Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


9 Comments

Taekwondo and the Martial Arts: Mere Exercise or Trojan Horse??

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

I was personally involved in Martial Arts, Karate in particular, for a number of years between the period of 1971 to 1991.  My enthusiasm for martial arts even led me to successfully recruit other Christians to join me.  Through the prayer ministry of the group Wholeness Through Christ, I chose to renounce my previous involvement in the martial arts.  Previously, I was opposed to some of my friends dabbling in community centre yoga, but had rationalized my involvement in the martial arts as something innocuous.

In the spring of 1999, my sons discussed with me the expectation that they would take part in Taekwondo as part of their Christian school gym class.  In discussing our concerns with their principal, it was agreed that my sons would be exempted from this expectation.  It was also agreed that I would do some research regarding our concerns about Taekwondo, and present my findings in a paper to the principal and the school board.

As a renewal-oriented Anglican, I believe that it is vital that the charismatic gift of discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10) not be neglected in this neo-gnostic, confused age.  As part of the discernment process, I carefully researched dozens of pro-martial arts books, with a special emphasis on taekwondo books.  I also consulted extensively with a good number of taekwondo and Martial Arts instructors from North America and around the world.  My research led me to believe that taekwondo and the Martial Arts (MA) are far more than just physical gym exercises.  Rather Taekwondo and MA are Zen Buddhist meditational techniques designed to bring a person into the experience of satori or Buddhist enlightenment.[1]  As Buddhism essentially is reformed Hinduism, so too the Martial Arts are essentially Martial Yoga.  Few westerners have enough experience with Zen Buddhism to initially notice the hidden religious nature of martial arts.  Chuck Norris, famous for his role as Walker on the TV show Texas Ranger, holds unreservedly that ‘the ancient system of Zen (is) the core philosophy behind the martial arts.’[2]  It is no coincidence that the occult circular symbol of Ying-Yang constantly appears on even many innocuous-looking Taekwondo websites and brochures.[3] One of the goals of Taekwondo and other martial arts is to enter a zazen meditational state so that ‘the everyday experience of the dualism of subject and object vanishes.’[4]

In the Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs , John Ankerberg and John Weldon state that “Because most (martial arts) methods incorporate eastern teaching and techniques, the martial arts are easy doorways into Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and other non-Christian religions.”[5]  They went on to comment that “Traditionally, martial arts are forms of spiritual education that function as means towards self-realization or self-enlightenment.  It is true that the spiritual dimension of martial arts can be downplayed or ignored, but that is not consistent with their ultimate purpose historically.”[6]

Taekwondo and other martial arts can be traced to a 6th century Buddhist monk Bodhidharma who travelled from India to China and established Zen Buddhism at the Shaolin temple of Ko San So Rim.  There he taught them both sitting meditation and the martial arts (moving meditation) to enable his disciples to free themselves from all conscious control in order to attain enlightenment.[7]

Since Taekwondo’s Olympic debut in 1988, its popularity has spread like wildfire across the world.[8] Taekwondo means ‘ Hand (Tae) and Foot (kwon) Way (do).  According to the official WTF Taekwondo book, Taekwondo ‘is now the national sport of Korea.’[9]  Eddie Ferrie holds that ‘every child in (Korean) school is compelled to practise Taekwondo…’[10]  David Mitchell notes that Taekwondo ‘is taught to all members of the Korean armed forces’.[11]  It is estimated that 20 –30 million people worldwide now have been initiated into Taekwondo.[12]

One of the major concerns by Christian researchers is the sitting meditation commonly done in Taekwondo and most Martial Arts.  The Fighting Back Taekwondo book describes the Chung Shin Tomil or sitting meditation as ‘another essential part of your taekwondo training’.[13] “Before and after any taekwondo class, the students meditate…first, you may be asked to clear your mind of all thought and to relax completely…The 2nd method of meditation is related to visualization.”[14]  Mitchell claims that ‘…the empty mind (is) needed to master taekwondo.’[15]  Key to both Buddhist and Hindu occult meditation is manipulation of one’s breathing, which is described as Hohup chojul and Jiptung (synchronized breathing) in Taekwondo.  In contrast, biblical meditation is meditating on God’s written Word the Bible, rather than meditating on the empty mind by using occult breathing and visualization techniques.

Another area of concern relates to the ritual forms or poomse used in Taekwondo.  The karate equivalent to the poomse is the kata patterns.  As the Taekwondo author and instructor Eddie Ferrie puts it, “Many of the patterns of taekwondo are rooted in semi-mystical Taoist philosophy and their deeper meaning is said to be far more important than the mere performance of a gymnastics series of exercises.  This is not immediately obvious, either when performing or watching the poomse being performed…”[16] The eight Taegeuk poomses performed in taekwondo are derived from the eight triagrams of the occult I’Ching.[17] Richard Chun holds that ‘the forms of Taekwondo…are more than physical exercises: they are vehicles for active meditation.’[18]

