Martial Arts for the Christian
A View of the Martial Arts In The Life of the Believer
Being A Mighty Man or Woman Of Valor
Having been involved in the martial arts most of my life, it has played a big part on how I think and act. But, at the same time, being a believer in Jesus Christ, which is a “Christian” my thoughts and actions are also based on my belief in God.
In this article, I'm going to take a look at the Mighty Men of Valor. Both Joshua’s and David’s Mighty Men of Valor were some of the greatest martial artists that ever lived. But, that is a fact that seems to get lost in the general talk among Christians regarding spiritual warfare, as well as, “traditional” martial artists. For some Christians, the concept of martial arts is a taboo and possibly a satanically inspired endeavor. For traditional martial artists, the Mighty Men of Valor doesn’t even show up on the radar.
There seems to be a misconception that a martial artist is only someone who practices or studies familiar combat arts such a Karate, Kung Ku, Judo, Ju Jitsu, as well as other combat arts from all over the world that are based on or integrates various religions that may seem to be incompatible with Christianity. While some martial arts do have a basis in other religions and philosophies, some of their main tenants of action and behavior are completely compatible. Tenets to build character, live in peace, be helpful to others, etc. are perfectly inline with Christianity.
When incorporating the person’s religious and philosophical aspects of their life into their martial art, we have to understand the “Why” and the “Function” of the basis of the martial art. That is to say, did the martial art come from the religious/philosophical practices or did the religious/philosophical practices get incorporated into the martial art due to cultural traditions and beliefs?
So, a Christian training in the martial art of Shotokan karate, while training his or her body to be physically fit and tactically aware is also seeking to perfect their character, training themselves to be faithful, endeavoring to try new things, showing respect to one another and refraining from prideful, violent behavior. These tenants are in keeping with the Christian’s focus to love others as themselves.
As in the case of the Mighty Men of Valor, their “Why” was living a life based on their beliefs and their relationship to God, their “Who” In their case, the fulfilling of their function, their “Why” included learning combat arts. It is similar to the “Why” of a person being a writer. And that person’s “Function” being the art of writing. This is also what a countryman does when he or she joins their country’s military services.
But, one additional aspect that the Christian must take into account and be mindful of is the aspect of “Who”. Like the Mighty Men of Valor, the “Who” is in knowing that you are a Chosen Child of God. A person who is a believer, has to realize that the “Why” is not the primary motivational factor in what is done. It is the “Who” that determines the “Why”. This person is not trying to become who they are – the person is a child of God. The person is simply living out “Who” they are and it’s choosing the appropriate actions that determines the manifestation of their “Why”.
For a Christian to perform in the manner of a Mighty Man or Woman Of Valor in their lives, he or she must understand that because of their “Who”, they are in a constant state of war; the person is now in active spiritual warfare. At this point, it must be understood that being in a state of active spiritual warfare is not to be considered God’s individual purpose for their life. It may be that Serving Others is your purpose, but realizing that the war is still going on. And, this person has to fulfill their “Purpose” within their knowledge, context and ability to engage within their area spiritual warfare.
Therefore, one aspect of fulfilling your “Purpose Based Why” is being prepared to also master the art of war. Mastering the art of war is both a physical and spiritual endeavor. The victory within each battle starts with understanding your “Who” or who you are and everything that connected with that. Therefore, being prepared physically and spiritually filters into a person’s readiness and ability to make wise decisions, to be emotionally stable and to be mentally sound. It also allows the person to relax and both, enjoy life and fulfill their “Purpose Based Why.”
A Christian training in martial arts must also keep in mind that everything that is being taught; physically, emotionally and mentally has to be filtered through their “Who” mindset. One thing that we have to do is to understand the different concepts that are taught within the context of various martial arts. One of those concepts is that of the “internal” martial arts systems where the concept of chi is talked about and taught.
As a Christian practicing Meditative Karate, our breathing is both a reminder of the One, God, who breathes life into people, as well as a discipline in relaxation. The slow fluid movements are a reminder of how the Holy Spirit guides, as well as learning body control and alignment. Meditation emphasizes filling ones mind with who God is and who we are as God’s creation. Meditation also teaches stress release and more detailed focus.
The Need For Warrior Christians
Why is there the “Christian’s” need to separate the eastern philosophical thoughts and beliefs from the martial arts instead of using them as a point to begin a real discussion and demonstration of the true and living God; the creator of all things? Why can’t Christians have and use our position, as already victorious and seated in the heavenly places (Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;”? And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus… (Eph. 2:5-7)) as an opportunity move past the elementary principles of man’s tradition and wisdom and understanding? (Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power…. (Col2:8-10)), that those things which others call gods are not gods at all (“As concerning therefore the eating [using] of those things that are offered in sacrifice [ unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things, and we by Him. (1 Cor 8: 4-6)).
There seems to be an almost pacifist, defensive stance or mindset in the life and teachings of a lot of Christians. While being told that we are a victorious army, it is as if the Christian always seems to cower or be on guard against being taken over instead of the Christian having a mindset of taking a stand and moving forward, aggressively into “enemy” territory (And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth [uses violence], and the violent take it by force (Mat 11:12)).
It seems that Christians view concepts such as chi/ki energy (“universal energy”) more different than air, gravity, water, etc. and for some reason, it is as if this energy is put above God and the power of the Holy Spirit (… He [Jesus] that cometh after me [Jesus Christ] is mightier than I [John the Baptist]… He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Mat 3:11), who is the Creator and the Giver of True Living Energy (For in Him [God] we live, and move, and have our being…(Act 17:28)).
Are we, as Christians so fearful that we’re unable to stand, both spiritually and physically, against the strategies of Satan, even when those strategies keep us from being like David (… then said David to the Phillistine [Goliath], Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name [authority] of the Lord of host, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied… And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Phillistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Phillistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Phillistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David… (1 Sam 17:45-50) and his Mighty Men of Valor (Now these are they that came to David…they were among the mighty men, helpers of the war. They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of bow… And of the Gadites…men of war fit for the battle, that could had shield and buckler… And they helped David… for they were all mighty men of valour…All these men of war, that could keep rank [hold their battle line], came with a perfect heart… (1 Ch 12:1-39). These men were willing to train, stand and confront evil and error in all of its forms?
As part of God’s army, shouldn’t we be prepared for battle in spirit, soul and body? Shouldn’t we bind the strong man and take what he, Satan, has claimed as his own, by using all of the resources that God provides?