Christianity and the Martial Arts, pt 6

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What about bowing at my instructors alter?

Or the Pictures at the front of our school?

This issue has brought up the ire of more than one instructor.

In an effort to create a traditional environment many schools have set up their own little alters. When students come in to begin class they are asked to pay homage to the alter. Bowing.

The difficulty comes for Christians not wanting to offend their instructor and maybe loose their respect. To a hungry student that is scary prospect. “If I don’t bow He might stop teaching me” “What if he makes fun of me.”

Is bowing before statue of “Buddha” or “dragons” or “incense” really that bad?

As a believer in Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, we know that a statue is a statue and that there is only one TRUE God.

The question is “Why would you want to bow before a false god or idol? (1)

  • We are not as Christians to have anything between God and us. (2)
    •  Idols of any type, graven images, money, family, or even the martial arts.
  • Those around us that know we are Christians take our actions as “gospel“(3). If we give credence to idols then we have given them permission to continue in their folly. Possibly to their eternal damnation.

We are told not to fear man BUT to fear God. When we start to have more fear of man’s opinions (4) than God’s Truth, (5) we start to compromise His truth.

Yes but what’s a little compromise here in there?


Any quick study of the Israelite history(6) will turn up a simple pattern.

  • They would follow the Lord for a while.
  • Then they would listen to themselves and their neighbors.
  • Then they would go their own just compromising a little bit.
  • Then they would go the way of their new masters.
  • God would allow them to have the fruit of their desire. (usually captivity)
  • Years would pass, in bondage,
  • Then they would suddenly start following God again.
  • Freedom would be given after they repented to the “One True God”.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Our God is the great “I am” that is who we bow down to. I have been reamed for not bowing and am still here. You may get reamed for not bowing, you will survive and your faith will be stronger.

It’s an interesting thing, when the Holy Spirit is stirring our hearts on issue, God has already worked out the outcome. All we have to do is moved upon the stirring.

Don’t be afraid to go to your instructor and explain your concerns and feelings about bowing.

When we go to anyone with an issue of faith it’s wise to approach them as Paul did the Athenians. Acts 17:22 “Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.”

He was respectful of their beliefs (as misguided as they were) and then he explained where he was coming from as a follower of Christ Jesus. He didn’t call them “pagans” or “heathens” but “religious” men. Paul was respectful and yet uncompromising. He told them the truth, as we should do.

Bowing before The Founders Picture

This brings us to another bowing issue. Many schools start class with a bow to the pictures of the systems founders or instructors that have passed away. There are a lot of schools that start and finish class this way and in all truth what they are doing is taking a moment to say “thank you” and acknowledge their systems heritage.

Is it wrong?

I don’t believe so. Bowing is a sign of respect or allegiance. I would greatly respect the efforts of any system founder. Would I worship them? NO.

What is the difference between bowing to “an alter” and bowing to a picture?

  1. Buddha: Gave great advances to the Buddhist religion in China. His actual Martial contribution was small. 8 pieces of Brocade, Muscle Change and some rudimentary movements. But mostly —Buddhism. Bowing to a statue of Buddh

is to say you follow, honor and agree with his teachings. As a follower of Jesus as the only way to the Father why would you choose to agree with teaching that lead away from Jesus and the Father. — more on that later.

  • Incense alters are for praying to our dead ancestors for guidance and intersession. This is a two fold point.
  • The illustration in Lk. 16:22-30 (7) very clearly shows that the dead are not able to intercede for the living nor are they able to help or guide.
  • Jesus Himself tells us that we as followers are able to go directly to the Father.(8) Why, because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, (9) and the Holy Spirit is the councilor sent by God. (10) What he says is what He hears from God. The job of a councilor (parecleet) is to give guidance and wisdom. Gosh, it appears that we already have everything that we are suppose to receive from that dead in the LIVING so why would we want to give credence to the fallacy of the dead giving guidance?
  • Bowing before the picture of a system founder: The acknowledgment of the work and effort that was put into developing an entire martial system is a reasonable. In effect to say “thanks” for not keeping this style a secret but passing it on so I would have the chance to learn it.

We bow to our instructors before and after class to show our respect for their knowledge and training. We give them our allegiance as students. If I am not willing to, then I should not be in his class in the first place.

Do I follow his gods? No. No more than Daniel, Meshack, Shadrach and Abebnego (read the first few chapters of Daniel) would follow the gods of Nebuchadnezzer. But they still showed due respect to his authority. By the way to understand respect for authority better read 1st and 2nd Peter. (Way at the back of the Bible)

So in conclusion: Bowing to “false gods and idols” —–BAD!   

                            Bowing to “founders”—–ok

                            Bowing to “Instructor”——-Good.


May the Lord bless you and your house hold.

John Roche

Foot Notes:

(1)”1 Corinthians 8:4 Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many, and lords many; 6 yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.

(2)    “Exodus 20:1 And God spake all these words, saying, 2 I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve  them, for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon  the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me, 6 and showing lovingkindness unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”

(3)    “1 Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to the weak. 10 For if a man see thee who hast knowledge sitting at meat in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through thy knowledge he that is weak perisheth, the brother for whose sake Christ died.”

(4)    “Mathew 11:28(a) And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul”

(5)    Mathew 11:28(b)but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

(6)    ” Luke 16:19 Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day: 20 and a certain beggar named Lazarus was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table; yea, even the dogs come and licked  his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. 23 And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted and thou  art in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us. 27 And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house; 28 for I have five brethren;  that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 But Abraham saith, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent. 31And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead.”

(7)    “John 16:26 In that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father.”

(8)    John 14:15 If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.”

(9)    ” John 14:26 But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.”

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