One of the most questionable poomse patterns is the Ilyo or Ilyeo poomse.  Ferrie teaches that the “Ilyo is a pattern which has a spiritual orientation containing 24 movements.  The title of the pattern refers to the development of a state of spiritual enlightenment which is one of the ultimate aims of the disciple of taekwondo.  The student who has attained Ilyo is capable of completely spontaneous reaction without any interference from the conscious mind.”[19] I was surprised to find out that the Ilyo poomse is done in the shape of an actual swastika.  Hitler stole this ancient occult symbol from the Buddhists and Hindus who had used it for centuries as a symbol of monism (all is one, and all is God).[20]  The Taekwondo Textbook teaches that ‘The line of poomse symbolizes the Buddhist mark (swastika) in commemoration of Saint Wonho (or Won Hyo), which means a state of perfect selflessness in Buddhism where origin, substance, and service come into congruity.’[21] The Buddhist swastika in Taekwondo ‘teaches that a point, a line, or a circle ends up after all in one.  Therefore the poomse Ilyeo represents the harmonization of spirit and body which is the essence of martial arts.’[22] The swastika in Taekwondo has the occult (i.e. Hidden) purpose of teaching the higher-level students that all is one and all is God.

In conclusion, my research and personal experience has led me to the conviction that Taekwondo and the Martial Arts are not merely physical exercise, but in fact are Zen Buddhist meditational practices, both in their sitting and moving forms.  Taekwondo and MA are a Trojan Horse in the House of the Lord, eroding the spiritual barriers between Zen Buddhism and the Christian Gospel, and potentially leading vulnerable children and teens into the early stages of eastern occultism.  As a result of this research, our Christian School Board decided to no longer offer Taekwondo or other Martial Arts.  The good news about religious syncretism is that it is never too late to repent and start afresh, serving one Master and one Master alone, Jesus Christ our Lord (Matthew 6:24)

 p.s. To explore more about the Yoga connection, click on my article Yoga: more than meets the Eyes?

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada

   -previously published in the February 2,000 Anglicans for Renewal Canada Magazine

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

[2] Chuck Norris, The Secret Power Within: Zen Solutions to Real Problems, Top Kick Productions, 1996, inside cover; ‘…Zen is integral to the Oriental martial arts…(p. 23)’

[3] Taekwondo Textbook, Oh Sung Publishing Company, Kukkiwon Edition, p. 235; The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Taekwondo, Karen Eden & Keith Yates, Alpha Books, New York, 1998, p. 22

[4] Encyclopedia Brittanica, 15th Edition, ‘Martial Arts’, p. 886

[5] John Ankerberg & John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House, 1996, Oregon, p. 351

[6] Ankerberg and Weldon, Op. Cit., p. 356

[7] Richard Chun, Tae Kwon Do: The Korean Martial Art, Toronto, 1976, p. 2

[8] Fighting Back: Taekwondo for Women, YH Park Publications, 1993, p. 8

[9] David Mitchell, Official WTF Taekwondo, Antler Books, London, 1986, back cover

[10] Eddie Ferrie, , Taekwondo: Traditional Art and Modern Sport, The Crowford Press, UK, 1989, p. 101

[11] Mitchell, Op. Cit., p. 9

[12] J.S. Eldon, Essential Taekwondo Patterns, Paul Crompton Ltd, London, 1994, p. 5; The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Taekwondo, Op. Cit., p. 18

[13] Fighting Back, Op. Cit., p. 150

[14] Op. Cit., p. 150

[15] Mitchell, Op. Cit., p. 12

[16] Ferrie, Op. Cit., p. 99

[17] Ferrie, Op. Cit., p. 99, p. 100

[18] Chun, Op. Cit., p. 34

[19] Ferrie, Op. Cit., p. 100

[20] Taekwondo Textbook, Op. Cit., p. 235, p. 506

[21] Taekwondo Textbook, Op. Cit., p. 506 “Won Hyo is a 28 movement form or poomse which is named after the 7th century monk who purportedly introduced Zen Buddhism to Korea. (Ferrie, p. 101)”

[22] Ferrie, Op. Cit., p. 506


Leave a comment

Getting back to the Gym

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Researchers have found that 115 million North Americans made health resolutions on  January 1 – promising themselves to quit smoking, eat better, lose weight, or start a serious exercise program. But within 2 months, only about 63% were still keeping their number one New Year’s resolution.  When one checks a year later, health resolution ‘survivors’ are a greatly diminished remnant.

What is it that gives us the motivation to hang in there when we are seeking to become healthy?   I will now have ‘survived’ two decades of consistently going to the gym, at least two times a week.  I have often been tempted to give up and crawl back on my couch.

One of my best motivators has been my dear wife to whom I have been married for 41 years.  She went to the gym many years before I went and often gently encouraged me to come along with her.  My initial impression was that I felt sorry for people who went to weight rooms.  They seemed rather masochistic to me.  Why would they inflict so much pain upon themselves?  I also felt intimidated by the endless variety of equipment with different levers ‘going in a thousand different directions’.  My fear was that if I pressed the wrong lever in the wrong direction, I might end up at the physiotherapist for the next year!

