Christian Martial Arts?

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Is it possible to have a Christian Martial Art?

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  • No
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Eagles Corps Karate

www.canaanbaptistchurch.net
www.canaanbaptistchurch.net

Is “Christian Martial Art” an Oxymoron?

           I have been interested in martial arts, for self defense and entertainment, since I was a kid.  This is the experience of many young men growing up in America during the last fifty years.  With the TV shows “Green Hornet” and then “Kung Fu,” America fell in love with oriental martial arts.  As I was growing up, Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris were icons.  They were heroes to every young man aspiring to be a “real man.”

          In this culture, I grew up thinking that the Far East was where all real martial arts came from.  If it was not from China, Japan, or Okinawa, it was not real martial arts.  Of course, that is not true, but it was the cultural conception.

          Now, if you have grown up with conservative Christianity in you life, you have also heard someone say, “Martial Arts are evil because they are based on false religions.”  This statement is based on the premise that Martial Arts can be religious.  This is a premise that I agree with.  But that does not mean that all martial arts are evil.  While some martial arts are based on false religions, some even based on satanic beliefs, not all are.

          In America these days, there are large groups of people that want to secularize everything, from martial arts to government, from entertainment to holidays (holy days).  While this is their goal, it is not possible to entirely divorce anything from the philosophy behind it. 

          It is clear that the Eastern martial arts are closely intertwined with their oriental religions of origin.  The vestiges of pagan ancestor worship, reincarnation, and perfection through the unity of opposites (Tao) are all still to be found in the oriental martial arts, even as they are taught here in America.

          The orient, however, does not have a monopoly on martial arts.  Martial arts are as old as man.  Man did not start in China, but in the Middle East.  Martial arts did not start in China; they were in the Middle East first.  Every culture has had some type of martial arts.  (Did you know about the Bowie knife martial art in America?)  Nor does the past have a monopoly on martial arts.  Martial arts are still being developed and changed.  While there is nothing new under the sun, there are martial arts still being developed based on new philosophy or theology.

 

History Question

Where did the Martial Arts originate?

  • China
  • Korea
  • Okinawa
  • Middle East
  • Africa
  • Somewhere else.
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Dr. Randy Young

Doc Young, Grand Master
Doc Young, Grand Master | Source

Perfect Break!

Three ten inch boards, one Reverse Sliding Side Kick.
Three ten inch boards, one Reverse Sliding Side Kick.

Christ: The Heart of Cha Yun Do

I cannot speak authoritatively about every martial art out there in the world. I have trained formally in only one martial art, Cha Yun Do. I know what it does and why. But I have had many opportunities to compare that to other martial arts.

Cha Yun Do was made by an American, Randy Young. Cha Yun Do is copyrighted and registered with the Copyright Office of United States of America. You can see his HubPages articles at: http://docyoung.hubpages.com/

The credentials for the Art of Cha Yun Do are as follows: The Christian Martial Arts Fellowship teaches and has taught the Art of Cha Yun Do exclusively since it beginning in 1989. It is recognized and sanctioned by:


• Christian Sokeship Federation

• United States Martial Arts Association

• USMA International Board of Martial Arts Masters

Cha Yun Do is copyrighted and registered with the Copyright Office of United States of America is the exclusive property of Randolph A. Young.

Cha Yun Do has a Korean heritage. It is an American martial art. Yet it uses Korean terminology in respect of its origins. There are reasons for this. It gives people an experience in another culture. It also recognizes that Dr. Young relied on some formalities he learned in some Korean martial arts to formulate his American art. Plus, some people feel like it is more “karate like” if there is the foreign terminology.

I know Dr. Young personally. He is a Christian and started Cha Yun Do because he was tired of the influence of Eastern Mysticism he was forced to deal with in other arts. He was very accomplished in several disciplines. He decided to take what he knew from his martial arts training, law enforcement experience, and his Christianity and formulate a new American martial art.

Dr. Young wanted to have something that was fundamentally basic to the way that God made us. So, his guiding philosophy was if it is based on natural motions of the body, this would produce the most power and speed for the technique. There are many martial arts that are not very natural to the human body. We can do them, but they often cause long term issues that will manifest themselves in the practitioner later in life. There are arts that a young person can do, but as they age they have to stop because of the joint or nerve damage done.

