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 SEPTEMBER 2000
Welcome to the GMAF Newsletter! We pray it will encourage you in your Martial Arts and Outreach for Christ.
Thoughts from the Master
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
The Apostle Paul
“The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.”
In Times of Trouble by Mark McGee
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God’s children will experience times of trouble. One of the picture ideas of the Hebrew words for “tribulation and trouble” is of a person being in a narrow place and pressed hard on all sides. Have you felt that in your life? I’m sure you have because God said that everyone would experience tribulation and trouble in their lives. Some Hebrew words for “trouble” carry the idea of being seized suddenly with fear, to tremble and be terrified, to shake by a sudden impulse, to be confused, to be agitated, burdened and distressed, to be bent down, bowed, depressed with calamities, to be cut off. Every man and every woman has been troubled.
Jesus cared deeply for His disciples. He spent more time with them than anyone else on earth. Christ gave them insights into life that no one else knew until the disciples began sharing those insights after the Lord returned to Heaven. Shortly before Christ went to the Cross to die for the sins of humanity, He told His disciples that He had spoken to them that they would have peace in Him. Jesus went on to say, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” (John 16:33) The Greek word for “tribulation” means a pressing, a pressure, anything which burdens the spirit. It means to suffer affliction, to be troubled because of sufferings due to the pressure of circumstances or the antagonism of others. The Greek word is similar to the Hebrew word in its picture of someone in a narrow situation being pressed hard on all sides. Christ told His disciples they would have that kind of trouble in the world. That’s a fact. Write it on a piece of paper and tape it to your refrigerator door: you will have trouble in this world.
What do we do about it? Complain? Fret? Freak out? Get angry? Quit? Leave this world? Those are some options, though poor choices for God’s children. Christ told His disciples, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” That’s what we do; we depend on Christ and His peace. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.”
“But,” you ask, “how do I experience Christ’s peace when I’m pressed upon hard in all directions?” Good question. The answer is easy to say but hard to do: “Trust God.”
What good is our Faith in Christ if we lose it when things get a little tough, or when things get a lot tough? We say we “believe” in Christ. What does that mean? It means we completely rely on Him, not ourselves. We don’t trust anyone or anything other than Christ. We don’t look to our families or our friends or our jobs or our recreation or anything else to give us peace. We look to God! He is our Peace. “But,” you say, ” my life is falling apart around me, how do I trust God in the middle of disaster?” That’s exactly when we NEED to Trust in God; when we are bowed by pressure and affliction. When our strength runs out, we’re ready to depend on God’s Strength. When I am weak, He is Strong. No one is closer to you in times of trouble than Christ Jesus our Lord. Most of us have seen the picture of the footprints in the sand and the question from a child of God about why they see only one set of footprints during some of the Christian’s most troubled times. We remember with tears in our eyes the answer from our Heavenly Father that it was during those most difficult times that Christ picked us up in His Arms of Peace and carried us through tribulation.
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so also our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
I believe God placed a special burden on my heart about this. I’ve felt deeply about it for some time now. That’s always been God’s way of telling me He has some children in trouble who need support and encouragement. If you are feeling pressed about on all sides, if you are distressed and troubled, hear God’s Gentle Voice speaking to you right now. He will support you during you these times of trouble. He will carry you through to Victory. He will give you His Peace which passes all understanding. Our prayers and our love go with you.
What’s The Matter LORD? “You Are Karl”
Part Two by Pastor Karl Marx
Wow! Have I told you that God is about to Bless me again? On Sept 22-23 I will be inducted into the Texas LIVING LEGENDS at the Houston Southwest Hotel. God has been faithful and true. I owe it ALL to HIM. To be in the same company of the greatest Martial Art people in the World is indeed a Honor. Such dignitaries as: Mr Texas Himself Grandmaster Allen Steen, Fred ” whirlwind” Wren, Bill “Super foot ” Wallace, The absolute Queen of point karate, Ms Linda Denley, Roy Kurban, George “Master of ceremonies ” Minshew, Jim Harrison of the good old bare knuckles days, as well Grandmaster Jack Hwang, Dr Maung, Ray “Harley Biker man” Mcallum, Grandmaster Pat Burleson. This is just a few of the REAL LEGENDS, I’ll very humbly be in their company.
