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Old 10-14-2012, 11:39 AM   #1
aiki-jujutsuka
 
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A Christian perspective on Budo

This thread is not about 'preaching' or about whether it is right for Christians to practice Aikido; but rather to look at the relationship between Christianity and the martial arts. It is designed to create dialogue and open-mindedness. The blog below was inspired by an article I read on aikidojournal.com regarding Aikido and religion.

http://myjujutsujourney.blogspot.co....e-on-budo.html

I welcome discussion and comments
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Old 10-14-2012, 04:21 PM   #2
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Sorry I don't think I explained the purpose of my blog effectively. Really I'm asking the questions of whether Christianity can benefit from embracing the martial arts, whether Chivalry is anachronistic or relevant? What Christianity can learn from Budo.
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Old 10-15-2012, 03:23 PM   #3
Diana Frese
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

First of all, thanks for sharing your blog! We are very busy with work and stuff at home, but I am thinking about the points you made and will answer soon. For now, just to say it's good you posted and I hope to read others' comments too and that they post them soon.....
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Old 10-16-2012, 06:15 AM   #4
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I look forward to your extended comments
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:56 PM   #5
Diana Frese
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Hi Ewen,

I waited to write a comment because your blog entry brings up so many interesting points. Although I learned about Christianity as a child, after high school I stopped attending because in college a sort of new world opened up. Religion there seemed to be in the form of social action, in the large building called Cornell United Religious Work. Perhaps in a simile to "my Father's house has many mansions" in that building there were many doors to offices of the various denominations of Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, possibly even other world religions. Whether or not there were offices of world religions like Buddhism and Islam, there was a One World Club where people from as varied countries as the Philippines, Ghana, India, and those of South America could get together, often for dinners featuring the cuisines of a different country each time, and also many cultural programs. An important social concern at the time was the American civil rights movement, and the offices lent their mimeograph machines for flyers and posters announcing a local march in Ithaca, and a bus trip to Washington before the historic, larger march where we were accommodated in people's homes and listened to a talk by Hubert Humphrey saying they were doing the best they could within the government!

So, no I didn't attend church for about thirty years except visiting my parents. Even when I moved back from living in NYC I only attended occasionally. For many of us, Christianity was not easy to understand, although there were many books available, like those of Reinhold Niebuhr, Bonhoeffer, Bishop John A.T. Robinson, I barely had a chance to read around, having to keep up with the courses I was taking. Judaism was more accessible in the seventies because many inspiring books were being published, especially those about the mystic rabbis of European Chasidism. We went to the concerts of Shlomo Carlebach, who had his late father's synagogue in the West 70's but who traveled to California to get the youth there "high on music"

But enough about me! This is just to explain why I didn't learn very much about Christianity as an adult until one of my brothers needed rides to church. I along with our older brother was looking after him after our parents passed away in a car crash. Mom had many books which I read around in. The priest they knew gave beautiful, inspiring, even poetic sermons which I liked, but it was only after my own car lost its transmission and I was offered rides to church when I could no longer run errands for my carpenter husband, that I started learning in detail from the Lutheran pastor who took over. It is hard to describe the freedom where we are told the story and encouraged to find our own meaning. I don't mean to give the wrong idea, the sermons tell the story and encourage us to see where it has relevance in our own lives.

I felt I needed to give an explanation why I didn't really study Christianity until rather late in life. At one point, I might have actually known more about Shinto, since I studied in Japan and one of my teachers came to the U.S. and wrote a book which combines the themes of O Sensei's teaching, ecological concerns of the modern era, and the meaning of samurai as one who protects. The theme of stopping the spear was taught to us in Japan, before our teacher emigrated to the United States. At first he said he intended to stay in Japan to teach students about the importance of caring for the environment, but then he found that Americans were receptive to the ideas which he had developed from O Sensei's teaching.

Sorry for the long background on me, but I wanted to let you know where I am coming from. The first point I noticed in your blog entry was Shinto Pantheism and it might help for me to quote Ichihashi Sensei of the Aikikai Hombu, when I was with our tour group in the early seventies. He said," People say that Shinto has many gods. But it is One God, the others are Hataraki."

Hataraki seems to translate as "Works" as in the phrase "And marvelous are Thy Works" I don't remember even what chapter of the Bible, but I never forgot the phrase. And the verb hataraku, is the same as when we go to our jobs and work there. I never forgot Ichihashi Sensei's explanation of Shinto, though many other people kindly taught many things about it.

I remember a quote from one of the Japanese "New Religions" which are adaptations of Shinto for the modern world and which sometimes include ideas from other religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. The quote, if I remember correctly, was Sekai Enman Kanzen. This quote bothered the lady priest in our local church here who led some discussion groups here before she retired, because she was so conscious of the violence and injustice in today's world.

The word Sekai means world. Kanzen means perfect, and possibly en means round or complete combined with the syllable man, which I think is also found in the word for satisfaction.

