I have a question and I have not found the answer to it and I want very much to know if what I do is in accordance with the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since childhood, my grandmother, God rest her in peace, taught me to pray to God, for which I am grateful and will be grateful until I close my eyes, too. Through the prayers I learned from her, our Lord Jesus Christ and God helped me to come home healthy from the revolution in 1989 from Bucharest (where I was in the military service) and I received help when He was the only one in whom I could hope. I am an instructor of Aikido, a fighting art or to say it more modern, a Japanese martial art. We fight without actually destroying or wounding the partner. But there is a habit in Aikido to welcome the place where the photo of the inventor of this art is placed at the beginning and end of training. Many times I do this greeting to maestro Morihei Uieshiba feeling a pang of guilt and often I do it unconsciously. I respect him but I do not want to worship something, that is an idol. Please help me with an advice. Here in Romania I asked someone, but I got only this reply that: “If you say that you do not hurt anyone, then it is fine!” I expect a response from you.
God definitely prohibits to worship idols
The first two of the 10 commandments that make up the core teaching of God say:
You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:3-6)(NASB)
Someone could say that you do not worship an idol, because you don’t worship Morihei Ueshiba as a god, but gratefulness for the martial art that has left after him. However, in my opinion, God’s commandment is very categorical and does not leave open brackets and the instructors should take it into consideration.
Is not this a cult of the dead?
Daily worship at this picture implies more than respect. It turned into a cult of the dead, which is very prevalent in Japan and other countries in Asia. And then, I’m curious, who established this tradition or label element in Aikido? Was it Morihei Ueshiba himself?
Whatever is not from faith is sin
The fact that every time you bow you feel a pang of guilt, is a proof that you do not have freedom of conscience and the very fact it is a sin, as the Scriptures say:
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)(NASB)
From my personal experience
I practice Taekwon-Do for 20 years, I am the holder of 5 Dan black belt and an international category instructor. Some use to make this bow in our art before the picture of the founder Choi Hong Hi when entering the room. From the moment when I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and I knew the Holy Scriptures, I stopped this practice and I taught my disciples this, too. Two of them came back home and through the mercy and help of God they are the winners of the World Championship in Malaysia.
I invite priests and all those practicing martial arts to express on the subject. What do you think? Is it idolatry or not to worship the portrait of the founder of martial art?
Translated by Felicia Rotaru