6th Dan Director of this entire event is the incomparable GARY LEE, himself a NBL World Champion. After all my fretting, complaining, and other prideful unchristian like poor behavior, it took my being able to sacrifice all my so called titles, and my willingness to let go of my wants, and allow God to give me what HE WILLED concerning my needs, so to speak. I realized I didn’t NEED any titles or atta boys I just Needed God. So all the poor me stuff, about how and why ( I ) wasn’t recognized by my peers, was for nothing, besides they, who in reality were not even in the same Class as these magnificent, TEXANICANS. ( a definition coined, I think, by Chill Wills Jr ). I am invited to join them at this most prestigious event and National Tournament. And I can assure you, I definitely feel out of my league. God must be teaching me to not depend on pleasing man, and seeking man’s esteem. But to totally rely on God and HE will esteem us in the eyes of man through Jesus Christ.
That is a Biblical statement found in Scriptures. So after reading my first part last month, does any one see any difference in my attitude? I would like to get some feed back from all of you out there. Don’t be fearful of hurting my feelings, you won’t. I just love the truth. Your council is welcomed. Tell me like it is! And if this is a little confusing please forgive me, my mind is not where it usually should be. I had some kind of allergic reaction last night and had to be taken to the emergency hospital. That’s twice in a month, ain’t insurance great. I think it was just the Lord giving me a test run. Ha! I can just hear Him saying to me, relax Karl it isn’t your time yet, this was just a test drill, like in the military. HA! God does have a since of humor.
Be Blessed those of you who take the time to read what I write. I hope I haven’t offended anyone, however if what I say is from God ( I HOPE ) and is the TRUTH, then I don’t apologize for God’s Word, I just say “GET A LIFE” Sucker! What you see is what you get! HA! just kidding, saint’s. The Lord Bless you all.
Just me and Jesus, getting along. In Christ I am, HIS servant. Old Soke Karl W. Marx Sr
Greetings Fellow Warriors by Shidoshi Russell
Recently, I have been asked by several people why I participate in the Martial Arts. Is it a hobby? Is it for the physical exercise? Is it to build self-confidence? Questions such as these cause me to reexamine my true motivation and ask myself; Why do I spend so much time in practice, training, and teaching? Is it really worth all of trouble, disappointment, and time away from my family?
If training in the martial arts was indeed simply to better myself and my ability to protect myself I would have to say that it is NOT worth all the blood, sweat, and tears. Why should I place such demands upon myself and commit to countless hours away from the comforts of my home and family?
Then I think wait a minute… I am part of an outreach ministry. My time spent in training in the martial arts is not about me… it’s about reaching others for Christ! The Christian Martial Arts Fellowship’s primary goal is multi-fold: To evangelize and bring lost souls into the Kingdom of God; To build and develop disciples for Christ; And to train and equip those disciples to bring others to Christ and repeat the cycle. Our secondary goal is to produce world-class, professionally trained martial artists.
While Christ preached to the multitudes and thousands followed His earthly ministry, our Lord literally poured Himself into lives of the twelve disciples. I relish the “insiders view” we enjoy while reading the words Jesus spoke only to His chosen few.
In today’s fast-moving culture, the responsibilities of life can at times seem overwhelming. In my 30 years as a Christian I have witnessed countless warriors who, though once on fire for Christ, suffered burnout and have abandoned the battle. Burnout is many times due to a lack of depth in one’s Christian walk. Improper discipleship will no doubt produce a shallow- rooted believer. As we serve God and work diligently to bring others to Christ, we must acknowledge the fact that our commission from Jesus does not end with soul winning.
Years ago while I was attending Indiana Bible College several of us “preacher boys” would have monthly soul winning contests. While winning souls is an admirable goal for anyone, we foolishly placed complete focus on people “praying the sinners prayer”. We carelessly abandoned the newly reborn soul, forcing them to fend for themselves against Satan who we know to always be lurking and waiting to attack. My heart sinks when I think about how many young Christians never grew and blossomed as a dedicated believer as a result of my lack of discipleship efforts.
Sometimes in our zeal to “save the world for Christ” we develop improper attitudes mingled with unattainable goals and expectations. When we demand too much of ourselves and others we tend to produce very little spiritual fruit. If one believes that he has the sole responsibility of reaching the world or perhaps just his own city, town, neighborhood, or block he may tend to accomplish very little since such demands made on any single person are rarely productive.