“Cha Yun Do” means the “natural way” or “natural art.” So, the motions in this system are designed to follow the natural motions of the body. These motions are not only safer than the techniques of some other types of karate, but in fact they strengthen the body, increase agility, and add flexibility. Some arts use jerky motions that force the joints of the body to absorb force that is not necessary. This can cause problems in the joints.

Cha Yun Do is useful for those that have challenges in their joints and ligaments. The young and elderly alike find this system healthful for their bodies.

Most important is that this is a Christian Martial Art. This art was designed from the very beginning to be based on Christian philosophy and world view. There is no non Biblical mysticism here. At my Cha Yun Do school, you will find prayer requests and prayer before every Eagles Corps Class. There is also Scripture memorization and recitation. We strive for a Christian spirit of community and brotherly love.

While we all pray that we never have to defend ourselves or our families, Eagles Corps Karate (my school) and Cha Yun Do give us tools if God ever calls on us to do so.

Religious Question.

Is there ever a time that a Christian should fight?

  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Not sure.
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What is the Impact of Christianity on Martial Arts?

What I am about to relate to you about our Christian Martial Art will make no sense to you if you are not a disciple of Jesus Christ. But if you know Christ, these principles should resonate with your faith and practice.

Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.


I. What is the Impact of Christianity on Martial Arts?

We are Christians, right? Jesus taught us that we should not fight right? The Bible says we should not kill, right?

What does the Bible say about fighting, killing, and murder? Murder is older than human government. When Cain killed his brother Able, there was no retribution allowed by God. While murder was a sin, it was not yet a crime. God said that there should be no capital punishment. But then after the flood, many things changed. In Genesis 9:6 “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” God said that if a man murders, then he must be put to death. This was the beginning of and the basis for human government. This demonstrates the principle that law without penalty is not a real law because it is not enforceable.

From this theistic mandate, man’s right to self defense is certainly assured. Whether man had the right to defend himself by killing an attacker before this mandate, he definitely has it since.

A. But Christian Martial artist, that’s an oxymoron, right? Psalms 144:1 A Psalm of David. Blessed [be] the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, [and] my fingers to fight:

The Bible shows from Genesis to Revelation that not all killing is murder. Self defense is not murder. It is simple to see by extension that defense of an innocent other person is justified. We just saw that God’s mandate against murder justifies human government to use capital management. The natural extension of that mandate is the ability of government to wage war. If you do not defend your country, the enemy can come in and kill your citizens. This justifies the soldiers to be warriors and to practice the art of war.

So, we see, there is a personal right to learn martial arts to protect self. Furthermore, soldiers have a right and responsibility to learn the art of war.

B. But Christians should not fight. Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one . . . 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here [are] two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.

Yes, but that was the Old Testament, right? We are in the New Testament. This is the age of grace. We should not fight, right? “Jesus taught us another way. We should have mercy on people, not put them to death.”

Is that really what Jesus taught? No, Jesus told his disciples to get a sword when he was about to be crucified. Why would Jesus tell them to get a sword? They were not soldiers. They were not police. The only reason Jesus would tell them to keep a sword is for self defense. This is clearly an authorization by Jesus Himself for his disciples to protect themselves even to death.

Furthermore, we see that the Apostle Paul confirms the death penalty in Romans 13:4 “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Why does he have a sword if not as a weapon? Paul demonstrates that capital punishment is valid and still in proper use for our dispensation.

C. What about turn the other cheek? Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

But Jesus said that we should turn the other cheek. How does that square with self defense? Notice that Jesus said that Jesus said if they smite thee on right cheek. But if someone punches you, chances are they will strike you on the left cheek. How would a right handed person strike someone on the right cheek? A back hand. Jesus is not saying if someone tries to beat you up you have to submit to it. He is saying that if someone insults you by giving you the back of the hand, turn the other cheek. We do not respond to insults with violence. If someone insults us, turn the other cheek. This makes sense of the two verses very nicely.

Belt Chart

Part Two

II. What is the Impact of Christianity on the Philosophy/temperament of a martial art?

A. The brotherhood of the saints Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Many martial arts still carry the vestiges of human idolatry in their schools, both in philosophy and practice. The Instructor (Sensei) in some traditional martial arts is still revered with demigod respect. Black belts are revered above all students below.

The experience is much different in Cha Yun Do, as a Christian martial art. There is, obviously, respect for the instructors and for the black belts, but this is different from the traditional schools. We do not lord rank or position over others. There is a greater sense of brotherhood in a Christian organization because we know that all men are equal in the sight of God.