However, when I was growing up as an adult (hopefully) I could not help but hear the phrase all around me, "in this imperfect world"

Well, here's hoping I have at least contibuted to opening up the discussion, though I only really mentioned a couple of points.

Please don't take offense, but my background on the Samaritans was that they remained after one of the captivity, possibly Babylonian, and mixed with the idolatrous people in the surrounding areas, so their Judaism was not considered "pure". This was why there was discrimination against them, but it didn't seem to me to make them enemies. Maybe there were feelings of enmity, but I guess the word enemy has a stronger connotation to me than feelings. The way I see the parable, the observant Jews passed on the other side, and the member of an oft-shunned people was the one who showed love for his neighbor and helped him. In this case a man whose ancestors and maybe himself came from Samaria, acted like the true neighbor in that second great commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself. It is an interesting thought, by the way, what he would have done if the assault and robbery had taken place in his presence...

thanks Ewen, I hope at least some of my comments are relevant and that others will add their thoughts. Christianity and martial arts has appeared on Aiki Web on earlier threads, and I hope the discussion will continue on this one too.
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:11 AM   #6
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Hi Diana,

Thank you for your considered and encouraging response; I know Christianity and Aiki have been mentioned before so I was hoping at least some of what I said may add something new to the discussion. Thank you also for explaining your background, I found it very fascinating to see the journey, you yourself have been on.

Regarding your point about Shintoism and pantheism, pantheism is the belief that God is in nature/ the universe. Polytheism is the belief in many gods. I hesitate to use the word polytheism in relation to Eastern religions now as I know that even in Hinduism they would say they believe in one God - Brahman and all other gods are avatars of the one God. From what I have read about O'Sensei and his beliefs, they seem to indicate at least that his Shintoism was pantheistic. However, I am happy to be corrected if someone knows more on this.

For me, the Kingdom of God is to bring moral regeneration to the world, shine light on the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and bring about social justice. Within the Gospel of salvation from sin there is also a social gospel, especially in light of the 'second great commandment' to love thy neighbour as thyself. This is where I think the martial arts can enhance Christians' own walk with God and their ability to love others.
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:12 AM   #7
Diana Frese
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Well, I commented on this topic because it looked interesting and already I got rewarded. Thanks for your kind reply. Though long-winded, I thought it was better to mention my various learning opportunities. Yes, I agree, I think Ichihashi Sensei was referring to people thinking Shinto was polytheistic, whereas pantheism brings to mind a whole array of various cultures who saw "the holy" as omnipresent. In some coffee shop conversations after practice, we heard about the concept of "wake-mitama" as if pieces of God were present throughout nature and within each of us.

This is not far from what many Christian clergy are teaching about the presence of God in all of us, or at least the nearness of God, rather than in some remote Heaven among the planets or beyond them.

I don't claim to be able to explain what is to me a vague reassurance of something that is enough for me for now. I go to the services when I can and absorb what I can of Pastor's sermons for the Bible education and the relevance for our world today. I think the message of Jesus for today is vital, whether it is those words or something similar by some pastor, lama, priest or rabbi I think the importance is that as many people as possible learn these things and spread them however they can. The influence of the martial arts is twofold, spreading the message of improvement of society by raising the consciousness of its people to their true nature as connected to each other spiritually and to manifest this feeling in their actions to the best of their ability and understanding. The second is to give an opportunity for people to gather in a training that improves body and spirit, provides a way to defend oneself and others as humanely as possible depending on circumstances and ability, and to hopefully have some conversations about working together to benefit the community nearby or at a distance from them, to borrow from a thread on the possiblity of martial arts influencing the larger society.

With regard to sin, I think that in Japanese it is called "tsumi". and I think the concept of purification was explained in several discussions that the goal is to accomplish one's own mission in life, and to help others, who may have strayed from their own individual missions in life. There is also a concept which was explained something like the phrase "ha wo migaku" polishing or brushing one's teeth. The sword is also polished, the mirror is also polished, all a similar concept. Life can be a polishing process to improve us. These are some concepts that I have heard applied to the martial arts, sorry if my memory of Japanese language isn't very accurate. I remember talking with the former rector of our parish while my parents were still alive, mentioning my various studies, and he too used the word "journey" as a matter of fact that's where I first heard that concept. It's nice that you used the exact same word!

I'm just adding some ideas I heard about in case you find any of them interesting enough to comment and add something similar or even vaguely related from your own study and belief. Of course, any other points you make on other topics will be eagerly read.
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:06 AM   #8
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

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Diana Frese wrote: View Post

With regard to sin, I think that in Japanese it is called "tsumi". and I think the concept of purification was explained in several discussions that the goal is to accomplish one's own mission in life, and to help others, who may have strayed from their own individual missions in life. There is also a concept which was explained something like the phrase "ha wo migaku" polishing or brushing one's teeth. The sword is also polished, the mirror is also polished, all a similar concept. Life can be a polishing process to improve us. These are some concepts that I have heard applied to the martial arts, sorry if my memory of Japanese language isn't very accurate.
I love the analogy of the polishing process. That is a very apt description and metaphor for the benefits of the martial arts. I often think of the traditional katana making process when I read in Scripture that "our God is a consuming fire". I think about the metal being heated and folded and the process being repeated dozens of times in order to produce a blade of magnificent quality and durability. God purges the dross from our lives so that we are like purified metal. If that process doesn't take place then we are useless or weak and easily broken. Sometimes that process is painful - like the white hot heat of the furnace - but it is ultimately for our good. When I'm at AJJ and a technique is applied and I feel the pain in my joint or body part, I often think about how it is 'good' pain, a pain that produces wisdom and character.

