There are numerous health benefits to practicing martial arts. Different types can help improve flexibility, concentration, coordination, determination, and mental and physical stamina. These elements are great for our bodies and minds, and they help us to feel more confident in who we are. The practice of martial arts, through challenging growth and practice, can lead to many positive outcomes for life.
At the same time, we as Christians must be cautious about the activities in which we get involved. The word “martial” itself means something that is related to or suited for war. War will not be practiced in God’s Kingdom.
Oftentimes when it comes to martial arts, there is a reference to a discipline and ancient systems of philosophical development. This development of physical, mental and spiritual awareness comes through energy by increasing one’s “chi.” Chi is believed to be the life force or energy present in all things. It is thought those elements transcend to a higher level of life.
It is also thought that through this discipline, the five earthly elements of fire, earth, metal, water and wood are intertwined with our lives. All of this together is supposed to determine the state of balance and equilibrium within the body. Some use this as a form of nature worship, which a Christian should not do. There are many references in the Bible warning us of the dangers of creating idols. Deuteronomy 12:4 says, “you shall not worship the Lord your God with such things.” This is referencing how others mixed those beliefs with worshiping the true God. He is specific in how we should honor Him.
It would be advantageous when evaluating appropriateness to consider whether martial arts are being used as a means to refine physical fitness and technique, or as a search for peace and balance. We must be cautious of being influenced by philosophies associated with non-biblical spiritual origins. Therefore, there are times we must avoid participating in such activities. The best way to understand God is through the pages of His Bible.
In addition, not all types of martial arts are the same. Some are more aggressive, while others are more defensive. Aggressive forms of martial arts designed to injure or kill an opponent, perhaps like kung fu, should be approached with caution. Other forms that focus on self-defense may be less problematic. But these decisions ultimately are between you and God—as a personal decision before your Creator—who values all life.