Are Christians free to participate in the martial arts? Some say no because of the Eastern mystical origins of the martial arts. Others disagree. What is a biblical approach to this subject?

CHRISTIAN MARTIAL ARTS- Inseparable from Eastern Religion
It is clear that some martial art forms cannot be divorced from their Eastern origins. For example, Aikido, Ninjitsu, and Tai Chi depend heavily upon a force called “ki” (or “chi”) which supposedly pervades the whole universe. Since Christians worship one God who created the universe, and do not believe in this universal “chi” force, it becomes difficult — if not impossible — to reconcile these martial art forms with Christianity.

But other martial art forms — such as Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, and Tae Kwon Do — can be divorced from Eastern mysticism with little or no damage to the physical techniques involved.

CHRISTIAN MARTIAL ARTS- Depends on the Instructor
The question of whether a Christian can be involved with one of the martial arts that can be reconciled with Christianity depends primarily upon his instructor. If the instructor promotes an Eastern mystic philosophy, then Christians should avoid that particular school altogether. However, if the instructor divorces the physical techniques of the martial art from the Eastern philosophy behind it, then the Christian may rightly participate. Christians should keep the following principles in mind in making a decision.

First, because of its controversial nature, Christians should be careful not to cause weaker brothers to stumble by practicing any martial art (Rom. 14). Second, Christians must avoid the temptation to pick fights if they do learn self-defense. This temptation is especially prevalent among youths who desire to learn a martial art. Third, Christians should avoid becoming a victim to the consuming commitment involved with such disciplines. They should not allow the martial arts to get in the way of their commitments to the Lord and their church (Heb. 10:25). Finally, Christians should pray and examine their conscience before making the decision to get involved with the martial arts. On the martial arts, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.