Tae Yun Kim on the Intersection of Martial Arts and Religion

In the fall of 2012, some parents in California became so incensed about the yoga classes their children were taking in school that they threatened to file suit. For these parents, the martial arts mean more than simple exercise and fitness. They believe that the marital arts indoctrinate students into a specific form of Eastern religion, and they want to protect their children from this influence. We asked Grandmaster Dr. Tae Yun Kim, one of the leading martial arts experts in the world, to weigh in on this idea and provide her opinion on the claims these parents might be making.

According to Grandmaster Dr. Tae Yun Kim, many of the movements used in traditional martial arts courses do have their roots in early religious culture. Some of the names of yoga movements refer to sacred beings, and some martial arts teachers encourage students to consider the concept of “oneness,” which is crucial to an understanding of Buddhism. However, Grandmaster Dr. Tae Yun Kim says, these aspects don’t make martial arts incompatible with Western religions.

Grandmaster Dr. Tae Yun Kim is an ardent Christian, and she believes that the martial arts support her Christianity perfectly. The movements allow her to experience inner peace and feel compassion for others, and these are feelings any Christian could support. Additionally, participating in any form of physical exercise honors the work that the Lord did, and that’s something any religious person can understand.

While Grandmaster Dr. Tae Yun Kim respects the separation of church and state, and she understands why parents might be upset at these courses, she hopes that the parents will learn more about the martial arts. Perhaps they’ll see that their concerns are a bit misplaced.


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