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.
GMAF NEWSLETTER JULY 2000
Welcome to the GMAF Newsletter! We pray it will encourage you in your Martial Arts and Outreach for Christ.
Thoughts from the Master
“They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
The Apostle Paul
“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. ”
Be Still and Know
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Psalmist wrote these words in the context of believers experiencing great trouble in their lives.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.”
Everyone I know faces tough times in their lives. That includes Christians and martial artists. What is the secret to being calm during the storms of life?
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
What does it mean to “be still?” The Hebrew words for “still” have the meaning of being “silent, relaxed, quiet.” Definitions include “to recline, cease from troubling.” What a wonderful word is “still.”
King David was a man of great passions: physical, emotional and spiritual. He faced thousands of enemies in his lifetime and killed many of them in hand-to-hand combat. David was a martial artist of great skill. He was also a troubled man, like most men. The Old Testament writings about David give us great insight into how dependent on God he was during troubled times.
“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou has enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah. But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”
David’s advice during distress and trouble? “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” The word “commune” means to “speak with oneself, meditate.” David’s advice to God’s people who are going through tough times is to “meditate and relax.” The Hebrew concept of the “heart”was as the seat of feeling and affections in addition to the seat of intelect and included mind, purpose, intention, understanding, knowledge, insight, courage and spirit. David recommends that people meditate deeply in a private place (upon your bed) for a period of time that would allow them to”be still”.
About what should we meditate? “…know that I am God.” The word “know”in Psalm 46:10 means “to come to the knowledge of, by seeing, by hearing, and by experiencing.” How do we “see” God? How do we “hear” God? How do we “experience” God? “Be still, and know…” It is through quietness and relaxation of the mind and heart that we can “know” God. A deep knowledge about God will lead us to understand that God “will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” We have nothing to fear from our enemies. God will be exalted among the heathen. He will be exalted in the earth. That is what we “know.”
David began Psalm 46 with “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” David ends the Psalm with “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” That was a great calming factor for David and the people of Israel. It should have a calming effect on us today.
One of the most difficult things for people to do today is relax and meditate.
People search for physical and mental relaxation through drugs, alcohol, sex, , new age spiritism, escapism and other things that have negative results. Relax is a “secret word” in martial arts. We relax the mind, body and spirit before we practice. We learn that increased energy, power and speed come from being relaxed mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
As martial artists we can translate that ability to relax and calm our mind and body into every area of our lives. We can teach others to do the same. What a Christian martial artist can do that others cannot is lead people to “be still, and know…God.” It is a privilege and responsibility we celebrate with thanks to our Heavenly Father Who has taught us to quiet our hearts and minds and experience His Love and Grace in all its fullness.
Our prayers are with you this month as you are still and know that He is God.
Former Victims in Christian Martial Arts
By Sensei Charlaine Engelhardt
(Note: Our thanks to Don & Charlaine Engelhardt for allowing us to reprint this article from their Faith Fighters for Christ website at http:// http://www.angelfire.com/oh/ff4christ/)
“Martial arts attracts all kinds of people. Each person has a specific reason for training. But one of the most prevalent types of people who show up for instruction are former victims-ranging from childhood abuse to domestic violence. These people are usually looking to keep the abuse from happening again. Some people bring their children in hopes that they will learn self-defense and confidence to avoid the problems of the parents. But Christian martial arts, because of the caring, accepting aspect brought by our relationship with Jesus Christ, definitely is an important avenue of healing for some former victims.
Former victims look for control over their own lives. Whether a person was abused as a child, mugged as an adult, or was brutalized by a spouse, someone who has been a victim lost a tremendous amount of control about themselves. Mental manipulation is also a very common abuse. This, first, brings a person to question one’s own judgement. It does not matter whether it is a one-time confrontation or several years of abuse, there is now a lot of mental and emotional confusion, which distorts the person’s “alarm system” for danger. Without that internal discernment coupled with horrible memories, the former victim is always on guard for his or her own safety.
Physical and sexual abuses stick in the memory of the survivor for the rest of that person’s life. He or she would do whatever possible to avoid having this happen ever again. Sometimes, a new student will come in actually wanting to be able to learn skills to exact revenge upon his abusers. There are women who will come into a karate school in order to learn how to keep their husbands from harming them. Many are either combative (reactionary) or very fearful. They simply want to gain control over their own bodies and lives.