Scripture itself is described as a 'mirror' to the soul (James 1:22-25), by allowing the Scriptures to permeate our lives and change us from within, we will grow in Christ-likeness and godliness. I've heard the analogy been used before for Zen of the moon and the lake. When the lake is still, the moon's light and image can be reflected perfectly off the water. Sometimes I appropriate that analogy for Christ - Jesus is the lake and God is the moon; Jesus is the perfect reflection of God the Father. As we learn about Christ through the Scriptures (and as a Christian I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God), it has presevered unerringly the life and teachings of Jesus. Thus the Scriptures themselves act like the water, to continue the metaphor. As we meditate on the Bible and allow it to act like that mirror in our lives we can permit God to purge the sinful nature and purify us into a closer reflection of Him.

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Old 10-17-2012, 07:40 AM   #9
Diana Frese
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

We have a relatively small congregation here, but it does outreach into the community. Families, groups and individuals have visited Haiti, New Orleans and Africa to help out in various endeavors including school founding and disaster relief. One thread to which I submitted posts said that martial arts people and their dojos should actively help others in society at large. Many do, as part of their own dojo's projects in the community, or as individuals. I think that was my answer or what I intended to answer at some point. Many people interested in martial arts also have strong community involvement, teaching disadvantaged young people at no charge, and major charities enlist the help of dojos for fund raising contests and exhibitions. Combatting cancer may be one, and combatting diabetes is another cause dojos across the country are involved in. A person might offer help as a member of a church or other faith community, or if he or she is not part of one, many dojos offer an opportunity to serve others in that way.

The words faith community offer a broader category than what we heard in past decades, "Churches and synagogues." Churches and synagogues were known for their charitable activities, and as other faiths and their congregations in American communities became larger and better known to their neighbors and fellow townspeople, their community service became better known and the category was widened into "faith community." Real estate listings here often mention proximity to Houses of Worship. It could be ease of modern transportation and accessibility of such means, or it could be actual physical proximity due to the restriction of Orthodox Judaism against traveling by car or other transport on the Sabbath. To refer to your mention of the lake, the Sabbath is an opportunity for the soul as lake to be still to reflect God to follow the beautiful example you cited.

In Buddhism, I seem to remember three tenets, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, which brings me to the topic of community itself. The Dharma, if I remember correctly, is the Way, what a person does in life, specifically, following the way of the Buddha as passed down in Buddhist Scriptures and by its Patriarchs and later leaders . The Sangha, however is the community and is very important in Buddhism though I don't know the specific teachings about it, I know it is very important. Likewise in Judaism and Christianity and many other religions. Our particular church parish was started in the 1940's as a result of gas (petrol) rationing and thus started as a close community of neighbors whose lives were closely linked already or soon became so. I remember down the road from the church was the nursery school (nursery schools here are now called Pre-K, for pre-Kindergarten) where we played in an imitation train made out of boxlike cars made out of wood by locals and I still have a picture of some of my classmates peering out of the windows.

There is a lot a community, large or small, can do, for those nearby or far, whether it is monetary donations for medicine or a traveling clinic somewhere in the nation or the world, or support for a school somewhere, or individuals traveling to be of help to others. The other side of community is to welcome people who come through the doors of the building or who are met during daily activities around town or anywhere get to know them, or simply offer a referral to something of interest or need or just quietly look friendly so the other person feels he or she might be open to a conversation.

There are so many ways to be a good neighbor just to brighten one's day, even if the neighbor is not lying on the ground beaten and bleeding. It is essential to do what one can or call for help in such cases, but we shouldn't neglect the times when, if our soul at the moment is like the quiet lake, we can sense that the other person could use a kind word or a smile to brighten his or her day.

One of the phrases I learned from a book on Aikido my judo teacher had lent me when I was in college was "produce and protect all beings in Nature' I'm not sure if a Japanese phrase I later heard is its translation, but it seems to be an interesting paraphrase of concepts of Shinto that O Sensei stated in his own way. This fascinated me in the 1960's and I found the general background of O Sensei's beliefs plus the practice in the dojo, which I loved and gave me a chance to approach what I felt to be the closest thing to flying that people are able to do, led me to stay with the dojo for many years.

It was also great to be part of the group. In those days, there were actors studying movement for the stage, a retired police officer, a brewer from New Jersey who was still teaching Aikido after he moved to Florida. There was a picture on the website announcing his eightieth birthday. Many dojo are warm hearted communities doing serious martial arts practice. Good for the body, good for the mind and good for the spirit.