God does not love any man or woman more than any other. He is not a respecter of persons. God loves us all and that love should be showed equally by each of us to the others around us.

This Christian humility is not the same spirit that is conveyed by many of the traditional Eastern martial arts. But this is the spirit that will be in the school that has Biblical principles guiding it.

B. The humility of the leader Matthew 23:11 “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

As previously mentioned, the instructor in traditional arts is revered and idolized. This is a vestige of the pagan theologies of the East. In some cultures, the bow with eyes down is a sign of worship. In contrast, to bow with eyes still raised is a sign of respect between equals.

We, in Cha Yun Do, bow with eyes raised. We do not worship the instructor, the black belt, the grand master, or any ancestors as is common in Eastern martial arts. We retain an eyes-raised bow of respect but there is no idolatry.

The Christian leader is called to be a servant. This is based on our spiritual “grand master” Jesus Christ. He showed that to be a true instructor/leader, one must be a servant/leader. He bowed the knee to his disciples and washed their feet. Because he humbled himself more than anyone else has ever humbled himself, God will raise Jesus higher than anyone will ever be raised.

So, in Cha Yun Do, as should be in any Christian martial art, the grand master, Dr. Young is one of the most humble men I have ever known. He exudes a spirit of authority and power in his teaching, but it is not based on his own strength or personal presence. Rather it is an authority that arises from his spiritual life in Christ. He is a servant to his students and has true care and Christian love for them.

This is a great difference between a Christian and pagan martial art. Traditional arts elevate the master in pride and position. “You do what I say because I tell you to.” This is not a Christian principle. Paul said in I Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ.” We should follow our Christian leaders/instructors, but only to the degree that they follow Christ.

Dr. Young and other Christian martial artists will tell their students why they should do it a certain way. But often in traditional arts, the instructor cannot tell the students why. Sadly, the reason they cannot tell is because they themselves do not know.

Dr. Young also emphasizes another difference between a traditional martial art and a Christian one. In traditional arts, the master always keeps back something. This guarantees superiority over his students. This keeps the students lacking one piece of the puzzle. In this way, over the generations, information and techniques have been lost in the traditional arts because of this practice. But the students of these arts blindly do what they have been taught without knowing why. It was just the way they were taught.

In a Christian martial art, the master pours out everything that he can to his students. He does not hold back to maintain false superiority. He does not need to erect false walls. The Christian leader is a servant. He wants his students to succeed, even if that means that they become better than the instructor. There is no threat to the Christian instructor if his students become better than him because of the spirit of Christian community. The student and the instructor both esteem the other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3 above)

C. The Principle of wealth Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

The traditional martial arts cost a lot of money to study. The workman is worthy of his hire, Luke 10:7 “. . .for the labourer is worthy of his hire. . .” But there seems to be many martial arts instructors that charge far more than they need to. Some demand that the students lock themselves into staggering contracts that chain people into commitments in spite of circumstances that often inevitably change.

In contrast, the schools in the Christian Martial Arts Fellowship (CMAF) do not use contracts. Although there is nothing wrong with contracts if they are fair, our schools do not use them because we approach our schools differently. We also have a better than average retention rate of new students, even without contracts.

None of the CMAF schools are there to make anyone rich. They are designed to teach people to defend themselves without the students impoverishing themselves. Frankly, every instructor in the CMAF could charge much more than they do. While there is nothing wrong with a martial artist to make his living by instructing, that is not why we in the CMAF are there.

I do believe that a Christian martial artist will approach the matter of money and tuition differently than those in the traditional arts. Even if they make their living by teaching, they will not charge exorbitant prices. Rather, they enrich their students by the teaching in a spirit of charity.

Social Question

Should a father fight to protect his family?

  • Yes.
  • No.
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/derekwin/148712506/
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/12828914@N00/278392062/
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Part 3.

III. What is the Impact of Christianity on the Expectation placed on students? II Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

The instructors of traditional martial arts have much different expectations on their students than Christian instructors will. The difference goes back to the theology of the art. Because many of the traditional arts are based on ancestor worship, there is a heritage in these arts that extends even to today. This heritage translates into the expectation that each student must measure up to the instructor. “If you do not do it like I do it, you are not doing it right.” This is a subtle kind of idolatry but it is there.

In a Christian martial art, the instructor understands that God has made every person different. God has made some people able to do some things better than others. This means that students may not be able to do things as well as the instructor because of congenital or genetic predispositions. On the other side, some students will develop better techniques than their instructors. This is a Biblical principle. Psalms 119:99 “I have more understanding than all my teachers. . .” The Christian martial artist rejoices when his students become better than he is. This goes back to the last point on humility.

