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Harmonious Living

***Due to requests for easier accessibility, I have also posted these here from my Wordpress blog site.***

by Sensei Charlaine Engelhardt, 3rd Dan 1999

Christians in 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” process.

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 imagine.

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
We have 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.

The 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?

This 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

According 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).

Many 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?

Ephesians 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 efforts.

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?

Works Cited
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

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