Combatives and exercise are usually a stress release for survivors of abuse and/or assault. If the person feels the environment is a safe one in which to learn, then experimentation during instruction will happen. During this time, the survivor will be getting physical exercise that helps release pent up energy. Any reasonable workout routine will help, but martial arts was the choice of this person-probably the first independent decision made for a very long time. Being able to punch and kick, yell, learn joint locks and pressure points aids the survivor in working through some emotions that are either explosive or have been repressed. For anyone who has lost control of one’s life, there is a tremendous amount of tension and energy released.
Everyone needs to be loved and accepted. Failure to thrive in infants is known to end the lives of countless babies. But I dare to say that many youth and adults are simply empty shells walking around, trying to get through what life throws at them. Without being encouraged or lifted up, most give up. However, when the survivor finds acceptance and encouragement at a Christian martial arts school/ministry, this person has the opportunity to blossom. The love of Christ exhibited in the instructors and other students fill up that empty area in this student’s life. If a school is performance-based and the instructor is out to make a buck, then “failure to thrive” continues. This is not to say that everything the student does or says is acceptable. But that the person is always acceptable, regardless of the baggage that comes in. The behavior changes over time. Love and acceptance is crucial to the successful growth of the survivor. The survivor then becomes a Victor in Christ.
Signs of Concern
Reading the signs of former abuse or assault is important in reaching these hurting people. Whether you are a survivor, an instructor, or an interested student, this checklist will be valuable to your understanding:
* Either very shy, not looking anyone in the eye for any length of time, or very outgoing to flamboyant, using eye contact as a control measure.
* Either eager to learn and to please or “already knows everything there is to know about karate”.
* Lack luster in the workouts and wants to “hide” behind others or boldly placing oneself in front and center of everyone for attention, trying to impress anyone who will pay attention.
* Very jumpy at loud noises and and skiddish in confrontation during sparring or self-defense. Or the survivor is not startled by sounds that catch the attention of most other people and are overly aggressive in confrontation during sparring or self-defense.
* Tends to fixate on self-protection. Personal habits are to an extreme in the area of personal safety than the normal, or personal safety is disregarded as if the person wants to be attacked.
* Will at some point insist that the techniques cannot possibly work, challenging the instructor to demonstrate it in supposedly realistic conditions. Some will go so far as to “attack” the instructor or senior student, disregarding the safeties that must be in place for training. This is very dangerous!
* Some “check out” during an aggressive bout, which is a survival mechanism to protect the person’s emotional and mental state. This person could be injured and never feel or acknowledge it until the stressor is over. This is called disassociation.
* Some all of a sudden get glazed over eyes and flail at the opponent. This is usually a flashback-mentally the student is in another time and place that reminds them of some former attack.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it should serve as a helpful guide. Survivors usually suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, also known as shellshock. They operate in extremes, which is why these bullet points are listed with “or” on most of them. Many do not know what it means to have balance in life because it was never exemplified. Some lost balance in their lives because their sensibility and discernment was called into question; everything in his or her life’s paradigm was harshly tested.
Have You Been A Victim Before?
If this list describes you and you realize you have been a victim, then seek sound Christian counsel. Talk to your pastor or to a trusted Christian friend. Ask them for information regarding a licensed clinical Christian counselor or for a support group in a church that has a good reputation. Go to a good Christ-centered church for Sunday school and worship. Surround yourself with loving, caring people, not those who hurt or manipulate you. Be teachable in your martial arts school, provided that the instructors are trustworthy. If not, then find another school. Also, remember that not everyone is perfect. Do not feel jaded because the instructor, senior student, or someone else you look up to makes a mistake. Everyone is a sinner and saved by grace. Stick with those who try hard to live by God’s standards and are also teachable. You are too valuable to live the life of a doormat.
Students and Instructors Can Minister to Former Victims
So what can you do to minister to people who have been hurt so badly? It depends on what role you play in your school/ministry. If you are another student, befriend new students when they come in. Everyone needs to know they are welcome regardless of their backgrounds. Find one person that displays these symptoms and care about them. Listen to their concerns. Encourage them. Do not let them bully you or someone else. Point them to the Lord through prayer, Scripture, and your own life’s example. Help them with their techniques that are tough for them to learn. Your friendship is the most important thing you can give a survivor.
