Grace Martial Arts Fellowship began in 1990, went online with a website in 1995 and began publishing newsletters to the Christian martial arts community in 1998.
Because of the quality of information found in those early newsletter articles and the fact they are no longer available online, we’ve decided to re-publish many of them in the coming weeks and months. Our hope is that a new generation of Christian martial artists will be blessed by the wisdom of those who were on the path before them.
Welcome to the GMAF Newsletter! We pray it will encourage you in your Martial Arts and Outreach for Christ.
THOUGHTS FROM THE MASTER
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”
The Apostle Paul
“Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.” (Psalm 68:20)
CHRISTIANITY AND THE MARTIAL ARTS
Here are some thoughts about this important subject from a GMAF member.
“I find no conflict of any kind between my faith and my involvement in the martial arts. I look at it as an opportunity to develop friendships, get in shape, take care of this body that God has given me, and learn techniqies that may allow me to protect myself, someone I love, or even a total stranger someday if the need presents itself. In fact, I met one of my most cherished friends and brothers in Christ as a result of starting to study the martial arts.
Our Master said in Luke 22:36, “He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. ” This verse tells me that Christ is clearly in favor of us having the ability to defend ourselves. I cannot count how many times the Israelites were involved in warfare, and the battle we fight with Satan and his demons is compared to a war in several places as well; see 2 Cor 10:1-6, 1 Peter 2:11, and Ephesians 6:10-18 for examples. In the last passage listed here, interestingly enough, the apostle Paul compares the spiritual preparation a Christian goes through to the armor and weapons carried by a Roman soldier.
I do study two of the most violent arts I know of; they are jujitsu and kung fu. My jujitsu instructor is an ordained Christian minister and my kung fu instructor has told me openly that he will not force me to learn anything I am uncomfortable with. However, I feel that as long as one distances him/ herself from the esoteric, spiritual side of the martial arts as much as possible, there is no problem in studying them. I am not deeply involved in the spiritual side of the arts, and my exposure to that has been limited strictly to the practice of chi kung exercises.”
Donald R. Holmes II
Here is an interesting story Bill Pitcher sent to us. The spiritual point is clear.
“I read recently the story of a 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.
The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training, the master had taught him only one move.
“Sensei,” the boy finally said, “shouldn’t I be learning more moves?”
This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” the Sensei replied. Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training.
Several months later, the Sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match.
Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals. This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the Sensei intervened. “No,” the Sensei insisted, “let him continue.”
Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion.
On the way home, the boy and the Sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind: “Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?”
You won for two reasons,” the Sensei answered. “First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”
The boy’s biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.
We don’t often view our weaknesses in the same way, but we should. I am reminded of the time that Paul prayed fervently for God to remove some affliction unknown to us, what he called a “thorn in the flesh.” Refusing to remove it, God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9).
That seems to make no sense, and yet we see throughout the Bible how God is able to work despite the weaknesses of men and women, showing forth his power — David with his small stature against Goliath the giant, Gideon a man of no significant background leading a greatly outnumbered band of men, Jesus taking on humanity in the form of a helpless baby. In fact, the greatest demonstrations of God’s power have come when men and women have felt the weakest. Remember that the next time you feel inadequate.”
“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me….For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9b-10).
BUILDING BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT
“Mokuso.” “Muk Nyum.” “Meditation.” Many people say it is a vital part of martial science. Some call the martial arts “moving meditation.” Many young students are told meditation is important to achieving “enlightenment.” Zen meditation includes focusing thoughts on a single point, repeating a sound or word, praying to deities and practicing martial arts. What should Christians do when the teacher calls them to meditate? God has not left us to wonder! He has instructed us in the deepest form of meditation.
First, a little background on meditation. The idea of the word in the Bible is “to consider, weigh or ponder over something so as to be able to perform well.” Meditation comes from words that mean “to care for, to concern oneself, to speak to oneself.” What should a Christian martial artist consider, weigh or ponder? What should we care for and concern ourselves about when we meditate? What should we say to ourselves as we meditate? God’s Word gives us the answer.
Joshua was one of Israel’s greatest leaders and warriors. He and the army of Israel killed thousands of enemies and conquered more than 30 kingdoms. How did Joshua do it? Before Joshua fought his battles, God told him what to do. Here was Joshua’s secret.
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
When we meditate, we can and should meditate (consider, weigh, ponder) on God and His Word. Consider a verse or principle of God’s Word. Think about it, ponder it, weigh it in your heart and mind. Ask God’s Spirit to reveal deeper insight to you as you meditate on Him.
Other parts of God’s Word tell us the same thing.
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”
“Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.”
“I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.”
“May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts.”
“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”
“I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.”
“My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.”
What else about God can we ponder during meditation? His Power, His Majesty, His Great and Mighty Deeds!
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.”
“Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.”
“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider wht your hands have done.”
“They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.”
“I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.”
The greatest truth we can meditate upon is God’s Unfailing Love.
“Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.”
The Apostle Paul directed Pastor Timothy in the art of Christian meditation. It is an excellent guide for us.
“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.”
1 Timothy 4:13-15
This concept gives new meaning to the idea of “meditation” as a Christian martial artist. When it’s time to meditate, consider the heighth of Truth in God’s Word. Weigh the depth of the Mighty Deeds of His Hands. Ponder the length and width of His Unfailing Love for you and others. See God seated on His Heavenly Throne. Hear His Loving Voice. Feel His Grace and Mercy on your life. See Jesus on the Cross. Hear His Words of forgiveness. Feel the pain He experienced on your behalf. See Jesus rise from the grave. Hear His Words of Love for all who would follow Him. Feel the riches of His Grace.
Should Christian martial artists participate in meditation? Absolutely! To the Praise and Honor of God our Savior!
May our prayer be that of the Psalmist.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Taking God’s Grace to the World!
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