Are martial arts okay for catholics?


#1

My brother-in-law has recently taken up martial arts training. I’ve been wondering if this is acceptable for catholics. Most martial arts stem from Eastern religions. In some martial arts such as Tai Chi(sp?) there is emphasis on focusing energy, which sounds like new age beliefs. Any help would be appreciated.


#2

[quote=arky]My brother-in-law has recently taken up martial arts training. I’ve been wondering if this is acceptable for catholics. Most martial arts stem from Eastern religions. In some martial arts such as Tai Chi(sp?) there is emphasis on focusing energy, which sounds like new age beliefs. Any help would be appreciated.
[/quote]

Focusing of energy? I do that everytime I drive my car, go jogging, play basketball, etc. Hardly a “new age” thing, I would think.


#3

Actually, most martial arts are just that: arts of war. Whatever Eastern spirituality that has been put into them is generally not central to the actual training.

A great example is Jujitsu, which originated in Japan but has spread to the world via Brazil and the Gracie family. Many of its dedicated practitioners are Brazilian Catholics. You can find Eastern philosophy in almost anything, but the raw physical training is purely physical.

Tai Chi is a bit unique in this regard because its normal practice is directly tied to Taoist philosphy, but again that is a matter of adding spiritual meanings to the movements rather than making movements out of spiritual meanings. Given its nature, however, I’d bet you’re very unlikely to find “non-denominational” Tai Chi.

On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Muay Thai, which has some spiritual trappings, but those trappings are really more equivalent to Irish boxers doing the sign of the cross before a bout. Muay Thai is the very definition of a martial art. It is designed with one purpose in mind, and that is to utterly devestate your opponent. Even the “entertainment” uses of the sport are ridiculously brutal and bloody, and an argument could be made that it violates Catholic morality not because of any Eastern spritual elements, but because its improper use is extremely deadly. I’ve watched Muay Thai fights at bars in Thailand, and even the 3-minute-limit matches almost always ended in a knockout.


#4

There’s a difference between religious discipline and physical discipline. Martials arts is fine for the body. I think I see what you are asking, and the martial arts I have done have been purely physical in nature (as well as mental and physical discipline, but no spirituality or anything).

Eamon


#5

[quote=arky]Most martial arts stem from Eastern religions. In some martial arts such as Tai Chi(sp?) there is emphasis on focusing energy, which sounds like new age beliefs…
[/quote]

Martial arts originated in the East, yes, but usually had nothing to do with religion. A handful of extremists have tried to tack on the “new age” stuff, but they deviate pretty far from the norm.

I hold black belts in two different styles, spent several years teaching martial arts, and cross-trained in quite a few styles, so I’ve been able to sample much of what the martial arts world has to offer in America. In truth, martial arts is an excellent discipline and has a tendency to help people better themselves in all aspects of life. It’s been a huge key to my own personal growth, and I would encourage any adult who is interested to give it a try.

The concept of “Chi,” or “energy,” has nothing to do with the spiritual. It’s a mind-body thing only. In fact, not even the “meditation” that some martial artists practice (very few, indeed) is spiritual, usually. It’s more of a mental focus exercise. No sin in that, unless something else is added to it, which almost never happens.


#6

Even though many martial arts may originally have connections with Eastern spirituality, they aren’t necessarily taught that way. I study two styles of martial art, one of them Tai Chi Chuan, and neither is taught with any focus whatsoever on Eastern sprituality or religion. Even in the Tai Chi class, the teaching (including any focusing of energy) is purely physical training.


#7

Tae Kwon Do was taught to the Korean soldiers for war… i have my black belt in it… i see nothing that would be against Catholicism other than maybe overly hurting some one… but that is the same with everything


#8

I am kind of big in the martial arts, and I think it is ok for Catholics. I would say that your brother-in-law be careful because some schools are very cultish. I was went to a school that was very much like that. I got out of there in a heart beat.

God Bless


#9

[quote=arky]My brother-in-law has recently taken up martial arts training. I’ve been wondering if this is acceptable for catholics.
[/quote]

Which style is he taking, do you know?


#10

Depends almost entirely on the instructor. An instructor can take even a martial art with little connections to religion and add in the spurious glitter of Eastern mysticism. I studied Aikido, which the founder was heavily influenced by Japanese religion. My instructor left all of that out. Some debate if you can really do that.

Point being, interview the instructor and ask to observe some classes. Get references! You should do this even if you are not worried about the religion aspect because there are a lot of charlatans in the martial arts who simply are not qualified to teach.

Scott


#11

I have been in the martial arts off and on for 20 years. I would only make the comment that he should look into all schools and avoid the ones thay get into any energy talk.I now take brazilian jiu-*jitsu and a sport type of ju-jitsu.Also boxing and wrestling are martial arts.Depending on what he is looking for he should focus on these type.More sport or with a western backround.


#12

I am currently a 4th degree black belt in taekwondo. I have done some training in Tai Chi from Sifu Henry Look. While there is always discussion about focusing energy, etc., I have yet to find anything that I would consider “New Age”. I think martial arts is one of the best sports someone can take up. It teaches SO MUCH MORE than just how to defend oneself!


#13

[quote=surfinpure]I hold black belts in two different styles, spent several years teaching martial arts, and cross-trained in quite a few styles, so I’ve been able to sample much of what the martial arts world has to offer in America. In truth, martial arts is an excellent discipline and has a tendency to help people better themselves in all aspects of life. It’s been a huge key to my own personal growth, and I would encourage any adult who is interested to give it a try.
[/quote]

WHOA! Catholic, martial artist, and good looking! I’m impressed!!!


#14

Most martial arts is great for the mind and body but some can get pretty dicey on the spiritual side. One Buddhist instructor demostrated inviting some sort of spirit to take over his body and he then proceeded to stab himself several times all over with no ill effects whatsoever (I heard about this from a first hand eyewitness.)

Such an instructor would be a big time no-no, not to mention quite creepy. :bigyikes:

wc


#15

As a veteran of 14 years of Japanese Karate and having taught it for several years, I would have to say that one’s religion will affect one’s mindset in training but that there is nothing inherently Eastern in the training aside form courtesy and diligence.

I would point out there were a great many Catholic Samurai and I personally consider my training to be a great asset. Every class that I took and taught began and ended with a few moments of quiet meditation without any religious conotation of any kind. I often told my students that they should use that time to focus on their breathing and bring both their body and mind back to a place of peaceful rest.

The Five Precepts for Learners that were recited at the beginning and end of all my classes are as follows:

  1. Respect and manners
  2. Be prudent in action
  3. Be prudent in speech
  4. Keep high spirited
  5. Keep yourself clean

They are pretty generic, yet are good guidelines for the discipline that we aspire to. Most styles have some such precepts since without them you can find yourself training undisciplined hoodlums and that is considered disgrace to martial artists.

Religion really is more a personal motivator than a martial issue. In fact the “Hagakure”, a book about what makes a good Samurai says that one thing (martial training) should not become two (by mixing it with buddhism or any religion).

In my own life as a Knight of the Immaculata, I see my Samurai training and discipline as now belonging to Our Lord. A Samurai lives every day as if his life is forfeit for his Daimyo (lord). In Jesus I have finally found a Lord who is worthy of that calling. Glory Be To God.
Pax vobiscum,


#16

[quote=Scott Waddell]You should do this even if you are not worried about the religion aspect because there are a lot of charlatans in the martial arts who simply are not qualified to teach.
[/quote]

I have to disagree with you there, Scott. While I have seen a handful of instructors who lack some skill at teaching, I have yet, in thirteen years, to encounter a charlatan.


#17

[quote=tkdnick]WHOA! Catholic, martial artist, and good looking! I’m impressed!!!
[/quote]

LOL. And to think I got married and had kids without even knowing I had a chance with Vin Diesel! :crying:


#18

[quote=surfinpure]LOL. And to think I got married and had kids without even knowing I had a chance with Vin Diesel! :crying:
[/quote]

Sorry!

But hey, if you know any good-looking, Catholic, martial artist who are single, I’m still available. :smiley:


#19

[quote=surfinpure]I have to disagree with you there, Scott. While I have seen a handful of instructors who lack some skill at teaching, I have yet, in thirteen years, to encounter a charlatan.
[/quote]

So anyone who checks out an instructor’s qualifications is foolish and not prudent, correct?

Scott


#20

[quote=Scott Waddell]So anyone who checks out an instructor’s qualifications is foolish and not prudent, correct?
[/quote]

I definitely think you should check out an instructor’s credentials, but I’m with surfin…I have met very few who are “charlatans”. Although, I did used to train under one, so I know they’re out there.

There are plenty of schmucks though…


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