Well, I got carried away by the examples. I hope you find them relevant to your topics

Last edited by Diana Frese : 10-17-2012 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:10 AM   #10
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Quote:
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There is a lot a community, large or small, can do, for those nearby or far, whether it is monetary donations for medicine or a traveling clinic somewhere in the nation or the world, or support for a school somewhere, or individuals traveling to be of help to others. The other side of community is to welcome people who come through the doors of the building or who are met during daily activities around town or anywhere get to know them, or simply offer a referral to something of interest or need or just quietly look friendly so the other person feels he or she might be open to a conversation.

There are so many ways to be a good neighbor just to brighten one's day, even if the neighbor is not lying on the ground beaten and bleeding. It is essential to do what one can or call for help in such cases, but we shouldn't neglect the times when, if our soul at the moment is like the quiet lake, we can sense that the other person could use a kind word or a smile to brighten his or her day.
Precisely! Very well said.

I think it is so important that the Church is a pillar of the local community, while at the same time having a global perspective. The size of your congregation seems to bely the size of its heart. I congratulate what your church is doing in the community and around the world . I too am involved in a community project through my church and it is so great to be a part of what I call 'grass roots Christianity'.

Whether I have the opportunity and the fortune of using my martial arts to help the community, only time will tell; none of us know the future, but certainly I think the martial arts have a lot to give to the community and I will continue to train as long as I can with the hope of giving back one day.
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:16 AM   #11
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
This thread is not about 'preaching' or about whether it is right for Christians to practice Aikido; but rather to look at the relationship between Christianity and the martial arts. It is designed to create dialogue and open-mindedness. The blog below was inspired by an article I read on aikidojournal.com regarding Aikido and religion.

http://myjujutsujourney.blogspot.co....e-on-budo.html

I welcome discussion and comments
How good is it to discuss this issue. I am 10 year practicing aikido and have just passed entering exams to Orthodox "high school" to become a priest. This issue for us, Slavic, ukrainians, russians and others aikido/budo practitioners , is very essential . Taking into account disputes about the role of church in modern life for youngsters at one hand and rocketing interest in budo arts I examine the points budo arts have common and contradiction with Christianity.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:53 AM   #12
Diana Frese
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Hello Konstantin!

Thanks for joining the discussion. I hope you will continue. I would very much like to read your ideas and beliefs.

Our town (actually city) is a little over 100,000 in population but we have diverse churches and other faith communities. We have a Ukranian seminary, but I think it is Catholic rather than Orthodox.
Someday I would like to visit the museum there or attend one of the fall festivals. Many groups here have sales and food events, some with folklore like dancing and costumes.

In the next neighborhood there is St. Mary's Russian Orthodox Church. A friend of our family made pirogies for us when I was a child. She was Polish, but attended the Russian Orthodox church when it was located downtown, before it moved to a more suburban location where there was more space for it. I have been to their "Troika Fair" three or more times. Once I brought my friend from Long Island who had worked in the library here and attended the Aikido class I taught at the local YMCA before she moved back to Long Island. She visits when she can, so I invited her to the fair.

Another time I brought my brother and we ate pirogies, just like when I was a child. Less than two weeks ago a friend from our Episcopal Church was driving me back from working on her garden and eagerly agreed to stop at the Troika Fair. Lunch was over, but she bought a cake and some holiday plates and I bought a couple of books. They didn't have much advertising this year so I decided to help them advertise next year. With something that good, you want to share it with as many people as possible.

Anyway, Konstantin, please keep writing. I just added some information on our local communities you might find interesting. But I am eager to read what you and Ewen and hopefully, others write on this fascinating topic of the relationship between budo and Christianity. Especially since you are studying to be a priest. We are lucky to have you joining the discussion.

thanks again, Diana
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Old 11-11-2012, 04:55 AM   #13
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Thank you Konstantin for joining the discussion, I would love to hear what you made of the points in my blog.

Diana I have some new ideas for another blog but I want to allow them to germinate before I write it.
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:55 AM   #14
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Thank you for sharing this interesting blog!

Personally I think that O Sensei was right - Aikido can complete and enrich a religion.

Accept for perhaps the rituals in a catholic or orthodox church I do not see much of a link between Christianity and medieval knighthood. I think that much of the chivalry and traditions of that time has gone lost. I do know of two martial arts that do not have an Eastern background, but a Christian background; Systema and Shintaido. As far as I understand it Systema does seem to make an historical connection with the medieval knights.

In all times and in every culture the path of a warrior has always been a spiritual path. So why would this be any different for Christians?

The way you describe your faith seems to be very much in line with O Sensei's teachings and also with that of his spiritual teacher Onisaburu Deguchi.

And I agree with what you say about the martial arts; it is not just about learning to fight and I agree with what you say about the goal of the martial artist.

But it is my observation that martial arts in general over time have become more aggressive, more violent and less spiritual. It is the more common image that films an t.v. shows us. And I see it in many dojo as well. The emphasis is on results, physical strength and on winning. Might is right seems to have become a Budo-rule.