The Christian instructor teaches his students that the standard is not the grand master. Jesus is our God. This translates into the principle that every student should strive to be the best practitioner than he can be for God. This is what Christ expects of us. He does not want us to compare ourselves among ourselves. He wants us to compare ourselves with what God has made us to be. This is the wisdom of the Christian martial artist.

     A. Standard of Excellence I Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

So, if the master/instructor is not the standard of excellence, how will people know what to reach for? The answer lies in teaching our students that all things are possible in the will of God. The standard of excellence is God. We need to teach our students to do all that they do, in discipline, self-defense, or service to others for the glory of God. The instructor is a default standard of excellence because “baby” martial artists look to the instructor for all that they know about self-defense. But as the “baby” martial artists mature into experts, they understand things for themselves. At this level, they should also strive to exemplify Christ in their discipline. They need to do the best that they can do for the glory of God.

     B. Standard of Service Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The Christian martial artist recognizes that he practices for God’s glory and for the service of the saints. So, the Christian artist does his classes, drills, and self disciplines to be better able to serve his fellow man. He treats his class mates with respect and humility in a Christian martial art. In contrast, this is not the guiding principle of the traditional arts. There is a certain cut-throat competition in the traditional arts. Traditional arts encourage this for best results. But there is a different respect for others by followers of Christ. No student is better than any other. We all help each other to become better. We are not threatened by the success of fellow students.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29055998@N02/2804091840/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29055998@N02/2804091840/

Part 4

IV. What is the Impact of Christianity on Training in the Martial Arts?

     A. Necessity of Prayer

A Christian martial artist recognizes that all that we need comes from the Father above. If we are going to be the best martial artist we can be, we will need the help of God. So, Christian martial artist pray. A Christian Karate school will also pray. Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

You may think that martial arts and religion should be kept separate. King David did not think so. Psalms 144:1 “A Psalm of David. Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:” The Eastern martial arts do not think so.

The Kung Fu, Karate, Kali (etc.) all wrap spirituality and martial arts into one whole. Transcendental meditation is a spiritual practice. The closest counterpart to it in Christianity is prayer. They meditate to be commune with the universe and open up themselves to the power of the universe. Christianity’s practice to commune with God and receive His power is prayer.

The Christian martial artist that is not practicing prayer is not practicing martial arts to his full potential.

      B. Necessity of Scripture

If our requests are made known to God by our prayers, the other side of that equation is God’s communication to us. Christian martial artists must hear from God to be wise and have guidance and direction. This communication comes in various ways, but the most important way is through the reading of God’s holy Word.

The warrior that does not know the rules of engagement will work against his commander and fail his general. God’s rules of engagement and guidelines of battle are found in the Bible. The Christian martial artist that does not read and follow the Bible will fail his Captain, Jesus Christ. You may be able to do great karate, but if you do not know when to use it, how, and to what ends, you will inevitably fail in life.

     C. Necessity of Spiritual Leadership

The discipline of martial arts is a spiritual discipline. The acts of fighting, defense, and warfare all have questions of right and wrong. If a martial arts instructor does not instruct on when it is right to fight and when it is wrong, he is not fully teaching his students. These questions cannot be divorced from the study of martial arts.

We have all seen this in the movie “Karate Kid.” We see the noble instructor Mr. Miyagi, teaches Daniel-son when to fight and when not to. We also see the Cobra Kai instructor being evil in his wisdom and perverted in his nobility.

The best martial artist in the traditional arts will never be able to know what God’s true will is for his martial arts unless he learns God’s wisdom of the use of it. So, in Christian martial arts, the instructor must point the students to the origin of highest wisdom, Jesus Christ. For an instructor to give the tools of self defense without the wisdom of when and how to use them is careless and dangerous. The instructor must know God’s ways.

The Christian martial artist can give spiritual instruction in three ways: Communication, Example, and Attitude. All three are vital. We must tell our students the truth and wisdom of God. But then we must continue by doing it ourselves. If we do not do what we say, we are become hypocrites, speaking one thing in word and another thing in action. But then we need to have the right attitude. If we say the right thing, and do it, but with the wrong attitude, we will fail to communicate God’s wisdom. Our students will rebel against such hypocrisy.

So, the martial arts instructor must have the spirit of humility, kindness, respect in his words and actions. Otherwise, his wrong attitude will speak louder than the words.

