***Due to requests for easier accessibility, I have also posted these here from my Wordpress blog site.***
by Sensei Charlaine Engelhardt, 3rd Dan 1999
martial arts struggle with the overt contradictions to their faith in
Jesus Christ and the Bible's teachings with the philosophies taught in
martial arts in general, as well as supposed similarities. Many, while
training in secular groups, usually highly traditional school, are
bothered deep in their spirit and don't know exactly why. But they
finish training to get the coveted black belt. Then they embark on their
own. Praise God there are now Christian martial arts associations that
have become more prominent to aid these individuals. But many come
across web pages like this one seeking help to stay on track with their
faith and not give way to foreign religions that are intertwined in the
art. We pray that the Lord will use these articles to at least provoke
individual thought and Godly discernment in the “house cleaning”
Something to keep in mind as you research various
concerns pertaining to Christian practice and ethics is this: God is a
jealous God. He does not want our attention divided. We are to stay
faithful and be obedient to Him. When we do, He will bless us and the
work we have done building His Kingdom. In the book of Joshua, Joshua
was instructed by God to tell Israel to go in to take the Promised Land
and they will multiply and prosper, with the condition that they must be
faithful and obedient to Him (Joshua 1). We can apply this to us today.
If we, who are called by His Name, will be faithful and obedient, God
will take care of our needs and give us blessings that we cannot even
The opposite can also happen. We can turn from our
worship of God (I am not addressing Armenianism nor Calvinism, but
rather the outward practice and inward dethroning of Christ in one's
relational priorities) and allow idols to come take up residence within
the core of our being. This may occur if we linger too long with various
"non-threatening" symbols, attitudes, and teachings.
In Ezekiel 8, God
takes Ezekiel through a vision-tour of the Temple. At the entrance to
the Temple was an idol beside the gate to the Outer Court. God tells him
how detestable this is to Him. He then takes Ezekiel to the North Gate
of the Temple to see women mourning the death of Tammuz (this god dies
in the fall and lives again in the spring in this mythology). That was
upsetting to God, but He wanted to show Ezekiel what angered Him even
more. In the inner court with the elders of His people who had their
backs to the altar of the Temple and their faces to the sun practicing
worship rituals to the sun. This was an area limited to the priests who
were to minister to God. The message for us is that letting something
seemingly harmless as a symbol or practice take up a place in our lives
will eventually become central in our lives over God. This is detestable
to God and will be our downfall, much like what happened to Solomon.
We are modern day Daniels.
Many of us willfully enrolled in martial arts training only to find
ourselves indoctrinated into a foreign culture complete with their
religion. Others are indoctrinated into humanistic (supposedly
non-religious) mindset and practices. If we wish to continue training or
to keep rank status, then appeasing certain people to keep
certification is required. It is a costly proposition. Even some, such
as ourselves, trained with Christian instructors who brought along some
of the trappings from their own training and pass them on to their
students. There will be times when we will go through training,
tournament competition, seminars, etc. without making waves and actually
be seen as extremely valuable by those around us. But there are also
times when we will have to stand firm against anything that will damage
our allegiance to God. This will not be popular. However, it is better
to offend people rather than God. God wants to bless and reward His
people. The greatest rewards we can receive from our Lord will be seeing
others going to Heaven with us and to hear Him say, "Well done good and
faithful servant. Enter into my rest."
The Yin Yang
already been pressed to decide if we, as Christians, are not already
practicing a foreign religion with the physical aspects of our art.
However, combat and self-protection are universal needs. The concerns
come as to whether there is harm for us to wear or display such a
symbol. First, we must understand where it comes from and what it means
to those who believe it. Second is to see what God has to say about it.
yin yang is seen about everywhere you go. We see it on jewelry,
t-shirts, public signs, hidden in products in commercials (Trix yogurt
and Mentadent toothpaste, for example) The yin yang seems to come part
and parcel with martial arts as well. Even Billy Blanks put one in his
studio in his TaeBo videos. Quite a few of Christians wear them or draw
them, but do not know what they are all about. Do you? Should we as
Christian martial artists use them or display them in our schools,
clothing, or equipment? Is it compatible with Christian doctrine or not?
symbol is rather plain, yet distinctive. There is a light side and a
dark side with an eye of the opposite color. The two halves swirl
together looking like two fish curled around each other. The white side
symbolizes light, good, male, everything positive in the universe. The
dark side symbolizes dark, evil, female, everything that is negative in
our universe. The eyes represent the small portion of the opposite that
is present in the corresponding half. The swirling represents the tense,
but balanced existence of the two forces.1 Evil should never eradicate
good, nor vice versa.
Opposite opposing forces are considered to
be able to be used together to accomplish much. This also ties in with
the concept of Chi, which we will address in the article, Ch’i Whiz.
Some martial arts strategies use it to knock an attacker off balance
while conserving energy.2 This is seen in Kenpo quite a bit with
stepping back while pushing forward or in Aikido in deflecting an
attack, then redirecting the attacker's energy back at him. Magnets pull
together when opposite poles are aimed at each other. But this is in
the physical realm, not necessarily the spiritual.