Paul’s exhortation in 2 Timothy 2:2 is a very simple formula for reaching others. Rather than trying to reach every person, Paul teaches that we should focus on reaching a few and developing them in the processes, principles, and practices of our faith. A person adequately developed in his faith will inevitably touch the lives of others… drawing them to Christ. Those he reaches will extend what they received to others over whom they have influence, et cetera.
I am convinced that the reason for our lack of witnessing to, and the discipling of, others is primarily due to the insecurities we feel in our own person, walk, and faith. Every believer undeniably has areas of his life concerning which he feels conviction, dissatisfaction, or a sense of failure. Such issues often cause the believer to falter in his walk, to be opaque in his testimony, and to draw back when confronted with the opportunity of witnessing Discipling others requires transparency in one’s walk. Failure to be transparent can result in a superficial, artificial, and non effectual witness.
Transparency requires one to openly be what he is. Obviously, none of us relishes the idea of openly exposing the inner dysfunctions of life. This, however, is a vital part of the discipling of others. To be a discipler predisposes that we not only recognize our frailties, but that we be determined to address them. Therefore, an essential part of discipling is that we recognize our failures, be willing to be transparent about them, and to not only show our disciplees that we are willing to address them but the process by which we go about it.
Such a process is the only logical way that the Apostle Paul could openly invite others to emulate his life as found in Philippians 4:9. This is the only convincing way to demonstrate our spiritual determination to those we are attempting to disciple.
If we carefully read 2 Timothy 2:2 our job is much larger than to simply make DISCIPLES of new believers… we are to make DISCIPLERS of them. Those whom we influence with the gospel are to be so convinced, converted, and committed that they will see every contact as a potential mission field. They will then begin their own process of so developing the spirituality of those persons that those persons in turn will do the same for others. This is the discipleship process as commanded by Jesus and defined by Paul.
The martial arts while appealing to most, doesn’t interest everyone. Martial arts does however attract an interesting kind of person that by other means may have never darkened the door of a church.
You are part of an exciting, cutting-edge ministry. Bottom line… the CMAF exists to glorify God, bring souls into His Kingdom, to produce not only disciples for Christ but disciple-makers! (now don’t you feel better about having to execute those 500 front snap kicks?!)”
Here is a new article from our friends at Faith Fighters for Christ Christian Martial Arts Ministry! We thank the Engelhardts for sharing this with us.
Martial Arts Ministry As Small Group Ministry by Charlaine & Don Engelhardt
Hanging out your sign with a Christian emblem or name does not a martial arts ministry make. Martial arts ministry happens when Christ is at the center of all that happens within the group of people in your school. One manner of doing this is using the small group concepts that are utilized within churches to help cement relationships of the group members with the Lord and with each other.
What is a small group?
Small group ministry, also called cell groups, is an extended ministry of your church. There are several types you may be able to think of, such as recovery groups, prayer groups, home Bible study groups, discipleship groups, etc. These are considered a direct ministry of your church because they either happen within your building or are located off-site, but have the same accountability within your church=s administrative structure. Indirect ministries of your church are the ministry of individuals from the church, but are not official ministries of the church. Such things as a prayer and Bible study time during lunch at work, Moms in Touch, and other small groups lead by individuals and/or couples by the leading of the Holy Spirit are indirect small groups.
There are different ministry goals of small groups. Recovery groups are specialized to meet very specific needs of the group members. They also remain confidential in their discussions, which means that “what is said there stays there” for the protection of the members. No one new is allowed to come in after two or three weeks. There are also less specific groups where the focus is Bible study and prayer, as well as a good time talking with each other. They are not usually confidential unless someone specifically asks for something to not be shared outside. More general groups do not officially close, allowing new people in either anytime or at intervals. Human nature has a tendency to close a group because of the comfort level, but will begin regrouping and gaining a different identity over time. Small group dynamics are based around building strong bonds within the membership.
There are elements that are specific to small groups making them relationship-building ministries. The aspects of small groups that are present at every meeting are: Prayer, Bible Study, fellowship, service, leadership- mentorship, multiplication, and guidelines for effective operation. Those things that build relationships with God are: prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and leadership-mentorship. The ones that build human relationships are: Bible study, fellowship, service, leadership-mentorship, multiplication, and guidelines for effective operation. The focus of the group determines how much of each of these is utilized. For example, with a prayer and Bible study group, prayer and Bible study get the majority of time and attention, even though all the other elements are present. Recovery groups are primarily focused on service and Bible study, but again the other elements are still present. They just do not get equal time and attention. One of the most important factors in all of this is that everyone who has the need for the focus of the group is welcome. The only thing that could cause them to be put out of the group is breach of trust. All of the aspects of small groups must be in use or the group will fail.