By Pastor Andrew

www.pastorandrew.ws

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Comments 28 comments

HOOWANTSTONO profile image

HOOWANTSTONO 6 years ago

Nice and interesting.

I used to do Budo Khan Karate and Judo. I did at one time come under this understanding, it is contrary to biblical though to do Martial Arts, but then God said in his word Luke 22:36.

In later years you come to realize you don't have to necessarily do Karate, Kung Fu, etc, you could take up "Krav Maga" which is for self defence which has come in handy a few times.

I also remember when doing Karate that walking away was part of self defence, and so "Turning the Cheek" is also taught in Budo Khan.

Nice provoking hub

Go well


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

Think I'll continue trusting in God to keep me safe, He's done a fine job of it for nearly sixty years and that when I have roamed into some dark places.

I'll stay with Psalm 91.

John


PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 6 years ago from Detroit Author

Aquasilver: A Martial Artist that walks by faith in Jesus Christ does not have to fight. But sometimes God calls us to fight in defense of family or nation. But God does not call all to fight. So, that is the question. What does your faith lead you to do?


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

My faith leads me to trust that God will manage these situations on my behalf, and that should I take this area of protection into my own hands, then in some small way I am relieving God of the obligation to protect His children.

My family have the same God as I do, and the same protection. If we are ever attacked successfully, it will be because we have in some way opened the door to the enemies attack, wide enough for that attack to succeed.

We all have our own walk, I personally would steer clear of 'self'defence for the same reasons that I steer clear of 'self' determination or any other 'self' thing.... my main adversary is 'self' and I seek to kill it, not protect it.


AK Nicole 6 years ago

First off thank you for writing this hub. I had an idea of what you meant by christian martial arts and i wanted to know for sure. I'm glad to see that someone has taken the basic teachings of God and Christ and used them to form a means of protecting what is important. Alot of people think martials arts is just a means of fighting and is there for only made of violence, so it's good to see a martial art based on protection and improvement of a person's spiritual self instead of just a means to get stronger than your enemies.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

I have donned the armour of my Lord and my God and stand steadfast with my bible in my right hand and the sword of incorruption in my left hand prepared at a moment's notice to serve my God and defend my faith in Him.

Sincerely,

Brother Dave Mathews


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Pastor Andrew any man or woman who would not take up their Holy Bible to defend their faith and stand strong for their God, Their Lord and Saviour needs more fortification in their beliefs through The Word Of God. My Fight is By the side of Jesus in the Spirit World.

Sincerely,

Brother Dave Mathews


4x4 profile image

4x4 6 years ago from Los Angeles

I am from the Far East & have been involved in the Martial Arts since the 1990s, years before I become a believer in Christ.

Now my son is also into Martial Arts, although not in Christian Martial Arts. I see the benefits of being connected with the later, but I guess with the proper guidance & care a believer can also thrive in the former.

If not then the way to go is Cha Yun Do.

Thanks for sharing.


bat115 profile image

bat115 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Thank You for sharing this hub with us. It clears so much up in the matter of Christians and Martial Arts.


martial arts footwear 6 years ago

Wow PastorAndrew that's a large hub. I haven't thought about a connection between Christians and martial arts yet. Although I do martial arts myself and grew up in a cristian family etc.

And I don't know the bible so well I could quote a bible verse here. Anyway, I'll keep on reading the rest now - halfway through now.


jonathan foster 6 years ago

MIGHT FOR RIGHT...MEEKNESS NOT WEAKNESS!


PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 6 years ago from Detroit Author

Many people do not understand meekness. Meekness is not weakness, but it is strength under control.


Temmy 6 years ago

For the Christian who does not desire the eastern religious values often embedded in Asian martial arts there are now alternatives rooted in christian and western values. For the last 20 years people have been reconstructing the martial arts of Medieval and rennaisance Europe from manuscripts. These are true and real martial arts, system of armed and unarmed fighting that were used to protect christendom from would be invaders. They are every bit as sophisticated as the Eastern Styles. They include

systems of grappling, sword, dagger, staff and polearm, mounted, striking systems and everything in between. We call it HEMA, Historic European Martial Arts and many groups root their study into the context of Christian Chivalry.


PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 6 years ago from Detroit Author

I am glad you bring this subject up. You should write an article about it. I do not know as much about that subject. But the fact is that there are very effective and complete martial art systems that developed outside of the far east. And the specifics that you brought up are examples of that.


Peter 6 years ago

As a Christian martial artist, I have talked my way out of violence on all but one occastion when I had to defend myself. He walked away from it and I am sorry that I had to hit him. I had no other choice.

Being a Christian is about love. Not violence. That is what separates us from violent false beliefs.

Self defence yes, but never jumping straight to murder.

Luke 6:27-31


PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 6 years ago from Detroit Author

Murder is never justified. As an attorney, we studied the differences between killing and murder. Murder is the unauthorized or unjustified killing of a human being by another human being.

But killing by government (as in capital punishment or in war)is authorized both in human law and in Divine law. Killing in self defense or defense of an innocent is justified both in human and Divine law.


Lee Savage profile image

Lee Savage 5 years ago from East Canton Ohio

I am very impressed and find this hub to be very informative, It brings me joy to see this and it encourages me to improve my hub on the subject


Roy Harris 5 years ago

Being a Christian, an assistant pastor and a martial artist, I would like to share my perspective on this article as well.

I have been involved in martial arts for 30 years. I have been a Christian for 32 years. I have been involved in 26 different styles of martial art. These 26 style represent the entire gamut of styles:

1. Traditional.

2. Eclectic.

3. Holistic.

4. Sportive.

5. Combative.

Most people who know about martial arts are only familiar with the traditional (like the Japanese, Okinawan or Korean styles) or the sportive styles (like Judo, boxing, or wrestling). Most are unfamiliar with the eclectic, holistic or combative.

Here is a short list of countries where these 26 styles come from:

1. Japan.

2. China.

3. Philippines.

4. Indonesia.

5. India.

6. France.

7. Russia.

8. Switzerland.

9. Italy.

10. Greece.

11. Africa.

12. Brazil.

As you can see, martial arts comes from every corner of the planet. In other words, it is not limited to just the Orient.

Additionally, all styles of martial arts are not concerned with violence or self-defense. Many are health, exercise and stress-reduction oriented.

So, can a Christian be involved in martial arts? It is my personal belief that it all depends on the individual. As I've seen expressed here, some people are ignorant of the topic and would prefer to remain that way. They use certain scriptures to demonstrate their reliance upon the Lord. For them, that is good. I certainly do not find fault in their personal convictions - because it is between them and God.

However, to apply that standard for everyone I believe is a bend of scripture. I believe we have a liberty in Christ that allows us to freely choose. Paul makes mention of this principle in Romans 14:1-22.

For me personally, self-defense was a means unto an end. I got beat up and spit on as a youth. So, martial arts training for me was a means of self-protection. All of the styles that had religious overtones within them, I stayed clear of them. All of the styles that focused on self-defense and physical fitness, these were the styles I focused on!

Additionally, God ended up using martial arts as a means for ministry. I can't tell you how many people I have had in my office who have come to me because they've needed to talk about their marriage, or their job, or some friendship, or because they were thinking about committing suicide. Over the years, God has allowed me (through my martial arts training) to minister to hundreds of people on this planet. For that, I am grateful.

Those are my two cents.

Roy

royroy858@yahoo.com


Jo Woodward profile image

Jo Woodward 5 years ago from Staffordshire, England

I have been told that I can't be a Christian and practice a martial art. Apparently my faith is so weak I can be lead astray simply by learning about a different philosophy or religion.

Learning Tai Chi, Pa Kua and Hsing I have helped me gain, health, strenth and self confidence. In 15 years I have I ever felt the need to abandon my faith.

I put such comments down to ignorance and fear on the part of others.

Ignorance because it's obvious they have no idea what they are actually talking about. Within a few minutes it becomes clear they are voicing opinons based on what they've heard and been told not what they actually know.

Fear because they're own faith may not be as strong as they want others to believe and project that fear on to people around them.

I believe that God uses all things in this world to help us and to help others. I also believe that I am where God wants me to be and doing what God wants me to do. If I ever have any doubts I trust in him to show me.


PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 5 years ago from Detroit Author

Jo, your observations are certainly true of many people. Many do react out of impulse or out of what others have told and taught them. There is much to be learned out of the self discipline it takes to be a martial artist.

On the other side of that, there are martial arts that are inextricably linked to pagan religions. If you can find a teacher and a system that does not contradict the truth of God's Word, that is a gift from God.