This symbol is
from the religion of Taoism ( pronounced Dowizm). It is a religion
rather than a philosophy because it deals with existential concerns and
the understanding of a transcendent force in control which drives
everything. This philosophical religion is based upon balance of nature
for the Ultimate Reality where all things and people will eventually be
absorbed. Anything we are willing to live and die for becomes our god.
That is religion. Tao is a religion with Ultimate Reality (an impersonal
force) as god. 3 This meshes well with Buddhism, Hinduism, and
Shintoism. These four major Eastern religions are foundational in the
New Age movement today. 4
to the Bible, there is no basis in reality that the concept of the Yin
Yang could be true from the spiritual standpoint. God's Word says that
good and evil (symbolized by light and dark) cannot exit together in
harmony. In I John 1: 5-7, we are told that God's very nature is light
(good) and there is no darkness (evil) in Him at all. We as Christians
cannot have fellowship with God if we walk in darkness (evil). We are to
walk in the light so we may have fellowship with God and be cleansed
from our sin by Jesus' shed blood. Some Christians justify the Yin Yang
as reality because we are God's light in a sin-filled world. However,
light (truth) exposes the deeds of darkness (evil) (John 3:19-20).
New Agers and martial artists have justified the Yin Yang by saying
that wherever there is light there is a shadow. But in reality, there is
no shadow without an obstacle. That obstacle is sin, which casts the
darkness of the shadow. When sin is exposed in the believer's life, one
should repent and follow God obediently. The one who continues in sin is
drawn deeper into sin (Ephesians 5:17-32; I Timothy 6:9-12). So the
shadow will either grow or wane.
We are to walk in the light having no
fellowship with the works of darkness. We are to expose the evil deeds
of darkness by the power of the Holy Spirit evident in our lives (John
3:20, 21; Ephesians 5:11). Christians are to be set apart, or holy, from
the world like God is holy. This enables us to be light in a sin-filled
world. We cannot relate to God, the Father of Lights, who is truth,
good, and holy unless we know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
Otherwise we are doomed to darkness, evil desires and actions. Jesus
removed the obstacle casting the shadow of sin. Jesus disarmed evil on
the cross, destroying Satan's power over people (Colossians 2:15;
Hebrews 2:14-15). He opened up our access to God the Father when the
veil over the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew
27:51). Why would we want to put that obstacle back with something so
small as a symbol?
6:10-17 says that there is a spiritual battle with Satan and his evil
forces. Without God's armor, we could never withstand the attacks. This
armor is issued to us when we accept Christ as Savior. We make Him Lord
when we put it to use. Satan's whole purpose is to try to thwart God's
plan. Is that harmony? In the end, Satan, his demons, and those who did
not believe in Jesus are cast into the Lake of Fire, the second death.
Because of this, New Jerusalem, where believers live forever with God
never closes its gates for protection from attacks. Nothing evil ever
enters into it. Light is continually there since God and Christ are its
lamp. No one is ever sad or sick because those are results from original
sin. There is no darkness, no evil in eternity (Revelation 20:11-15;
21, 22). We will live with God forever and ever, as was His plan all
along. During the existence of this heaven and earth, good and evil are
at war. When this world ends and the new begins, there will only be
goodness and light. Good and evil are not compatible. War is not simply
tension, but an attempt to conquer or destroy the other. They cannot
exist in harmony.
If you have noticed through the Bible study
segment, that our God is not impersonal, but He has a definite concern
for us. He wants to have a relationship with us. Since we cannot see in
the darkness of our sin, He, a holy and righteous God, made the effort
to remove the obstacle that stands between us and Him by sending Jesus
in our place. This is called atonement (Romans 5:10; Colossians
1:21-22). This is the only way to live harmoniously. This is a far
different concept than becoming one with an impersonal force by our own
We need to be careful as Christians the symbols we use.
What we use identifies us. This is very confusing to Christians and
non-Christians alike as they look at us in our classes, demonstrations,
tournaments, and everyday life. We should check the meaning behind
symbols before we use them or wear them. Sometimes we think we have done
our homework only to find out a new tidbit of information. For example,
we used to put out the newsletter for the ministry where we trained
entitled, Bushido Gazette. Our instructor had transliterated the "way of
the warrior" to Christians in spiritual warfare. When we were sharing
some of the newsletters with people in our home church, one WWII veteran
friend had a problem with the title. He explained what Bushido meant
when he served in the Pacific Theatre. With careful prayer and
consideration, we decided that Bushido was not compatible with our
Christian faith. Our instructor was urged to change the name, but he
didn't see the problem. We do not use it nor many of the names and
symbols from traditional martial arts because of doing our homework.
That does not mean we are perfect. We could be carrying along a few
"graven images" without realizing it. But God knows our hearts and will
bless our efforts to clean house. How is your house today?
1 The World Religions by Huston Smith. Copyright 1991 by Huston Smith.
Published by Harper Collins Publishing Company. p.p. 201, 214.
2 Chuck Sullivan. Karate Connection video series. Copyright .
3 Religion: A Preface 2nd Edition by Wilson and Clark. Published by Prentice Hall, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ.
4 Invasion of Foreign Gods by David Jeremiah, copyright 1995.
copyrighted 1999 Charlaine Engelhardt, 2014, 2015 Charlaine Martin. all rights reserved