Martial arts is a natural setting in which to place the small group ministry aspects. Since traditional martial arts, operated like that of the Asian countries, is primarily based on Zen and Taosim, most of the small group aspects are all ready there, but with Eastern religion. There is order and structure with rules for belonging to the group. There is a defined leadership set-up.
Martial arts ministry is more than teaching techniques. Unfortunately, balance is not always kept in martial arts ministry. It does not matter whether your school is in a church, a commercial school, or study/fellowship group after karate class in a secular school, keeping balance with the techniques as well as the ministry aspect is of primary importance. Remember, most of us practice arts that were originally intertwined with Zen, Taoism, and/or Shintoism. There was balance for them because their belief system was a part of all they did in life. Unfortunately, American Christians compartmentalize different aspects of their lives. This sort of lifestyle makes balance difficult. Our entire workout time in class should be a form of worship to God. There should be an aspect of thanksgiving and praise to God internally as we punch, kick, block, etc. When we invite God into our classes, being an integral part, then can we begin to balance ministry with our training. Our first focus is on God, then on others, and finally self. This order must be kept for effective ministry.
Types of Martial Arts Ministry
There are several types of martial arts ministry: church-based, commercial school, outreach/support in a secular school, associations, and tournament circuits. This article is focused on the first three types because this is in our realm of understanding and small group ministry needs consistent, regular meeting times. If you have figured out how to use small group ministry through associations and tournament circuits, let us know. Each group will be different because it will reflect the personality differences and spiritual gifts of the leadership.
The church-based or youth center-styled martial arts ministry is actually the easiest to set up in small group format. The primary group of people who will have an interest in Christian martial arts in a church are Christians. The main ministry focus becomes discipleship, even though evangelism will be greatly emphasized. Many of the church-based groups are either family-oriented (ours runs ages 10-adult) or youth-oriented (a friend has his aimed at ages 12-18). There is structure set with the protocol and heirarchial structure that is found in martial arts classes, but some things may be different like a salute rather than bowing, using Mr. or Mrs. instead of Sensei or Sifu , and bowing to the room or pictures may be deleted. Usually there are devotions or Bible study as a break from intense physical activity. Fellowship time occurs before and after class as students gather and part. Outreach happens when new students come in, but mostly through demonstrations and seminars. One problem in the general martial arts world is that these types of groups are seen as having substandard skills and believe there are too many inadequate black belts coming from these settings. Reality is the majority of ministry instructors are very conscientious about the art they pass on to their students. We have found that it is very difficult to get Christian students to be bold, developing a reasonable amount of aggression because of fallacies passed down through well-meaning Christians. This is quite a challenge for this type of instructor to work with. (In our opinion, secular martial arts classes are a problem in the church. They should not be allowed to use the church space. These tend to add confusion in the church’s teachings.) There should only be Christian-based teaching in the church, which the small groups ministry format can aid.
Many instructors use the commercial school to reach people for Christ while they pass on the benefits of their systems of martial arts. This is the environment in which they have come to know and love karate, judo, jujitsu, kempo, and others. But this is more difficult setting to bring in small group ministry aspects. However, it is not impossible. Some schools have Scripture verses to memorize, others use creeds to remind the class whom they serve. Some pray as a group. Yet others offer Bible study and fellowship time after or between classes. Some instructors have parties, fellowship times in the evenings after classes, or special gatherings. During the instruction time, the students learn how Christians should respond in confrontations, whether or not to use lethal force, or the wonders of God’s creation of the human body. There are always rules and guidelines to be followed with the consequences for those who choose not to cooperate. These things are all aspects of small group ministry in a commercial martial arts setting.
Christians in secular schools do minister to other students in their classes. They usually are able to reach out because of instructors who are willing to accept that these students have problems observing some protocols and teachings. Their witness is a relationship-based evangelism. Some obtain permission from instructors to hold Bible study and prayer after class. These become a small group since they meet the needs of other Christians in the class for fellowship and prayer support. They reach out to non-Christians by acceptance in the group, giving them an opportunity to learn about the Lord. Small group ministry for martial artists in secular schools, although we do not have experience with it, many others have told us is a growing trend in ministry.