One of my most fun activities now is to work out at the weight room with my wife.  Every time I see her there, I am filled with admiration that she is taking such good care of herself.  I am looking forward to enjoying with my dear wife a healthy, active future fostered by the very weight training that we are both doing right now.

A second motivation for lasting at the gym has been the ‘personal trainer called pain.  Since my being ‘rear-ended’ in a November ’99 car accident, my neck and shoulder muscles have become very fine-tuned to reminding me when I need to work out.  As long as I exercise at least two times a week, my neck is relatively pain-free, my headaches are down by 90%, and my hips and back are remarkably stable.  As a result, my medical costs for physiotherapy and massage therapy are down by more than 80%!

But if I slack off and get too busy, I can feel the area of my former injury tightening up again.  The resulting pain and spasms once again will interfere with my work life, family life, and prayer life.  Chastened and reminded, I trundle back off to the gym, to my new friends who have been wondering what has happened to me.  My personal trainer ‘Pain’ can be a remarkable motivator if I will only listen to it and not just medicate it away.

A third motivator for going for two decadese to the gym has been the spiritual benefits.  Modern day life has all kinds of stresses built right into it.  I have found that the consistent discipline of weight training has deepened my sense of inner peace.  Not only has my pain level dropped; my worry level has dropped as well.  Working out actually helps me ‘let go and let God’.

The YMCA and YWCA were birthed out of the realization that all three parts of us need exercising body, mind, and spirit.  There is anonymity at the gym that lets one silently pray without any one else really noticing.  I have found that there is no better equipment than the stationary bike for truly integrating the merits of physical and spiritual fitness.  Over the last two years, the stationary bike and the Book of Common Prayer have become inseparable for me.

The term ‘exercise’ comes from the Greek word ‘gumnazo’ from which we derive the terms ‘gymnastics’ and ‘gym(nasium)’.  Exercise is helping me become more disciplined, a better disciple of my Lord Jesus Christ.  My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us may become more disciplined in our desires to be healthier in body, mind, and spirit.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


Leave a comment

Jesus at the Gym

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the best things to ever happen to me was when I was rear-ended eleven years ago by a taxi on November 29th 1999.  My body began giving me signals that I couldn’t ignore. In countless ways, my body kept saying  ‘Go to the gym.  Strengthen your neck and back muscles’.  When Dr. Wiggins said the same thing, my procrastination came to an end.  Being assigned to a personal fitness trainer by ICBC, our insurance company, turned the gymnastic equipment from an unfathomable mystery into a set of helpful tools.

One of the weaknesses of my past ‘get fit’ experiences was that I tended to do too much in a short period.  The result was usually that I would injure myself and end up being less than enthusiastic about ‘getting back on board’.  I remember a period when I jogged a mile and a half every day, but didn’t pace myself enough.  Hobbling up the stairs can be very humbling for a dedicated jogger!

What has worked for me is that my personal trainer gave me a set of gradually increasing gymnastic exercises that avoided reinjuring me.  With my neck and shoulder pain significantly reduced, I look forward to going to the local gym. I have learnt that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that I need to do my part in rebuilding that temple.

Ultimately my body does not belong to me.  By working out and getting in shape, I am honouring the true Master of my body.  Because I am made up of body, mind, and spirit, ‘getting fit’ applies to all three areas of body, mind, and spirit.  Rather than letting my stomach be my god (Philippians 3:19), I can learn to offer my body as a living sacrifice to my Lord.

The Good Book says that ‘physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things’.  Sometimes we put so much energy into getting physically fit that we forget about getting spiritually fit.  Prayer, bible reading and church attendance can be seen as forms of Christian calisthenics.  Getting physically or spiritually fit requires far more than good intentions.  We have to discipline ourselves to get off the couch and go for it.  Sometimes we feel too tired to lift weights, walk on the treadmill, or even to read our bible.  But if we wait until we are in the mood, our physical and spiritual lives will take a nose-dive.

The Good Book says that ‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful’.  As I watch my fellow Gym members huffing and puffing, it is easy to see why many people give up before they see lasting results.  The Good Book also says however that perseverance in such discipline will ultimately bear fruit.  Whether at the Rec Centre Gym or at God’s Gym (the local church), ‘hanging in there’ is the key to lasting change.

Some people have the idea that Jesus was a wimp.  The truth is that Jesus was very physically and spiritually fit.  There is no record that Jesus was ever sick.  Jesus worked for many years until the age of 30, doing hard physical labour in his step-father Joseph’s carpenter shop.  While spreading the good news through Israel, Jesus engaged in long-distance walking and mountain hiking.  While cleansing the temple of money-changers and animals, Jesus showed such remarkable physical strength that no one dared stop him.

After his resurrection, Jesus said that he would be with us forever.  He would never leave us or forsake us (even at the gym).  Does Jesus hang around gyms?  The answer is clearly yes.  He is waiting for each of us at our local Rec Centres, waiting to show his love and peace, waiting to encourage us and strengthen us.  My prayer is that each of us will let Jesus be our personal trainer.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD,102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca