Christianity and the Martial Arts, pt 3

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Aren’t learning how to kill?

The martial arts whether Chinese, Okinawan, Japanese or any other, are the practice of combat.

Martial = “military” or “warring“.


The usual reason people have for studying kung fu, karate and the like is to learn to defend themselves.  When you start any martial arts you have to start at the beginning.

More times than not, the teacher will be giving a punch, punch. kick, kick understanding of the style they teach. The idea is to help to students to end a fight quickly and decisively using the most basic and fundamental movements of the art.

That could mean:

  • Creating so much pain that the attack stops. Usually from being punched or kick.
  • Making it impossible for the attack to continue. Hyper-extending or Breaking arm or a leg.
  • Killing the attacker.

Obviously, at the lowest levels the practice of most martial arts is violent. Let me clarify.

The beginning student does not have the skills or control to execute “high-level techniques” (1) anymore than a beginning math student has the ability to do advanced

A close look at the low-level forms and one steps (at basic levels) will show you a collection of fundamental punches and kicks and blocks, that strive to teach the student.

But, as Christians (followers and confessors of Jesus as Lord and Savior) we must strive for, in a military term, “less lethal” methods of defense, even at the lowest levels.

We are to use our lives to show the glory of God. (2) That can only come from a clear example of Christ in our lives.

His example:

  1. Grace: (3) unmerited forgiveness. Example: Not punching someone’s lights out when they’re trying to punch not yours. Even and especially if you can. This is the giving allowance for them having it really bad day or not knowing any better.
  2. Mercy: (4) releasing one from punishment that we may feel they deserve. As a trained martial artist you could easily waylay the average attacker. Choosing not to do so it is the pouring out of mercy on that person.
  3. Truth: (5) that Jesus purchased our lives with His. That we were once blind, violent, lovers of sin just like that guy taking a punch at you..
  4. Life: (6) that it is God’s will that none should perish

(7) the all should come to eternal life. (8) We are to give everyone that opportunity, in spite of attitude toward us — or maybe in light of their attitude.


The “higher levels” of almost all arts use grappling (9) and trapping (10) to defend without harm. To find these methods in most hard styles can be a daunting task at times. But a whole new world will be opened to you for your efforts.

If you show your instructor genuine interest and sincerity he will be more willing to show you these types of techniques. Don’t settle for what is on the surface of your style. Dig into the movement combinations and study the human body to find the chin-na and and locks hidden in your system.

Yes there are extremes in every area of life. As Paul’s states “each man is to work out his salvation with trembling and fear”.

Quite simply you are the one who is to ask the Lord how to response in light of His  sacrifice (11) for you and His son’s dying love.

“A New View of Training”

So why would you, as a Christian, study in practice the martial arts?

I still practice because there is literally no other form of exercise that can beat it. (12) It’s fun and challenging and for me it has been one of the best evangelism (13) tools I have. Children and adults alike loved the action and excitement. It gives me a chance to share where my true strength (14) comes from and what real power (15) is. God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Plus I get to break things on a regular basis. What more could you ask for?! .

So again on the surface the martial arts can teach you to kill, but your ultimate goal in training is to become proficient to the point of knowing how not to. For you to progress from the low-level skills (punching/ kicking) to the upper-level skills (locking and grappling) requires patience, diligence and endurance. But it is well worth the trip.

Also for the defense of others. There are times and places when as a martial artist and as a Christian you may be called to stand up and be the barrier for someone. Remember that we have been given two mandates as followers of Christ. One from Jesus himself in John15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. and another from the apostle Paul in Romans12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

 May the Lord bless you and your house hold.

John Roche


Foot note:

(1)    “High level techniques require practiced skills that are accumulated through time, practice, and a whole lot of aggravation. In schooling terms they are what you will learn in Graduate Level classes in college ”

(2)    “Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

(3)    “Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), 6and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: ”

(4)    “Titus 3:5 not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,”

(5)   John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.

(6)    “John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

(7)    “John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”

(8)    “Romans 7:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(9)       “Learning to control and restrain an attacker by means of arm twisting;, muscle squeezing, joint manipulation or even setting upon them”

(10),”a method of forcing an attackers arms to cross each other and make it impossible to strike or attack you”

(11)     1 Peter 2:16 because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy. 17 And if ye call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to each man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning in fear: 18 knowing that ye were redeemed

(12)       “Using proper stance training you get a great lower body work-out. Forms give you endurance training. Total body tension forms (like Shao-lin 5 Tiger, Tensho ect) give you power training. All in the space of a few square feet, without expensive equipment.”

(13)     “Everyone is impressed by a good Martial Artist and when you offer to teach a bystander whatever you are practicing you can explain that it’s a free gift just like eternal life is”

(14)        Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through God who strengthens me”

(15)     “The Holy Spirit resides in me as a believer and He empowers me to do the work of the father, be that work, healing, serving, teaching or cleaning it is through His power that it happens.”

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