shinto, Confusainism etc...

I'm currently working on a paper that shows that historically, the Japanese & Okinawan arts are NOT synonymus with Zen Buddhism, but in fact, were imbedded with it. If anyone is interested in reading it, I'll be more than happy to post it here when it is complete.
 

exile

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An interesting dilema, and, I might add, a very odd coincidence. I have been having a discussion with with a Christian friend of mine on whether or not it is detrimental to for a Christian to be practicing karate (and most other eastern martial arts) due to the supposed fact that most, if not all, have deep connections to Eastern religions/philosophies such as Zen Buddhism, Shinto, Confusainism etc...

I'm currently working on a paper that shows that historically, the Japanese & Okinawan arts are NOT synonymus with Zen Buddhism, but in fact, were imbedded with it. If anyone is interested in reading it, I'll be more than happy to post it here when it is complete.

I'd certainly be interested in seeing what you've written!

I don't, myself, see any more inherent religious content to fighting skills than to downhill skiing/racing skills. A martial art is, at base, a set of abilities which involve knowledge of how one is likely to be attacked, what kinds of counters to the repertoire of such attacks are likely to be successful, and how to use practical knowledge of the skeletal/anatomical structure of the body to incapacitate an attacker. Mental attitudes and disciplines are important to the application of such skills—exactly as they are when racing down a steep, icy, deeply rutted slalom course. Having done the latter enough times, I can attest that survival is just as much on your mind as it is in a street fight, and cool detachment and loss of ego-sense are critical components of a successful run. But there is absolutely nothing in that mind set which has religious content. In just the same way, there are Christian, Jewish, Islamic and probably Zoroastrian yoga exponents, none of whom feel that practicing yoga entails accepting one or another variety of Hinduism, any more than adherents of the Pilates training method feel themselves obliged to follow the personal religious creed of Joseph Pilates.
 

chinto

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it is inappropriate to be preaching any religion as part of MA... martial arts is about combat, it is about fighting, defending yourself and even taking a life if you have to to defend yourself and or others. IT IS NOT about RELIGION!
 

Josh Oakley

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it is inappropriate to be preaching any religion as part of MA... martial arts is about combat, it is about fighting, defending yourself and even taking a life if you have to to defend yourself and or others. IT IS NOT about RELIGION!

See, what you're saying does not bear the weight of history. The hindu warrior class would disagree with you as would the Shaolin monks and the Knights Templar (or even the Rosicurians). The Yamabushi of Japan would have disagreed as well.

This is the problem with this discussion. People HAVE used MA as a vehicle for religion and quite effectively. There's a Christian Kempo group that does this as well, and there's also the CMAA (Christian Martial Artists Association). Tai Chi Chuan and other martial arts are expressions of Taoism

But there are also people for whom MA didn't have any religious undertones or even spiritual ones. The issue is not cut and dry. Your martial arts are not about religion. Other martial arts are the very expression thereof.

Heck, Hatsuumi just got his organization recognized as a bonafide religion.

I should warn you that you're falling prey to the fallacy of egocentrism. You have a particular take on the purpose of Martial Arts, and assume that that is true universally. Other people, historically, and even now, share a very different view. Who is right? That depends on perception.

As a side note, even your handle is a play on the word shinto, a polytheistic and animistic religion.
 
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Josh Oakley

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Yeah, I see what you're trying to say. Sad part is, though, There are a good 30 people that train under him, and only seven, maybe ten of us, don't believe the way he does.


Yeah, that's a tough part. The situation sucks, frankly. I don't think I see a perfect answer to it.
 

Uchinanchu

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See, what you're saying does not bear the weight of history. The hindu warrior class would disagree with you as would the Shaolin monks and the Knights Templar (or even the Rosicurians). The Yamabushi of Japan would have disagreed as well.

This is the problem with this discussion. People HAVE used MA as a vehicle for religion and quite effectively. There's a Christian Kempo group that does this as well, and there's also the CMAA (Christian Martial Artists Association). Tai Chi Chuan and other martial arts are expressions of Taoism

But there are also people for whom MA didn't have any religious undertones or even spiritual ones. The issue is not cut and dry. Your martial arts are not about religion. Other martial arts are the very expression thereof.


Heck, Hatsuumi just got his organization recognized as a bonafide religion.

I should warn you that you're falling prey to the fallacy of egocentrism. You have a particular take on the purpose of Martial Arts, and assume that that is true universally. Other people, historically, and even now, share a very different view. Who is right? That depends on perception.

