By Sensei Charlaine (Engelhardt) Martin, 3rd Dan American Stratiotia Christou
July 1999 edited 10/19/2022
In our last article, “Harmonious Living,” we apologize for the delay (we were in the middle of moving). I promised to cover the concept of Ch’i since this permeates the martial arts and is part of the doctrine of the Yin Yang. This concept is confusing for Christians and is not compatible with Christian Faith. We rely on God alone for all things.
What is Ch’i?
Chi, or Qi, is an energy force that is in everything in the universe, according to those who believe in Taoism and Buddhism. This energy supposedly comes from the Tao, from which all things come and receive their existence. The Chi center of the body is believed to sit just below the navel of a human being. When Chi is balanced, then one is healthy and vibrant. But when Chi is unbalanced, one is ill and needs healing. The Yin Yang comes into this with the understanding of balance and harmony. When an imbalance occurs, then the balance must be restored. Chi can be from the personal, societal, natural, and universal levels. There is a rather complicated belief system around Chi, but it is easier to keep it simple for the purpose of this article.
How You Might See the Concept of Ch’i Used
In martial arts, most of the Chi concept is personal. When someone is injured, there are detailed charts to follow for pressure point healing to restore the flow of Chi which is acupressure. Acupuncture works similarly. Reflexology is a diagnostic process by flexing areas of the body at points where the practitioner can activate the reflexes, checking the flow of Chi to find the source of the “blockage.” Iridology, another diagnostic process, inspects the eye’s iris to find out what the ailment is. These ancient healing methods have been practiced in Asian medicine for hundreds of years. The newest twist to this you may recognize in advertisements: magnetic therapy. The magnets are supposed to restore the balance of Chi and bring healing to the injured area. Copper bracelets are similar to American Indian lore. Some methods of healing using Ch’i are even more mystical and magical such as visualizing toxic energy draining from an injured area while placing the left hand on the injury and holding the right hand outward from the person. Then the healer places the right hand on the person and imagines circulating positive energy back into the person to restore balance. Balancing Chi is considered extremely important to stay healthy and vital for the martial artist who lives the Eastern way.
Another way martial artists use the concept of Chi is in meditation from a universal perspective. Transcendental meditation and yoga are the main methods. In mainline Buddhism, the practitioner works off karma through meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi to reach enlightenment. Karma is either good or bad works that one accumulates. Tai Chi is based on Qigong, balancing Chi (building good karma), although there are recreational groups that teach it to older people for exercise purposes only. When one feels harmony and peace through meditation, he has also helped restore balance in nature. Particular posturing to keep Ch’i flowing freely is considered essential. Zen Buddhism uses the concept of Chi a bit differently. When in combat, the martial artist will strive to knock the opponent’s Chi out of balance to win the match. Dim Mak uses Ch’i to disrupt the Ch’i of the opponent to kill him or to disrupt the Ch’i of breaking material instead of simply using physical force to make the break how and where it is desired. Dim Mak seems to come from a Zen influence. Although Zen also seeks to find peace and harmony, it is much more physical in nature rather than contemplative.
Who Practices Ch’i?
Many New Agers have Taoism, traditional Buddhism, and pantheistic religions as the basis of their belief systems. New Age treats religions as a smorgasbord: pick what works for you, and leave behind what does not serve you. Chi has a central focal point that threads many New Age groups together. They all practice meditation from an Eastern religious source and want to restore harmony in nature. They also practice many of the healing arts described previously. Their ultimate goal is to bring balance and reach Enlightenment, Or Nirvana.
Why The Concept of Ch’i Has No Foundation
But is there a reality to the concept of Chi? Do the healing methods work? There is energy in everything. We have learned that from science since around 3rd grade. There is energy in motion (kinetic energy) and energy at rest (potential energy). We are electrochemical in nature. Human beings produce a weak electrical charge. The neurons send electrochemical messages across the synapses in our nervous system responsible for the activity, thought, life support function, etc. Have you ever experimented with lighting a light bulb with a potato? All planets, moons, stars, and other celestial bodies have some form of gravitational pull. Whenever these forces are out of balance, then problems crop up. Could this be what ancient Chinese call Chi? Maybe. However, there is not tremendous scientific support for the healing practices to work in the manner practiced in ancient Eastern religions. Many modern acupuncturists deaden nerve centers to disrupt information being sent to the brain about pain to an injury. Some believe that the nerve networks line up with the meridian lines for acupuncture. This is not restoring balance but disrupting the message system God set in place as a warning system. It is used for people with arthritis, shingles victims, and those with constant unbearable pain. There also is no real convincing evidence that magnets work to restore healing. The iron in our blood may or may not be attracted to the magnet, promoting healing. But could it also cause damage?