Although I know of several dojo that have a sincere and committed community, Aikido in general is not a great example of a way to build a constructive community. It is more about politics and gaining power. We can even see a reflection of this here on this forum.

It seems difficult enough for a traditional Aikido dojo to explain the real purpose of Aikido - would it not even become more difficult when you start teaching Aikido or another Budo to a Christian community that as its core has a teaching of love, peace, community, gratitude, hope,?

Any thoughts about this?

Thanks for starting this thread!

Tom
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Old 11-11-2012, 12:13 PM   #15
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Quote:
Diana Frese wrote: View Post
Well, I commented on this topic because it looked interesting and already I got rewarded. Thanks for your kind reply. Though long-winded, I thought it was better to mention my various learning opportunities. Yes, I agree, I think Ichihashi Sensei was referring to people thinking Shinto was polytheistic, whereas pantheism brings to mind a whole array of various cultures who saw "the holy" as omnipresent. In some coffee shop conversations after practice, we heard about the concept of "wake-mitama" as if pieces of God were present throughout nature and within each of us.

This is not far from what many Christian clergy are teaching about the presence of God in all of us, or at least the nearness of God, rather than in some remote Heaven among the planets or beyond them.

I don't claim to be able to explain what is to me a vague reassurance of something that is enough for me for now. I go to the services when I can and absorb what I can of Pastor's sermons for the Bible education and the relevance for our world today. I think the message of Jesus for today is vital, whether it is those words or something similar by some pastor, lama, priest or rabbi I think the importance is that as many people as possible learn these things and spread them however they can. The influence of the martial arts is twofold, spreading the message of improvement of society by raising the consciousness of its people to their true nature as connected to each other spiritually and to manifest this feeling in their actions to the best of their ability and understanding. The second is to give an opportunity for people to gather in a training that improves body and spirit, provides a way to defend oneself and others as humanely as possible depending on circumstances and ability, and to hopefully have some conversations about working together to benefit the community nearby or at a distance from them, to borrow from a thread on the possiblity of martial arts influencing the larger society.

With regard to sin, I think that in Japanese it is called "tsumi". and I think the concept of purification was explained in several discussions that the goal is to accomplish one's own mission in life, and to help others, who may have strayed from their own individual missions in life. There is also a concept which was explained something like the phrase "ha wo migaku" polishing or brushing one's teeth. The sword is also polished, the mirror is also polished, all a similar concept. Life can be a polishing process to improve us. These are some concepts that I have heard applied to the martial arts, sorry if my memory of Japanese language isn't very accurate. I remember talking with the former rector of our parish while my parents were still alive, mentioning my various studies, and he too used the word "journey" as a matter of fact that's where I first heard that concept. It's nice that you used the exact same word!

I'm just adding some ideas I heard about in case you find any of them interesting enough to comment and add something similar or even vaguely related from your own study and belief. Of course, any other points you make on other topics will be eagerly read.
I think that that is one of the main differences between Christianity and Shinto - Christianity has the concept of original sin, Shinto does not. Things that go wrong or that one does wrong are considered kegare - dust. It is possible to get rid of it by cleaning (harai misogi). I think that Christians tend to carry it with them as a form of guilt. What really struck me when I started practicing Aikido was that O Sensei said that Aikido was a form of misogi.
But perhaps we could see being baptized as a form of misogi?

Tom
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Old 11-11-2012, 12:15 PM   #16
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

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Konstantin Yevchenko wrote: View Post
How good is it to discuss this issue. I am 10 year practicing aikido and have just passed entering exams to Orthodox "high school" to become a priest. This issue for us, Slavic, ukrainians, russians and others aikido/budo practitioners , is very essential . Taking into account disputes about the role of church in modern life for youngsters at one hand and rocketing interest in budo arts I examine the points budo arts have common and contradiction with Christianity.
It would be interesting to hear more about these commonalities and contradictions?

Tom
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Old 11-11-2012, 12:44 PM   #17
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

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Diana Frese wrote: View Post
We have a relatively small congregation here, but it does outreach into the community. Families, groups and individuals have visited Haiti, New Orleans and Africa to help out in various endeavors including school founding and disaster relief. One thread to which I submitted posts said that martial arts people and their dojos should actively help others in society at large. Many do, as part of their own dojo's projects in the community, or as individuals. I think that was my answer or what I intended to answer at some point. Many people interested in martial arts also have strong community involvement, teaching disadvantaged young people at no charge, and major charities enlist the help of dojos for fund raising contests and exhibitions. Combatting cancer may be one, and combatting diabetes is another cause dojos across the country are involved in. A person might offer help as a member of a church or other faith community, or if he or she is not part of one, many dojos offer an opportunity to serve others in that way.