As a side note, even your handle is a play on the word shinto, a polytheistic and animistic religion.


Very well put! I could not have said that much better myself. It is very true that many cultures have used their indiginous fighting styles as a medium for propagating their religious/philosophical beliefs.
Many older cultures such as the Chinese and Japanese even have many everyday social customs that have underlying religious meaning, though many, if not most people (within their respective countries) do not even realize it.
One such custom in Japan would be the act of removing ones shoes before entering a house/business. This simple act signified the belief that the 'outside world' was impure or dirty. Someones house/abode was considered to be an inner sanctum, if you will, and one did not wish to defile it with the impurities of the outside world.
 

exile

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As a side note, even your handle is a play on the word shinto, a polytheistic and animistic religion.

?? How do you make that out, Josh? Chinto is the name of a kata created by Bushi Matsumura, taken from the name of the Chinese sailor whose fighting style Matsumura was impressed by and whose technical content he recorded by means of that kata. It has no connection with 'Shinto'/Shintoism whatsoever.

And on another note: whether or not people use MAs as vehicles for their religion, the fact is that this school was presented to the OPer as a MA school at the beginning, not as a ministry. Had it been presented as a ministry, it's likely that the OPer would have gone elsewhere. What's been sprung on him is that the school is now to be a ministrythat's fairly evident, I think, to the people thereputting the OPer in the position of either having to discontinue his training there or to adopt behaviors which go against his conscience. That has nothing to do with the issue of whether MAs can incorporate religious ideals or not; what it has to do with is the fact that the OPer's instructor is unilaterally changing the rules of the game in the middle.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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I'm sorry if I made people feel like I don't respect anybody in my dojo. I respect my teacher and my fellow practitioners. But as martial artists.
Well, then why did you call your dojo a McDojo? That is actually more disrespectful than the rest of it because calling a martial arts school a McDojo on the internet has serious implications. McDojo is a pejorative and it implies inferior or worse training, price gouging, and five year old black belts.

If your dojo does not fall into this category, then calling it a McDojo on the internet incredibly disrespectful.

I am a Christian of Catholic persuasion, but I wasn't offended by the 'virus' remark. I can understand why you might have that reaction given what you describe below.

I respect them as my comrades in the dojo, but I would not like to catch a drink with them after training. I'm not saying I CAN'T hang out with someone who has different beliefs than I do, there's a girl who trains there who believes like them but isn't quite as fevrent about it. She and I are friends outside of the dojo BECAUSE we believe so differently. The rest of them, however, seem compelled to try and convert me to their beliefs, even when I say that I'm not interested.
It is one thing to share one's faith, but another to push it on people. I can understand why conversion efforts would turn you off. This would also explain why you refer to it as the "Christian virus."

My instructor is a good man and a great martial artist, and he did flat out tell me that he also directed a church alongside the dojo, so some Christian overtone was expected, and it was tolerable before. He gave us some stories and examples from the Bible that were always relevent, but never really TOO deep, if you understand what I'm saying.

Now, however, he seems adament about merging the church and the dojo, since most of those who train go to his dojo anyways. This would work fine if it weren't for the other people that DIDN'T go to the church, and didn't sign up to be in a martial art that was led by a church.
Most likely, this has been a decision that has been long coming and took him a lot of time to arrive at. But personally, unless the dojo started out that way, I think he'd actually do better to keep it separate from his church. From an evangelistic standpoint, if your only members are already in your church, you accomplish nothing because all of the members are already evangelized. People tend to respect religious folks more when they don't impress their beliefs on others. By making the school into a religious facility, it will actually drive away some of the people he may hope to reach.

Also, when religion becomes the focal point, any faults or missteps he or his Evangelical students make will be examined under the microscope by those who do not share their beliefs. This opens him up to "Some Christian he/she is, doing something like that..." or "Christians are all fakes..." or whatever comments.

Personally, I think that he should make this particular patch an option for church members and leave it be for the rest of his class.

Best wishes,

Daniel
 

Daniel Sullivan

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?? whether or not people use MAs as vehicles for their religion, the fact is that this school was presented to the OPer as a MA school at the beginning, not as a ministry. Had it been presented as a ministry, it's likely that the OPer would have gone elsewhere. What's been sprung on him is that the school is now to be a ministrythat's fairly evident, I think, to the people thereputting the OPer in the position of either having to discontinue his training there or to adopt behaviors which go against his conscience. That has nothing to do with the issue of whether MAs can incorporate religious ideals or not; what it has to do with is the fact that the OPer's instructor is unilaterally changing the rules of the game in the middle.
And this is the heart of the problem.