David Ramses 4 years ago

I have studied the martial arts for 28 years. I have never studied a martial art that promoted or endorsed any type of religions other than Christianity. As a young man, I became obsessed with the martial arts and only endured the Christian messages in order to gain more martial arts ability. Of course, I abused this martial arts ability and used even the smallest offense to justify the "testing of the skill." This led to much trouble and many dire circumstances that led me astray spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Finally, I took my eyes off of the things of this world and set my eyes on Jesus. Once I did this, it was revealed to me that anything of this world is lesser that things of Christ. In martial arts, all the focus is on developing "my" skill, "my" form, "my" prowess, "my" will, and defending "myself". Jesus never taught us to use any tool except His word for all learning, development, and achievement. In the Bible, the "sword" is the Word of God. Jesus said, "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword." Yes, He did command the disciples to acquire a sword. Was He referring to a real sword or the sword of the Spirit? I mean, there were 12 of them and they had only a few real swords. When they told Him they had some He told them it was enough. So everyone of them didn't need a sword? Or did He simply leave the subject with the knowledge that what He really meant would be revealed to them in the future? As Christians, we are supposed to rely on God for protection, provision, health, wealth, wisdom, and salvation. Physical fitness and health are two different things. Personally, I put martial arts in its place years ago. It is nothing but a tool for physical fitness and coordination and I am careful never to let it interfere with God's missions. Any system of anything connected to violence that claims to be a path, or provide a path, to righteousness is contradictory. It is just like the bushido of the japanese martial arts. They claim karate is actually a system of enlightenment. Nope! It is a system of punching and kicking designed to inflict damage to the body of another human being. Can martial arts provide a venue for the Gospel of Christ? Nope! It can only provide a venue for martial arts practice combined with the Gospel of Grace. Is there a need for self-defense? Jesus said "Turn the other cheek." Did Jesus defend Himself? Nope! The Bible tells us that, as Christians, even in the most dire of circumstances that will come in the end times, we are to either starve to death of be willingly beheaded for Christ rather than receiving the mark of the beast. Does it tell us to rise up and physically defend against the armies of the enemy? Nope! Of course, it does not tell us not to either. Martial arts should be objective. It should have a purpose that is totally separate from the Word of God because Jesus separated the sword from the Word of God. To combine martial arts with Christianity puts the two on the same level; this is impossible and misleading. In oriental countries, you will never find bushido without martial arts. Buddhism is the companion of Kung Fu, as is Confucianism. Islam is the birther and inspiration for militant action and holy wars. All religions, except for Christianity, embrace violence as the way out of violence. In Christianity, the Holy Spirit is the way out of violence. In my gyms, we view martial arts on the same level as football or basketball. It is just a sport, even when we practice it in "street" mode. It is never mistaken as a way of life or something to be revered, at all. We study martial arts the way a dancer studies dance. We are convicted never to market martial arts in conjunction with Christianity. We think it is a dangerous gimmick that can taint the Word of God. We know God allows us some things that are not sinful and completely human; like fitness, art, competition, etc. We are careful never to revere martial arts. We look at it with the same reverence we look at a hammer with. It is just a tool. Christ is the way and the truth and the life. On the issue of self-defense, which is a completely human issue, I have a few points:

1. 99% of all the martial arts I have ever learned is completely impractical, or I will never be in a situation to use it, or it is designed with a completely different purpose.

2. Self-defense, self-help, self-improvement, self-esteem, self-preservation, and the self are all anti-Christian doctrines and beliefs that are the object of many messages in the Bible (that pertain to seeking Christ to overcome them because they are tools of the devil that take the believer's eyes off Jesus)

3. I have personally witnessed, on several occasions, a completely untrained (possibly mildly experienced) attacker defeat, with devastation, experienced martial artists. Most people are born with the natural ability to defend themselves if they need to and all people are born with the ability, or rather the curse, to fight.

4. Most martial arts systems that claim to be self-defense systems are actually systems of glorified athletic martial movements that have no real self-defense use; karate and other traditional systems are good examples.

5. We live in an age of advanced technology. If you are in a situation where you feel you need self-defense, I recommend a firearm and a conceal and carry permit. It is the only completely applicable self-defense system.