The words faith community offer a broader category than what we heard in past decades, "Churches and synagogues." Churches and synagogues were known for their charitable activities, and as other faiths and their congregations in American communities became larger and better known to their neighbors and fellow townspeople, their community service became better known and the category was widened into "faith community." Real estate listings here often mention proximity to Houses of Worship. It could be ease of modern transportation and accessibility of such means, or it could be actual physical proximity due to the restriction of Orthodox Judaism against traveling by car or other transport on the Sabbath. To refer to your mention of the lake, the Sabbath is an opportunity for the soul as lake to be still to reflect God to follow the beautiful example you cited.

In Buddhism, I seem to remember three tenets, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, which brings me to the topic of community itself. The Dharma, if I remember correctly, is the Way, what a person does in life, specifically, following the way of the Buddha as passed down in Buddhist Scriptures and by its Patriarchs and later leaders . The Sangha, however is the community and is very important in Buddhism though I don't know the specific teachings about it, I know it is very important. Likewise in Judaism and Christianity and many other religions. Our particular church parish was started in the 1940's as a result of gas (petrol) rationing and thus started as a close community of neighbors whose lives were closely linked already or soon became so. I remember down the road from the church was the nursery school (nursery schools here are now called Pre-K, for pre-Kindergarten) where we played in an imitation train made out of boxlike cars made out of wood by locals and I still have a picture of some of my classmates peering out of the windows.

There is a lot a community, large or small, can do, for those nearby or far, whether it is monetary donations for medicine or a traveling clinic somewhere in the nation or the world, or support for a school somewhere, or individuals traveling to be of help to others. The other side of community is to welcome people who come through the doors of the building or who are met during daily activities around town or anywhere get to know them, or simply offer a referral to something of interest or need or just quietly look friendly so the other person feels he or she might be open to a conversation.

There are so many ways to be a good neighbor just to brighten one's day, even if the neighbor is not lying on the ground beaten and bleeding. It is essential to do what one can or call for help in such cases, but we shouldn't neglect the times when, if our soul at the moment is like the quiet lake, we can sense that the other person could use a kind word or a smile to brighten his or her day.

One of the phrases I learned from a book on Aikido my judo teacher had lent me when I was in college was "produce and protect all beings in Nature' I'm not sure if a Japanese phrase I later heard is its translation, but it seems to be an interesting paraphrase of concepts of Shinto that O Sensei stated in his own way. This fascinated me in the 1960's and I found the general background of O Sensei's beliefs plus the practice in the dojo, which I loved and gave me a chance to approach what I felt to be the closest thing to flying that people are able to do, led me to stay with the dojo for many years.

It was also great to be part of the group. In those days, there were actors studying movement for the stage, a retired police officer, a brewer from New Jersey who was still teaching Aikido after he moved to Florida. There was a picture on the website announcing his eightieth birthday. Many dojo are warm hearted communities doing serious martial arts practice. Good for the body, good for the mind and good for the spirit.

Well, I got carried away by the examples. I hope you find them relevant to your topics
Good points ! Your post reflects a nice positive attitude - gassho. Thank you.
Tom
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Old 11-11-2012, 04:38 PM   #18
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

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Tom Verhoeven wrote: View Post
Thank you for sharing this interesting blog!

Personally I think that O Sensei was right - Aikido can complete and enrich a religion.

Accept for perhaps the rituals in a catholic or orthodox church I do not see much of a link between Christianity and medieval knighthood. I think that much of the chivalry and traditions of that time has gone lost. I do know of two martial arts that do not have an Eastern background, but a Christian background; Systema and Shintaido. As far as I understand it Systema does seem to make an historical connection with the medieval knights.

In all times and in every culture the path of a warrior has always been a spiritual path. So why would this be any different for Christians?

The way you describe your faith seems to be very much in line with O Sensei's teachings and also with that of his spiritual teacher Onisaburu Deguchi.

And I agree with what you say about the martial arts; it is not just about learning to fight and I agree with what you say about the goal of the martial artist.

But it is my observation that martial arts in general over time have become more aggressive, more violent and less spiritual. It is the more common image that films an t.v. shows us. And I see it in many dojo as well. The emphasis is on results, physical strength and on winning. Might is right seems to have become a Budo-rule.

Although I know of several dojo that have a sincere and committed community, Aikido in general is not a great example of a way to build a constructive community. It is more about politics and gaining power. We can even see a reflection of this here on this forum.

It seems difficult enough for a traditional Aikido dojo to explain the real purpose of Aikido - would it not even become more difficult when you start teaching Aikido or another Budo to a Christian community that as its core has a teaching of love, peace, community, gratitude, hope,?

Any thoughts about this?

Thanks for starting this thread!

Tom
Thank you Tom for joining the discussion and your positive feedback to my blog . I agree with you that Christianity has disconnected and lost its link to chivalry, for good or for bad. There are probably various historical factors that have influenced this. In many respects Chivalry was a very medieval answer to a very medieval problem. Nevertheless as a Christian martial artist and a 'student' (I use the term loosely) of Budo I find learning about how medieval knights married their faith with their profession very insightful and inspirational.