If you are an instructor, there is a lot more that rests on you. Survivors will either distrust you or put you on a pedestal-the only way happens to be down, by the way. It is never good to be any student’s buddy. But you can become a mentor or set them up with other students as mentors. Show the same interest you would to anyone else in your class. Keep firm, but healthy boundaries set-and enforce them graciously. Stop or reset spars when flashbacks occur or when they look overwhelmed. These students need to be able to regroup their thoughts and composure. Give them responsibilities with which they can succeed. Adjust these responsibilities as their abilities improve. Always show the Bible as a standard for all of life and Jesus as Savior and Lord in your own life. Point them to good, solid churches for guidance and direction. Nothing speaks louder than the example of someone who is a role model. What they see in you they will want to imitate.
This article is the result of my own experiences as a student and instructor, as well as from research done for my college English paper regarding biblically-based counseling being best for domestic violence survivors.
References to check:
Ochberg, Frank M. Gift from Within. Posttraumatic Therapy. Psychotheraphy, vol. 28.No.1. Spring 1991. http://soucemaine.com/gift/ trauma.html.
Diehl, Emily Spence, MSW. Psychobiology of Trauma. Forida State University. http://www.fiu.edu/~victimad/psyart.html.
Thomas, Rachel G. Spiritual Comfort Can Help Heal Some Wounds. The Standard-Times. http://www.s-t.com/projects/DomVio/ spiritualcomfort.HTML.
Olsen, Kathy. Silent Pain.Copyright 1992 by Kathy Olsen. NavPress, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Rentschler, Ray. Personal Protection Concepts website. http://www.americanninjutsu.com.
My Cup Has Overflowed
We thank Soke Karl Marx for forwarding to us this wonderful poem.
“I’ve never made a fortune and it’s probably too late now. But I don’t worry about that much, I’m happy anyhow.
And as I go along life’s way, I’m reaping better than I sowed. I’m drinking from my saucer, ‘Cause my cup has overflowed.
Haven’t got a lot of riches, and sometimes the going’s tough. But I’ve got loving ones around me, and that makes me rich enough.
I thank God for his blessings, and the mercies He’s bestowed. I’m drinking from my saucer, ’cause my cup has overflowed.
O, Remember times when things went wrong, My faith wore somewhat thin.
But all at once the dark clouds broke, and sun peeped through again.
So Lord, help me not to gripe about the tough rows that I’ve hoed. I’m drinking from my saucer, “Cause my cup has overflowed. If God gives me strength and courage, When the way grows steep and rough. I’ll not ask for other blessings, I’m already blessed enough.
And may I never be too busy, to help others bear their loads. Then I’ll keep drinking from my saucer, “Cause my cup has overflowed.”
Here’s To Common Sense
Thanks to Pastor David Havard for sending this to us.
“Today I am mourning the passing of an old friend by the name of Common Sense.
Common Sense, AKA C.S., lived a long life but died from heart failure at the brink of the millennium. No one really knows how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He selflessly devoted his life to service in schools, hospitals, homes, factories and offices, helping folks get jobs done without fanfare and foolishness.
For decades, petty rules, silly laws and frivolous lawsuits held no power over C.S. He was credited with cultivating such valued lessons as to know when to come in out of the rain, the early bird gets the worm, and life isn’t always fair.
C.S. lived by sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn) and reliable teaching and parenting strategies (the adult is in charge, not the kid).
A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, and the Technological Revolution, C.S. survived cultural and educational trends including feminism, body piercing, whole language and “new” math. But his health declined when he became infected with the “If-It-Only-Helps-One- Person-It’s-Worth-It” virus.
In recent decades his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of overbearing federal regulations. He watched in pain as good people became ruled by self-seeking lawyers and enlightened auditors. His health rapidly deteriorated as schools mindlessly implemented zero tolerance policies. Reports of 6 year old boys charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, a teen suspended for taking a swig of mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student.
Finally, C.S. lost his will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses, criminals received better treatment than victims, and federal judges stuck their noses in everything from Boy Scouts to professional sports. As the end neared, C.S. drifted in and out of logic but was kept informed of developments regarding questionable regulations for asbestos, low flow toilets, “smart” guns and mandatory air bags.
Finally, when told that homeowners association restricted exterior furniture only to that which enhanced property values, he breathed his last breath.
C.S. was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his Son, Reason. He is survived by three step-brothers, Rights, Tolerance, and Whiner. Few attended his funeral, because so few realized he was gone. “
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