How Do I Begin?
The first place to begin is with your own life. It is impossible to minister effectively if your own spiritual life is anorexic. Martial artists who come to Christ after they have been in training tend to have more trouble integrating Christian teaching into their art. People like ourselves who come into martial arts after having been Christians for a while have less trouble because the secular teachings are scrutinized through Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Some things will come through from their secular training, but these martial artists are also more open to constructive criticism. Be sure to participate in Sunday school and worship in a vibrant church. Some churches offer lay leader training that may be beneficial to you. Prayer and devotional time is your intimate time to converse with the Lord. It becomes a two-way communication that flows, permeating your entire life. It is also very important to have the majority of your close friends, especially for martial arts that some are Christian martial artists. You can share common cares and concerns as well as help each other with problems. If you do not have this type of relationship available, Christian associations can help fill that area for you. A healthy Christian lifestyle will be reflected in your ministry.
The next natural step would be housecleaning your system. Most martial artists teach as they have been taught. This is true in ministry as well. For example, our instructor had transliterated the Bushido concept as the way of the Christian warrior. A wise Christian brother in our church who had been in Japan during WWII came to us concerned about this term on a newsletter we put out. When he explained the Bushido mindset he encountered first- hand in Japan, we realized that we needed to examine what we had been taught more closely. Our instructor had been teaching us from a Christian perspective, but he trained in a traditional secular school before he was a Christian. This was some baggage he passed onto us, which we needed to examine. You can get help with housecleaning from our article “A Little Bit of Sin is Never In”. Also, talk with others who have been ministering for quite a while. They can help you, too.
The last step of the process is to build a Small Group Framework. Write out your class format step by step. List the elements of small groups and prayerfully examine the two in order to determine how this will work for your ministry. For secular school students, simply check for interest level and find an appropriate Bible study area and curriculum. Get permission from your instructor to hold such a group after class. If he will not agree to this, you may want to start a small home group for classmates. Then just begin. Your pastor or a Sunday school teacher may be able to help you with either of these types of groups. Get the resources you need, whether it be Scripture memory cards, web articles, or study guides. Gather ideas from others as your go and share your successes with others in martial arts ministry. The Lord will bless the heartfelt, Spirit-led ministry you do.
Resources: Turbo Small Group Leadership Training Manual, Getting Together by Em Griffin, and Small Groups class at Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, Ohio. There are several fine books in small group ministry at your local Christian bookstore.
Special thanks to Royal Reynolds, President of Koininia Fellowship of Martial Artists; Fred Murphy, President of Black Belts of the Faith; Lou Blizzard, head instructor of Lion Fist Kempo; Jeff and Diane Goodwin, head instructors of Family Martial Arts and Fitness; Rick and Pam McDowell, head instructors of Defiance Christian Martial Arts; Dr. Daryl Covington, founder of Wha Moo Do and Hall of Fame inductee in the United States Martial Arts Association; Herschel Schenk, Head instructor of Awase Kenpo Kai; and David Clinard, President of Fellowship of Christian Martial Artists. We also thank the many brothers and sisters in Christ who e-mail us, sharing with us how the Lord is using them in martial arts ministry. May the Lord bless you abundantly!
Here are some more martial arts games for children students from Sa Bom Nim Connie Gulick.
Here are some circle game ideas:
For younger children (or even a mix), we circle up with a little space between each other (about a foot), kneel down with our faces on the floor, then one person from the circle gets up and bunny hops (two feet at once) over each person. Ideally, the better students will be managing one hop between each person without pause, but the beginner students sometimes have to manage other ways. If the student is particularly small, she may hop over with one foot at a time, or put her hand on the person’s back, or even go around. I don’t know why, but the kids love it.
Another one we call “Circle of Doom.” One person is “it” and in the center. The people around number off in order. I call out numbers at random and the person with that number can do a pre-arranged attack to the person in the center (for example, we can say all attacks must be a round kick). If “it” has trouble knowing where the attack is coming from, we have the attacker yell BEFORE moving. You may also add a punch to the block.
A third idea is “Pass it on.” I start with a kick (for example) to the person to my right who must block it then turn and do the same kick to the person to his right, so the kick gets passed on. As we do better and pick up speed, I vary it by reversing directions, changing techniques, etc. The ultimate variation is to — once passing a kick to the right — start a different technique to the left. Talk about challenge!
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