Summary: Jesus told us to look to Him and to receive the Holy Spirit to reach the Kingdom of Heaven. He told us to deny this world and live through Him. He told us to deny ourselves, and that this was the way to improve ourselves. He said, "No man can serve two masters." Therefore, how can it be necessary or beneficial to combine another master with the Message of Christ? He told us that if we valued our lives we would lose them and that if we did not value them we would gain them. What did Paul do when he was attacked? He blessed his enemies in the name of Jesus Christ, he prayed for them, he loved them as Jesus loved them. This is the call of a Christian and it has no room for karate kicks. Use martial arts as a tool for fitness, if you are interested in it. If not, you can run, work, eat right, play tennis, or whatever methods of achieving athletic dexterity you wish to undertake. God bless you and I hope it is never necessary for any of you to ever use violence for any reason.


PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 4 years ago from Detroit Author

I appreciate your well thought out and well reasoned comment. I wholeheartedly agree with much of what you said. In the end, there are times when God allows and even leads us to use lethal force to defend ourselves or the innocent (whether by use of gun or kick). But there are other times when God leads us to endure attack and even death. Each believer needs to do what they do by faith. And as Paul said, in everything you do, in word or in deed, do all for the glory of God. If there is some thing that we can do for God's glory, even if it is a perfectly mundane thing, then let's do it for Him. So, I do Christian Karate because I can do it with full faith believing that I glorify Him by my exercise, self discipline, and even defending the innocent.

If you can not in good faith call your Karate "Christian," then do not do it. What ever is not of faith is sin. But this is an area that comes down to the liberty we have in Christ. I appreciate your opinion. And since that is where you believe that Christ wants you to stand, I appreciate that stand. Thank you for sharing your point of view. And I encourage everyone to consider what you have said with prayer.

Whatever God convicts us to do on some of these "gray areas" is exactly what we should do. For me there is no gray in this. I believe I am doing what He wants me to do. But everyone needs to come to the conviction of that by prayer, Scripture, and the assurance of faith.

Thank you again.


John 3 years ago

John 19.10, 11 Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

So Conclusion If Christ fought back we would not be able to look at him on "calvary" he had direct access to power not of this world . to use more than any Martial Discipline could ever offer . Only Christ can save and protect not man check your motives and its root cause. Look to Christ and you will find out your true strength.


PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 3 years ago from Detroit Author

I agree with what I understood you to say. What you said does not negate the fact that Jesus gave us the prerogative as disciples to defend ourselves. This is just like you say. Jesus had the ability to defend Himself and choose not to. So we also have choice to defend or suffer. That choice should be made with full faith


Ricardo {Rene } 3 years ago

fight the good fight of faith we will fight justly. faith without work is dead therefore we have to defense physically mentally and spiritually we are made whole with spirit soul and body and we have to guard in it depending on the attack.

kindly post Lakas Katorse A unique Filipno Martial Arts, you can view or watch via video in You tube or Google.

Thank you and may God bless us all...


Cole 3 years ago

Hi PastorAndrew,

My friend in a Kung Fu teacher, and I hope that he will be a christian soon.However, the problem is he is a Kung Fu teacher, he needs teach Kung Fu for life. Then , if we promote Kung Fu , is that means we promote violent too? If so, it is difficult for us. Can you please give us some opinion?

Thanks a lot!


PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 3 years ago from Detroit Author

I know that there are Christians that have gotten into a martial art without knowing that the art would eventually demand that they believe, practice, or teach mystical concepts that are opposed to the Word of God. If you are in a martial arts organization that demands such things, as a believer, you need to get out. If anything comes between you and your relationship with Christ, you need to get rid of it. Some people that I know have been unable to separate their fighting arts from bad things. Those that I know in this situation have to stay away from all martial arts because it brings back the old life.

This is why it is so important to understand the the religious background of your martial art. And don't be naïve enough to assume that your martial art has no religious/mystical background. Most martial arts are married to a philosophy that cannot be separated completely from the art itself.

If however, you can practice the physical defense of your art without being mired in the dangerous mysticism, then go ahead.

When it comes down to it, we all answer to Christ Himself. Make your decisions with full faith in His guidance.


kevin 3 years ago

Pastor Andrew I have been running my own school for ten years and I have reached Master level. I refuse to let anyone call me Master. For you only have one Master and he is the Christ. I do teach my students about Christ and always emphasize control and mercy on your opponent. Most altercations can be avoided verbally and humbling yourself. I do believe God will fight your battles for you when you put your faith in him. I grew up Catholic and recently became a Christian. After getting to know Christ more I am on the fence whether MA is an oxymoron. I know that Joshua needed to be convinced quite aggressively by Moses to learn to defend himself. I found your views similar to mine and you made some points more clear for me. Thanks for Posting and May God continue to Bless you.

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