Home » Aikido » Hilarity & Religion, Part 2

Hilarity & Religion, Part 2

There is not so much hilarity here but just a case in point.

I found this article on Yahoo! and it touched a cord with my Aikido practice but just to start things off the Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler released a series of statements stating that Christians who practice Yoga are not true Christians. Here’s a series of quotes from the Associated Press article:

the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine […] is just not Christianity.

The article continues to touch on several points; how yoga has been banned by religious men in other countries (notably Muslim), the increasing number of yoga practitioners in the US specifically, and how some yoga instructors blend their Christian beliefs within their studios. One stated:

My objection (to Mohler’s view) personally is that I feel that yoga enhances a person’s spirituality […] I don’t like to look at religion from a law standpoint but a relationship standpoint, a relationship with Jesus Christ specifically.

The original article can be seen here, as well as the video below.

So what does this have to do with Aikido? My train of thought led me to Aikido’s origins. Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei created Aikido as a combination/hybrid/smorgasbord of his martial and religious experience, namely Daito-Ryu AikiJujitsu and Omoto-Kyo (a neo-Shinto religion). My first two years with Aikido was very martial and hardly had any spirituality in it. My current 2 years has a definite spiritual/mystic/philosophical side to it and it has down wonders for my training.

Perhaps my difference in training is due to the instructors; perhaps my age and experience. On second through I don’t concentrate on these details; this mindset allows me to focus on my training in much more neutral light.

I brought this up because a good number of my acquaintances that are around my age are Christian. I went through a rough patch of my life a couple of years back and attended their church before seriously training in Aikido. I don’t feel that my current experience warrants a meaningful discussion between the pros and cons of training in a martial art and attending church, though perhaps in a few years.

In regards to this as well as the video what I will say is this: It is easy to “combine” things such as yoga and Christianity – the combination of cultures is as old as human civilization . What matters is the mixture is a meaningful and constructive way for the individual. Not the ego, the individual. When I read the shown quote by Albert Mohler, one of the things that popped in my head was that the body is a vehicle of reaching consciousness with the divine – according to Aikido.

Vague much?

4 thoughts on “Hilarity & Religion, Part 2

  1. Some practice Aikido and embrace it as a form of religion. To each there own belief. I do not personally nor do I approach our teaching as such, but rather a philosophical way to aspire to live and engage in life. There are many parallels among the teachings from the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, even similarities among Hinduism, Buddhism, and many others too numerous to mention. How a student or instructor embraces or applies the myriad of principles from Aikido or other Martial system is left to the individual to choose. Can it be a spiritual experience? Yes! Do people embrace it as a form of religion on some level? Yes! Does it make us engage more productively and positively in our society? Yes! Does it teach us how to avoid being an “ass” in a potentially adversarial conflict? I would hope!

    There will forever remain among our society a narrow minded perspective among a small group about what it is we do in the respective martial systems we study.

    I have students of varying faiths that do not see a conflict with what we do or how we teach. The bottom line is your faith is your faith. Anything that helps us live in this unsettled world is a good thing in my opinion.


    • I assume you’ve had to do this lecture before at your dojo? Amen to what you have said!

      The dojo that I train at has a rather homogeneous group in terms of philosophical/political leanings, so this problem has yet to bring itself to our mat. It is however interesting to hear about this outside the dojo’s walls.

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