|Posted on April 4, 2019 at 8:05 AM|
“Martial Arts is a RELIGION!” retorted a staunch fundamental brother in Christ when he found out that my first hubby and I had a Christian martial arts ministry. It was as if we were caught smuggling contraband into the Church. Interestingly, many people we knew from our Southern Baptist church had enrolled their children in local Taekwondo classes to help them learn self-defense and self-discipline. Those were NOT Christian, but very much entrenched in Buddhist teachings. Why was this man upset about our Christian martial arts ministry instead of sharing concerns with our friends who sent their kids to Taekwondo? Ignorance. He didn’t understand that the discipline of martial arts was a tool we used, cleaned up for the Lord, to reach people for Christ and teach them to serve Him.
Basic Background of Religious Origins of these Exercise Systems
For martial arts, the whole grandmaster system and veneration of the system lineage comes from Shinto, a Japanese religion. Different countries of origin and systems will have some variation of Hinduism and Buddhism. These religions do not have what we consider a “God” figure; rather one has a cycle of reincarnation and treats each person as a god. They are pantheistic in nature. The other has an impersonal force of the cosmos as the primary “god” figure, but considers each person as a having a “spark of the divine” within. Namaste’ mean, “The god in me recognizes the god in you.” (see also Got Questions?)In karate, we were taught that Os (aka. Osu) is said with a bow of respect and also with zazen bowing (a type of veneration of black belt ranks, grandmasters, and lineage masters of karate system). I later learned it was similar to Namaste’. These are used to great each other or open a Yoga or martial arts class.
These religions are often mistaken as philosophies of living because of the lack of a central God figure. Some people mistakenly believe that Guatama Buddha is the god of Buddhism. He is not. He is considered a wise teacher by Buddhist followers. One twist to Buddhism is the concept of Taoism which teaches that good and bad, light and dark, and male and female are opposed to each other while balancing each other. The other is Shinto from Japan which venerates ancestors to the point of using spirit money to “bribe” their ancestors’ spirits to bring good luck upon the individual or family. It is also based upon the notion of bringing only honor upon one’s family or business. These religious beliefs have infiltrated our culture today through martial arts and yoga practices, acting as a spiritual landmine in health, fitness, wellness, and business today. Yoga and Tai Chi are traditionally religious practices from Hindusim and Buddhism, not religions.
Sorting the Junk from the Exercise
When we first sought martial arts classes for our son due to the difficulties he had with ADHD, we quickly realized that we didn’t want him indoctrinated with Buddhism in the classes. Taekwondo seemed to have the least overt practices, so we enrolled him in a community parks class with an instructor my first husband knew from work. The strictness of Zen showed up in disciplinary measures like wall sits and push-ups to correct behavior. He didn’t stay very long, but we could see the benefits of martial arts to build up his attention span. When I found an article in our local newspaper for a Christian martial arts class at a church, we signed him up, but we took lessons too. This instructor, who took Okinawan Shorinji in Okinawa during his military service, had cleaned out a good portion of the religious part. Unfortunately, there was a little bit lingering which Don and I took out. The instructor had transliterated some terms from Shinto and Buddhism without realizing it didn’t work well with religions. We later became instructors and founded our own system American Stratiotia Christou (American Warriors for Christ). It was reviewed and approved by two Christian martial arts associations: Black Belts of the Faith International and Koininia Fellowship of Martial Artists. When we put an announcement in the local papers, we ended up overflowing with students from Christian families! They had been praying for a Christian karate class. Each belt level had a Bible verse and Christian character lessons. Black belt candidates had to share their Christian faith testimony and what they believed God wanted them to do with Christian martial arts. All forms and defense maneuvers were changed to have a defensive tactic before an offensive strike. We had a “No Kill” policy for all of what we taught our students. Making Jesus central in what we taught changed everything! No transliteration. No god-hood. No mediation or zazen bowing. Respect for, not veneration of, instructors. Jesus was our only Master to serve.
What this Means Today at Be Totally Fit for Life
On this side of my first husband’s death, I still own our system, but God had other ways He wanted me to serve Him like writing with the Christian health, fitness and wellness platform. Part of this is teaching exercise classes. God took me through world religions three times from three different perspectives for a reason, even though I got an “A” each time! It was to help people understand the trap of the New Age movement and to help Christians avoid getting caught up in it.
I saw the value of PraiseMoves, the Christian Alternative to Yoga, when I stumbled across it online. Dr. Laurette Willis, the founder of PraiseMoves, had done the very same thing our karate instructor and we had done with our martial arts system. The altars were torn down, the poses were changed taking Hindu symbolism out, and making appropriate name changes. Every posture has a Bible verse attached, in some cases, a secondary passage as well. Only Christian music is used. The whole class is like a worship service! No death symbolism, but life and life abundantly. It is NOT Christian yoga, where instructors tried to use the same poses, never bothered to clear out the physical symbols nor change the names. All they did was add a Bible verse, if you are so blessed, but all the trappings of Hindu yoga are there. You can’t Christianize another religious practice. It can only be redeemed through a particular process to become a tool for evangelism and discipleship. (see 4-D Living format used in “A Call to Purity in Body and Spirit” . The physical postures have physical benefit for our fitness and health. That is why I teach PraiseMoves (short video clip).
Christian Alternatives to Tai Chi exist, but I haven’t found instructor certification nor have I been able to really scrutinize them. Also, similar issues exist with Christianizing a Buddhist meditative practice. There is indeed a physical benefit to Tai Chi, but I don’t want to lead people astray. I had looked into finding a Tai Chi system that would be “safe”, but even the Sun-style Tai Chi with the Arthritis Foundation is rife with Buddhist practices. A thought bounced around in my head for the past three years about building an alternative to Tai Chi that would be safe and glorify God. There is a value to the exercise aspect for Christians, especially those with chronic pain and fatigue. One day, after I had been spending a lot more time in our house away from the allergens in our apartment, ChiRho Flow suddenly started pulling together! I decided on the name because Chi Rho is the ancient symbol for Jesus Christ.The word flow is used simply because the movement is flowing in nature. I remembered a Christian group with exercise instructor music called SpiritFit Music, so I contacted them to obtain music licensed for instructor use in physical and online classes. The Holy Spirit continues to lead me in writing this martial art/exercise system to bring honor and glory to Him! None of it has ever come from Tai Chi, which I consider a plus.
I believe there is a need for these alternatives to help Christians and seekers avoid the traps of New Age religious content prevalent in our culture. People with chronic health conditions can definitely benefit, but anyone who simply wants the physical benefits of yoga and tai chi with Bible study and prayer can destress, focus on God, and become better stewards of their bodies. That is why I teach these alternatives to yoga and tai chi. It is much like the meat sacrificed to idols, not the practice of idolatry (1 Corinthians 8) . Some Christians may never feel right doing it because it may be a stumbling block to them. I offer you the opportunity to see it for yourself, unlike the brother in Christ who decided to correct us from the “error of our ways” because he never came to see what was actually being practiced.
See for Yourself
I would love for you to at least observe each of these classes: PraiseMoves and ChiRho Flow. Prayerfully consider each one, whether it is something the Lord would allow you to do. Use discount code CLASSPASS1 to work out or watch for free. If you wish to take classes after the free one, you can either pay on my Yondo page or become a monthly member for $20 of unlimited classes only in my Web Store. I will send you the required forms and links to all of the classes. If you choose monthly membership, you must pay each month. I will send you a reminder one week before your month ends. I would love for you to have the benefits of these fantastic exercise forms.
May God bless you!