I also agree with you that the path of the warrior is a spiritual path. As martial artists our character is cultivated through training, like the polishing metaphor discussed by Diana. It is a path of self-discipline and moral cultivation. However, as you mentioned in your reply to one of Diana's posts there is no concept of original sin in Shinto so therefore Christianity does struggle to reconcile the worldview imbued in Budo by the spiritual world of ancient Japan. Conversely, this does not mean Christianity and budo are incompatible. There is great synergy to be gained from allowing budo to enrich religion.

I think the violence of martial arts has been emphasized in recent times due to the popularity and success of the conversion of bujutsu/budo into sport. Sport naturally involves competition and in combat sports this means that physical strength, agility and speed become the core components of a successful fighter. These are external factors rather than internal and therefore the art becomes reduced to the competition between two fighters on a physical level. When sport becomes profitable from a commercial viewpoint such as MMA and the UFC then the rules of the sport are adapted to make the sport more 'entertaining'. When entertainment becomes the primary goal of the sport then the spiritual path of the warrior is sacrificed for the more primordial gratification of seeing controlled violence.

Just out of interest would you mind elaborating on how the way I describe my faith is in line with Ueshiba & Deguchi's?
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:18 PM   #19
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

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Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
Thank you Tom for joining the discussion and your positive feedback to my blog . I agree with you that Christianity has disconnected and lost its link to chivalry, for good or for bad. There are probably various historical factors that have influenced this. In many respects Chivalry was a very medieval answer to a very medieval problem. Nevertheless as a Christian martial artist and a 'student' (I use the term loosely) of Budo I find learning about how medieval knights married their faith with their profession very insightful and inspirational.

I also agree with you that the path of the warrior is a spiritual path. As martial artists our character is cultivated through training, like the polishing metaphor discussed by Diana. It is a path of self-discipline and moral cultivation. However, as you mentioned in your reply to one of Diana's posts there is no concept of original sin in Shinto so therefore Christianity does struggle to reconcile the worldview imbued in Budo by the spiritual world of ancient Japan. Conversely, this does not mean Christianity and budo are incompatible. There is great synergy to be gained from allowing budo to enrich religion.

I think the violence of martial arts has been emphasized in recent times due to the popularity and success of the conversion of bujutsu/budo into sport. Sport naturally involves competition and in combat sports this means that physical strength, agility and speed become the core components of a successful fighter. These are external factors rather than internal and therefore the art becomes reduced to the competition between two fighters on a physical level. When sport becomes profitable from a commercial viewpoint such as MMA and the UFC then the rules of the sport are adapted to make the sport more 'entertaining'. When entertainment becomes the primary goal of the sport then the spiritual path of the warrior is sacrificed for the more primordial gratification of seeing controlled violence.

Just out of interest would you mind elaborating on how the way I describe my faith is in line with Ueshiba & Deguchi's?
Hello Ewen,
I do not know where you live, but in the Auvergne where I live much of the history of the medieval period still can be seen. Some of the castles are being restored, cathedrals and churches from the middle ages can be visited and there are several medieval festivals each year. Some of the crusades started here in the Auvergne. And one of the most important saints for the knights as well as for the commoners was Mary Magdalen - there are still yearly pilgrimages to honor her.

Just as you I have always been interested about history, especially the medieval period, and the connection of martia arts and the spiritual or religious path. And you are right, it is insightful and inspiring to get into.

As for your request to elaborate:
The impression that I got (but please correct if I am wrong) was that you are open-minded to other Christian approaches and even other religions. In Japan there is not much controversy between the different religions. People are often followers of Shinto as well as of Buddhism and of Christian faith.

The main Shinto shrines that O Sensei would visit for prayer and offerings are Kongen taisha - shrines dedicated to Kami and to Buddha. The enshrined Kami there are considered an avatara for a Buddha.

It is from this point of view not strange to see that the Omoto kyo teachings of Deguchi emphasizes oneness of all good religions. In this vision the kami Sukuna Hiko, associated with koto-dama (sacred words, love) became the god of the Jews and the Christians.

O Sensei followed this line of thinking, so students who wondered if they needed to follow his religion were told that there was no need to. There own religion would offer them all they needed if they searched for it, as all religion have one source; kami sama (or the void).

For me the study and keiko of misogi, koto dama, meditation and other aspects of Shinto have, since I came across it now more then thirty years ago, been an essential part of practicing Aikido.

I hope this sort of answers your question?

Best wishes from the Auvergne,

Tom

http://aikido-auvergne-kumano.blogspot.fr/
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:11 PM   #20
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

thank you for elaborating Tom and I'm sure the Auvergne has a very special medieval atmosphere in its architecture and history. I come from England so we have a rich medieval history too but there are not many stunning remnants of medieval England where I live.

I've read similar things about O'Sensei's 'universal' approach to religion and Aikido and in the context of Budo I agree that people from all religious backgrounds can find their own spiritual lessons and expressions without having to convert or adopt a particular religion.

