Should religion and politics be brought into the Dojo?
This is my response and opinion to a group discussion post - Sensei Domi
Politics and religion are strange bedfellows. They provide reasons and purpose for living. Some argue that Christian beliefs should be incorporated in martial arts training and take it further by branding their school with names like Christian Martial Arts Academy or City Christian Karate or Kung Fu Christians. Other schools will promote political leaders by having them speak in classes and ask for donations and / or party line support. When I first took martial arts, I did not expect religion nor politics to be part of training; however, with that said, in some of my classes I was influenced by powerful philosophies. Some of you old enough who lived in San Francisco during the 1960’s and 1970’s may have been fortunate enough to attend late Master Richard Kim’s classes. Between our four hour classes, he would lecture us on bushido and related ideologies, philosophical to the point of being religious and indirectly political. In no way did I ever hear him speak line and verse from the bible nor criticize community leaders or government for its problems, but he did make references about nature, the universe, and how this world turns with or without our (human) intervention or involvement. The following is a short clip from one of his classes that were jam packed with students not because of his traditional training methods (Shorinji Ryo Zen Bei Butokokai - which by the way were ridiculously long, hard and challenging) but for his lectures. It was not uncommon to see students pull out notepads from their sweat soaked gis and take notes when he spoke. In my opinion, this is the only way spiritual and political statements can be introduced in a dojo.