What is the churches view on karate as a sport or hobby? Can I join a club that might even have an evil dragon sign knowing that I do not care about their philosophy/religion?
His Grace Bishop Youssef:
It is commendable that you are concerned about the choices you have before you. Prayer and asking for spiritual advice is the right track to follow. As a rule, any activity that compromises or diverts you from your spiritual path is not worth traveling.
Involvement in sports is generally a good pastime. Sports can help build teamwork, leadership, and good sportsmanship. Karate is different, in that regard, because it is for the most part an individual sport. To attract and excite customers, some clubs do promote evil logos. It is advised that if this is the sport in which you want to participate, research a facility that does not use negative ads or promotions, neither imposes a particular questionable philosophy.
A background check on the history of karate identifies it mainly as a self-defense sport which does not employ the use weapons. Martial Arts, in general, include disciplines which exercise physical and mental energy as self-defense or relaxation techniques. The purpose of the symbolic use of animals, such as, the dragon, cheetah, snake, etc., stress the methods used by these animals in battle and for survival.
There is some concern regarding this sport when it goes too far. Participants are deceived about their own ability, becoming self-absorbed, self-sufficient, self-confident, self-reliant, and independent of God. Rather than imitating the gentleness and meekness of Christ, the angels that praise Him, and the saints who trusted in Him, they resort to the tactics of animals. See the real inner strength of the Three Youth (The Book of Daniel) who had the greatest confidence in God. You, too, can be more like them.
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king…’” (Daniel 3:16-17). “Look! He answered, ‘I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God’” (Daniel 3:25).