I am open minded to other religions inasmuch as I believe there is much to be gained from inter-faith dialogue. I was the representative for all inter-faith events for my Christian Union at university. I do not believe in universalism personally but I do believe that there is One God of the universe who desires to be universally known. In relation to Budo I do believe Christianity can learn from Eastern religion as our own martial traditions have past into antiquity.
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Old 11-13-2012, 09:55 AM   #21
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

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Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
Sorry I don't think I explained the purpose of my blog effectively. Really I'm asking the questions of whether Christianity can benefit from embracing the martial arts, whether Chivalry is anachronistic or relevant? What Christianity can learn from Budo.
Hi Ewan,
I've hesitated to post because I'm not very well studied and I don't identify myself as a Christian, per se, but I do love what I understand of Christ and identify with the principles I believe He represents.
In the sense that Chivalry sought to realize noble qualities in positions of power (the nobility), I think it's still relevant. That it pertained to a warrior class and encouraged them to care for those who needed it fits pretty neatly with what I like about budo...or at least what little I understand of it.
Obviously Christ's actions were to help those who were in need (including some who were considered unsavory by society at large), but His advice to the wealthy man to give away his property seems to suggest a broader application of this altruistic principle. To me it seems to point to an emphasis on personal development through austere personal discipline (shugyo) for the sake of both the self AND others. Because of this I can see how Budo and Christian practices might inform each other pretty nicely.
Thank you for the chance to consider these noble ideas more deeply!
Take care,
Matthew

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 11-13-2012, 11:04 AM   #22
Lorel Latorilla
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

I don't see myself as doing budo but bujutsu. Reason being is that budo is a politically charged word and connotes forms of Japanese nationalism. I dont have time to do it out now but Steve Morris wrote an interesting article about Japanese budo and its links to nationalism.

Bujutsu is helpful insofar as it has potential to open you up to learning the secrets of Christianity. Since "in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him." (Colossians 1:16), an earnest and humble pursuit of bujutsu will eventually lead one to the truth of Jesus Christ. In my experience, by learning bujutsu, it made me open up my mind in that I was able to appreciate Christianity on a much deeper level. But this is not limited to bujutsu--anyone who is on the path of learning (it can be learning a language, learning quantum physics, etc.) can, so long as he doesn't allow the successes of his learning get to his head, be rewarded and blessed by a revelation of the supremacy of Jesus Christ, and God's love through him; being genuinely and deeply curious about something--in this case bujutsu--points to a deeper aspect about mankind's desire to know (or have a revelation) of God. I do take Jesus's words "seek and ye shall find" words seriously.

However, bujutsu must be put in perspective--as a "tool" for self-development, bujutsu is ultimately limited and potentially dangerous to the spirit. Christianity teaches that we "die" to the self or live in faith as though the "self" has been crucified with Christ. That is to say, there is no such thing as "self-development"--there is only the self dying, and Christ living. So to put it into perspective--bujutsu is not a means to "develop" the self, for the self is dead (in faith). Bujutsu is only a means to prime us for the revelation that there is no self, but a oneness-relationship with God through the Son living in us.

Hope that makes sense.

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Old 11-13-2012, 11:50 AM   #23
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Here are some links;

http://stevemorris.livejournal.com/75616.html
http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_abe_0600.htm

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Old 11-13-2012, 12:23 PM   #24
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Hi Matthew & Lorel thank you for joining the discussion. Both of you raise some very good points. I never knew Budo had connotations of Japanese nationalism! Does Bushido bear the same connotations?

I agree with you that bujutsu is a tool for self-development insofar as it can lead us to a revelation of Jesus, however, in my blog I was trying to recorrect various Christian stereotypes that martial arts promote violence. I too believe budo can be potentially spiritually dangerous, which may be a subject for another blog. My blog was not an exhaustive or comprehensive look at budo/bujutsu. It was some initial reflections and questions to challenge and get people thinking. There is still more to come!
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Old 11-13-2012, 12:31 PM   #25
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Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

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Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
Hi Matthew & Lorel thank you for joining the discussion. Both of you raise some very good points. I never knew Budo had connotations of Japanese nationalism! Does Bushido bear the same connotations?

I agree with you that bujutsu is a tool for self-development insofar as it can lead us to a revelation of Jesus, however, in my blog I was trying to recorrect various Christian stereotypes that martial arts promote violence. I too believe budo can be potentially spiritually dangerous, which may be a subject for another blog. My blog was not an exhaustive or comprehensive look at budo/bujutsu. It was some initial reflections and questions to challenge and get people thinking. There is still more to come!
Hi Ewen,

Sorry for the thread drift. When I see "Christian perspective on Budo", it just raises alarm bells for me because of what I know about "Budo" as a tool for "self-development". Maybe if you termed it "Christian perspective of martial arts" then I would be less wary. But yeah, I think it is silly for some Christians to think that martial arts violence, or even the fact that Jesus himself condemns violence (he does not...heck he is coming back to judge the nations for attacking Israel and the saints--us Christians--and it will be done through righteous violence! Righteous, but violence nonetheless!)

p.s.--I don't believe in "self development" ... development of self just leads to development of the sinful constitution in all of us...not good

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