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STATEMENT OF PROTEST BY THE HOLY ORTHODOX METROPOLIS OF GLYFADA AGAINST THE INTRODUCTION OF MARTIAL ARTS IN SCHOOLS

 

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Since it came to our attention that the Ministry of Education has issued an official document[1] whereby it grants an authorisation that permits the introduction of martial arts (Ju-Jitsu in particular) in primary schools throughout the country, we would like to express our vigorous objections on this matter.

Martial arts “are traditionally based upon Eastern philosophies or religions, especially Taoism and Zen Buddhism. JuJitsu, Karate, Kyudo, and Kenpo are strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism”[2]. Moreover, “Buddhist monk Bodhidharma is believed to be the originator of the martial arts”[3]; and, although “many who practice the martial arts do so without an awareness of the religious nature of the sports” the fact of the matter is that “the varieties of fighting styles are united by a spiritual center rooted in Taoism and Buddhism”[4].

“The martial arts all have their origin as part of a total system of training, the ultimate aim of which was a radical transformation of the very being of the practitioner”[5]. And, although this is often overlooked, “their spiritual dimension is the heart of the martial arts”[6]. Richard Schmidt, professor of Physical Education at the University of Nebraska, notes that the Japanese martial arts “are traditionally vehicles for spiritual education and enlightenment” and that, as to underlying ethos, their spirit and beliefs remain fundamentally the same, regardless of particular approach[7].

Furthermore, in the website of the “Greek Sports-Fan Amateur Ju-Jitsu Federation”, which has applied for a licence that would allow it access to schools, we read that Ju-Jitsu “originated in the monasteries of Tibet and became established as the first form of martial arts in Japan” and also that [they] “preserve the traditions and beliefs advocated by [their] martial art”. If that is the case, then how can Orthodox students, as well as those students who do not wish to engage in Buddhist etc. practices, train in Ju-Jitsu − at school, of all places?

It should be stressed that martial arts are not mere fitness exercises, but systems of a philosophical-religious orientation. “Regardless of the fighting style one pursues, the key to all martial arts lies in the skilful use of the universal life force (Chi in Chinese, Qi in Japanese)”[8], i.e. of a metaphysical, “New Age energy that isn᾿t measurable by any known scientific instrument and is outside the bounds of scientific control or study”[9]. Indeed, their metaphysical premise is that “the expert in the martial arts is able to harness the cosmic energy of chi and deprive or empty his or her opponent of the same”[10]. In other words, martial arts are founded in Chi (Qi) energy practices, which are incompatible with the Orthodox faith and life, a fact that has been pointed out in Pan-Orthodox Conferences on matters pertaining to heresies and para-religion. To illustrate the above, we refer to the Conclusions of the 19th Pan-Orthodox Conference of the Delegates of Orthodox Churches and Dioceses on matters pertaining to heresies and para-religion, where emphasis was placed, among others, on “Europeanized forms of Eastern religions and their practices (Yoga, Meditation, Reiki, Reflexology, Tai Chi, types of Chi energy, oriental martial arts etc.), which are being adopted as health and well-being practices by people who are oblivious to the truth”[11].

Therefore, our objection is that, while at schools we witness attempts to dissociate the religious education course from Orthodoxy and to abolish its catechismal nature (thereby depriving Orthodox students of the right to learn their faith), at the same time, there is a “back door” influx of, and indoctrination into, Buddhist and Eastern philosophical-religious systems, like Yoga and the martial arts. “When Orthodox youth engage in such techniques, they unwittingly become initiated into both the theory and practice of Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Shintoism and other religious trends of the pantheism that is prevalent in the Far East countries”[12].

Indeed, it only takes simple reasoning to realise that the martial arts are in direct conflict with the Orthodox Christian message of love. It should be stressed that all kinds of martial arts are incompatible with the spirit of the Gospel, which calls upon us to view others not with a militant mindset, as enemies, but with love, as God᾿s images.

Furthermore, as former martial arts teachers and reliable researchers have indicated, “the manipulation of this energy [Qi or Chi] in the martial arts is frequently indistinguishable from its use in the world of the occult in general”[13]. Here lie the serious risks posed by opening up to the occult. Add to these risks the dampening of the Orthodox spirit, which leads some people to the dangerous syncretic conclusion that Orthodox Christian life can be combined with practices inspired by Eastern religions – a notion that is totally wrong on the one hand and has grave soteriological implications on the other. Let us also mention the following registered risks: the risk of cultivating violence, aggressiveness and selfishness, as well as the dangers that the practice of the martial arts poses for the body, including injuries, physical damage, even serious injuries resulting in death, as well as neurological disorders[14].

In light of all the above, we call upon the body of the Orthodox Church to abstain from any involvement in the martial arts and we expect the competent authorities in the Ministry of Education to take any necessary steps for the immediate revocation of the granted authorisation.

 


 

REFERENCES

[1]. Minist. Decision No F6/1623/213794/D1 30/12/2015.

[2]. Dr Ankerberg, John & Dr Weldon, John, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House Publishers, 1996, p. 354 (emphasis added).

[3]. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Cults, Sects and World Religions, Zondervan, 2006, p. 420.

[4]. Ibid.

[5]. Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, op.cit., p. 356.

[6]. Ibid. (emphasis added).

[7]. Ibid.

[8]. Rev. Bishop Christophoros Tsiakkas, Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religions and Sects, Holy Monastery of Trooditissa Publ., Cyprus, 2002, p. 810.

[9]. Carroll R.T., The Skeptic᾽s Dictionary, Wiley, 2003, p. 119.

[10]. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Cults, Sects and World Religions, op.cit., p. 290.

[11]. From the Conclusions of the 19th Pan-Orthodox Conference, 2007.

[12]. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religions and Sects, op.cit., p. 814.

[13]. Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, op.cit., p. 360 (emphasis added).

[14]. Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, op.cit., pp. 367-368, 374-377 (emphasis added).

 


 

 

 

(Source: http://www.imglyfadas.gr/portal/gr/details.asp?cdPro={ADD367E2-7F1D-4F49-A44A-FE8C298C6828})

 

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