Holistic Health Practices/Part 25

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2008
The martial arts are systems of physical discipline stressing the control of mind and body for self-defense, health, and often, spiritual “enlightenment.”

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What are the martial arts?

The martial arts are systems of physical discipline stressing the control of mind and body for self-defense, health, and often, spiritual “enlightenment.” Different methods have different founders and emphases. The martial arts claim to work by unifying the mind/spirit and body through meditation, physical discipline, and other procedures. This allegedly helps to 1) regulate the flow of mystical energy throughout the body (ki in Japanese; chi in Chinese) and 2) enable one to attain a state of mind-body oneness. Both elements are deemed important to effective performance of self-defense techniques and/or “enlightenment.”

The major problem with the martial arts is that people who attend a martial arts program only for physical purposes may easily be converted to the underlying philosophy of the particular system being practiced. Because most methods incorporate Eastern teachings and techniques, the martial arts constitute an excellent opportunity for conversion to Taoism, Buddhism, and other East Asian religions. Further, some martial arts programs involve occult meditation, development of psychic powers, and even spirit contact (e.g., Somatics, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 48-49).

Because the martial arts or their precursors were originally developed as physical disciplines and only later incorporated the occultism of the East, in practice, the martial arts can be a neutral technique of profound physical development. This is not to say that neutral forms of the martial arts can necessarily be developed in every method; some may be inextricably bound to Eastern theory and practice. Any program having Eastern or occultic beliefs or methods should be avoided.

Further, we should not underestimate the delicate issue when a person is converted from martial arts practice to Christian faith. Such a person may find it essential to forsake all association with his former ways as a requirement to spiritual growth. Also, the modern orientation toward offensive procedures may make the issue of Christian participation problematic. The martial arts are extremely demanding physically. Thus, besides the possibility of occultic influence in Eastern forms, some serious physical hazards (such as head injury) may present themselves by the very nature of martial arts practice. An article in the Taekwondo Times (January 1987, p. 84), “Neurological Disorders in the Martial Arts,” by Dr. Michael Trulson, cautions that “Head injuries are the most commonly ignored serious injuries in the martial arts. Often they are not taken seriously and fatalities occur that could easily have been prevented.”

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