Over the years, I've been asked this question several times. It normally takes the sort of something like this: "Ken, I'm a Christian and I want to study Tai Chi, but I'm worried that it isn't compatible with my Christian beliefs. Is it?"
I need to let you know that I grew up in Southern, conservative, fundamentalist Christian churches. I was once baptized.
I also can tell you very clearly that there is nothing religious about Tai Chi or any other martial art, including boxing, wrestling, fencing, karate, or taekwondo.
Americans are not always good-informed about other cultures, and sometimes they jump to conclusions about things they don't understand. My daughter had a yin-yang sticker on her notebook in junior high school, and a couple of ladies accused her of being Satanic.
My daughter, a thoroughly sweet girl, learned a lot at some point of that time about how ignorant and narrow-minded some human beings can be. Often, but, these human beings are reflecting what they have got heard elsewhere.
Naturally, not all Christians are this way — I've been a member of Methodist churches as an adult that were very tolerant of other views.
There is nothing Satanic about the yin/yang image and thoroughly nothing religious about Tai Chi. You can believe by any means you want from a non secular perspective and still enjoy Tai Chi.
Let's analyse it from one of a kind perspectives. Tai Chi is a martial art. Is there something in Christianity that prevents its members from mastering to defend themselves? I don't understand that being taught by any means like that in Sunday School. There was once loads of fighting in the Old Testament, as I recall. David was once pretty good with weapons. He had to be, to slay Goliath.
Tai Chi is also used for relaxation and moving meditation. Is there something in Christianity that forbids its members from relaxing and calming themselves? Perhaps some of the zealous ones believe as an alternative of calming the mind you need to turn it all over to Jesus. If that works for you that's fine. But there is nothing religious about relaxing, calming, meditating.
Let's analyse chi kung — you don't stand there pondering of Satan or Jesus. You think of your breathing, energy visualization, and calming the mind and body. It's very restful and replenishes your system rather like taking a nap. There is nothing religious about taking a nap.
Some human beings — when meditating — attempt to feel a connection between themselves and the universe. But here's not in conflict with Christianity, either. If God created the universe, why would you NOT want to be One with it?
There is nothing religious about that but I suppose if you'd like to, you might perhaps assume that you just are turning out to be One with God.
After the terrorist attacks of sept. 11, I was once at a thoroughly clever fundamentalist Christian's homestead (a relative of mine) watching the news. The anchor was once interviewing a rabbi and a priest. The priest said something that indicated he and the rabbi would meet again in heaven. I grew to turn into to my Christian relative and said, "Jews don't thoroughly believe in heaven, do they?"
This very clever Christian replied, "I don't know what they believe and I don't want to know."
I was once stunned at the willing lack of workmanship — the conscious dismissal of knowledge that would shed light on a one of a kind belief. I believe knowledge is understanding, and drove away from his house that day very disappointed, realizing that he was once not as clever as I formerly thought.
This article was once triggered by something I saw online recently — Christian Tai Chi. It was once designed by someone who believed that they needed to grant up Tai Chi in order to follow Jesus. So as an alternative of giving it up, he modified it to mirror Christianity.
I found out this angle to be tremendously extremist. Would this person feel that bowling ought to be modified to mirror his religion? How about baseball or basketball? A martial art is no one of a kind from any online game — coming from another country does not make it one of a kind. It requires practice to grow physical talents rather like any other online game.
A week or so in the previous, I got yet another email from someone asking if Tai Chi was once compatible along with his Christian beliefs. After seeing the ad and receiving the email, I decided it was once time to write this article.
Tai Chi was once developed in a nation that is predominantly Taoist and Buddhist. Karate was once developed in a non-Christian nation. Taekwondo was once developed in a non-Christian nation. So was once Krav Maga (Jewish). The reality that it was once developed in a non-Christian nation does not make it non-Christian. Fireworks were created in China. I don't know of someone who attends a Fourth of July celebration that avoids watching fireworks because they are anti-Christian, do you?
I've studied Taekwondo and never heard by any means religious mentioned. I know loads of Christians who are deep into karate and it doesn't seem to be an concern at all. They're fine folks and I consider them among my favourite human beings in the international.
In the entire Tai Chi periods I've been through as a student and a teacher, nothing religious has ever been discussed. Only relaxing, calming, and body mechanics to help you grow powerful martial arts.
In reality, the centering aspects of tai chi can help you remain calm in any crisis. Instead of reacting to tension with anger, you can relax and think things through more rationally. I've used this in potentially violent situations and was once capable to "turn the other cheek" to avoid violence.
The bottom line is easy — the next time someone wonders if studying Tai Chi will violate their religious principles, tell them to stop being silly and open their minds to knowledge from other parts of the international. It might just support their lives.