We also have interdependence with all creation, whether ocean tides, the placement, and gravity of various planets, moons, the sun, or the animal kingdom. What happens with one affects other parts of our environment. Ecological systems, if you will. When something dies out, then the food chain is affected. If the Earth shifted too much, we could have frigid winters too harsh to stand or scorching heat that would evaporate life. There is such a delicate balance. But is there one central force responsible for balancing everything, such as Ch’i?
Where Christians Place Trust
For Christians, the Bible is the source to which we turn so we might see God’s view. We believe it to be God’s revelation of Himself to us. According to God’s Word, all things were created by God. He is very involved with creation. He spoke all things into existence and sustains all things, including our lives. (Colossians 1:15-17; Genesis 1:1-31) It is by His power that everything exists and operates. He set up the systems that govern our lives. God is not some impersonal force into which we are absorbed, but rather a Being who desires a relationship with His creation. He knows all things before they happen. He works through the events of history to work His perfect plan, regardless of what we decide to do. (Psalm 139:1-18; I John 3:20)
We trust in God for our healing. He has set up a healing system for us. Our blood clots form scabs, so we don’t bleed to death. Our skin can seal up after cuts and scrapes. We can slow down our heart rates to keep ourselves from hyperventilating. Our nerves alert us to danger or tell us we have been injured. Only God gives us the ability to do anything we do:
- Healing through medical means.
- Ministering to those who need help.
- Using the spiritual gifts that come only through the Holy Spirit (Spirit of God).
- The talents we use in our vocations, including the ability to perform in martial arts.
No one does anything apart from God or without His knowledge and permission. (Exodus 3:11-12; Psalm 92:9-10; Philippians 4:13) Only Christians receive an extraordinary power from the Holy Spirit, whose primary purpose is to glorify God and not man. (Romans 12; 6-8; I Corinthians 12:4-30; James 1:17) Non-Christians do not receive this sort of thing from God. They cannot please God because they do not have faith in the One He sent to bring them into a relationship with Him. Without faith, no one can please God. (Hebrews 11:6) Things like the Dim Mak death touch are not from God. God is not the source of destruction. Satan is. Satan gives power that is a poor imitation to those who do miracles or healings not consistent with the character of God (Exodus 7:10-13). Why would we draw upon anything not from God?
We caution people not to throw out the possible validity of alternative healings but to scrutinize them. We do not believe in Ch’i, but there may be some scientific evidence of some alternative medical practices that work. On the other hand, it may be a case like the meat sacrificed to idols in I Corinthians 14-33. Many holistic health practices are used in doctors’ offices and hospitals that have worked. This is all well and good. But if you believe it to be a stumbling block to your faith in Christ, I would encourage you to stay away from it. I consider it suspect if there is no reasonable scientific principle behind the practice.
What is proven scientifically is part of God’s revelation of Himself to us. God’s work, power, and existence can be seen in His creation. Electrochemical systems cannot be disrupted nor reconnected apart from the pre-set systems God has set in place. Our time to die is known only truly by Him. When we die, we come before Him for judgment. Those named in the Book of Life will live eternally with God and Christ. Those not in the Lamb’s Book of Life will die in the Lake of Fire with Satan and his demons, a second death. (Revelation 20:10-22:5) It seems that Christians have a win-win situation. Where do you stand?
Note: This post is from Faith Fighters for Christ’s website, which no longer exists. I wrote this article to help Christians in martial arts be able to maneuver through Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu teachings in martial arts classes. But also for Christian instructors as they set up their own martial arts ministries to “redeem” their arts.
Black Belt Magazine April 1996 issue, “The Magic Power of Ch’i” by Mark Wasson.
Black Belt Magazine October 1997 issue. “Chi Kung: Kung Fu’s Magic Method for Healing Injuries” by Linda J. Woodward.
Body Works CD-Rom “Acupuncture” by Softkey Multimedia, Inc. Copyright 1994.
Creation Science Research Institute general information on biblical creation.
Invasion of Other Gods by David Jeremiah. Word Publishing copyright 1995. Chapter 8.
The New Open Bible NKJV by Zondervan Press.
Copyrighted 1999 all rights reserved.
Used with permission from Charlaine Martin.