Daniel
 

Carol

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I agree its an issue, and its not fair to Shinobi and his classmates that do not necessarily want their training and their evangelism in the same place. I wouldn't care for it either, for that matter.

At the same time, there are teachers that change, and they change a way that has a serious impact on their student. Some close their schools and/or move away. Some go in a direction that is not palatable to a student. Some instructors go from independent to being part of an organization that the student may or may not agree with. Or perhaps they change organizations, leaving the student with conflicting loyalties.

Not sure what the solution is. The logician in me wonders if there was a way to "grandfather" in existing students that perhaps didn't want to partake in the evangelical dimensions in the class for a given amount of time, but that would likely be a difficult aspect to implement in practice. Plus, I also believe that its the student's responsibility to choose an instructor that they are proud of. Once a student earns a black belt (or equivalent), that student will always be associated with that instructor. Its important to choose wisely....even if choosing wisely means making a decision when one's had is nearly forced. :asian:
 

IcemanSK

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It seems that there are a lot of issues that you need to discuss with your instructor beyond just the patch. In your OP, you seemed to think that it was the start of something bigger that he had planned.

Talking with your instructor about your concerns that you're wondering if it might turn into a Christian MA program & what the expectations might then be is an important piece. IMO

Don't assume that it will be something that it may not be. Talk with your instructor & get the information so that you can make an informed decision. If it's just the patch, then ask yourself if you can live with that. If you ask & he tells you there is more planned, then you know.

Your first post was full of emotion, but in following posts you've said your instructor is a good guy & great instructor. Give him the benefit of the doubt & share your concerns with him. If he has intentions of changing things more than what you are comfortable with, then leave freely. But wondering what he's going to do, will just get you stressed out.

Let us know how it goes.
 

bowser666

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Well thsi may or may not get me in trouble but I feel that if he ministers at a church outside the school, then why bring it into the dojo as well ? Me personally I do not like "in your face religion" and I don't think it is a good idea to mix both in a training environment at a dojo. The most I would do perhaps is keep pamphlets on my counter about my church. From what you have mentioned it sounds liek he wants to alienate those that do not wear the patch.

If he is looking to get rid of students that do not go to his preachings, then IMO this is a school not worth attending. I was raised Roman Catholic , and practice no religion. ( I have't for almost 20 years) Religion IMO is for people to discover on their own terms. Not have it force fed, whether in a home or public environment , family or community. Make it available to obtain info if they require it, but do not force them to wear patches, read books, on or about those topics. Sorry If I am going off on a tangent, but this kind of thing aggravates me. Is he teaching MA for the sake of teaching or is he simply using it a a outlet to convert more people to his preachings ?
 

Daniel Sullivan

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Well this may or may not get me in trouble but I feel that if he ministers at a church outside the school, then why bring it into the dojo as well ?
If that is what he wants to do, some sort of martial arts ministry, that is fine. The problem arises in that the ministry aspect was not a part of the curriculum when students first joined.

Me personally I do not like "in your face religion" and I don't think it is a good idea to mix both in a training environment at a dojo. The most I would do perhaps is keep pamphlets on my counter about my church. From what you have mentioned it sounds liek he wants to alienate those that do not wear the patch.
I am not a fan of in your face religion either. I find it counterproductive, as it tends to push away the very people you're trying to minister to, particularly when it is outside of a religious setting.

Now, if his goal is to do some kind of martial outreach, this approach will backfire. If he is trying to create a dojo-haven for Christian students to feel spiritually 'safe' in, then this approach is just fine exept that he's changing the rules on almost a third of his existing students.

It is his business and he can do what he wants. He may lose customers, but as long as he doesn't tell them that they cannot train there without converting and without reclassifying the school as a religious organization, then he's on safe legal ground.

If he is looking to get rid of students that do not go to his preachings, then IMO this is a school not worth attending.
Is he teaching MA for the sake of teaching or is he simply using it a a outlet to convert more people to his preachings ?
Probably both. But so far, there is no indication that he is trying to force anyone to actually go to his church. The biggest problem that I see is that the students that are also church members are exerting pressure on those who are not and he is not doing anythng to curb this, and is thus condoning it.

Daniel
 

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