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 DECEMBER 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 be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”
“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
The Apostle Paul
” Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”
“No Surprise” by Mark McGee
Sin to the left of us — Sin to the right of us — Sin in front and behind — Sin above and below. Everywhere we look we see sin and sinners. We hear the shocking sounds of cursing mouths and lying tongues. Robbers and thieves wait around every corner for their next victim. Men beat their wives. Women murder their husbands. Children have sex with other children . Men and women live together without being married. Legal abortions kill thousands of babies. Divorce is on the rise. Government leaders lie, cheat and steal to increase their power. What’s gone wrong?
The events swirling around us every day should come as “no surprise” to students of the Bible. Satan’s power is growing. The Apostle Paul wrote the Ephesians more than 1,900 years ago that every person was born dead in trespasses and sins. All of us once lived our lives under the dominance of Satan. We made decisions based on the lusts of our flesh. We fulfilled the desires of our flesh and mind. What kept us from becoming just like everyone else around us was the Amazing Love and Grace of God. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).” Even people who received Christ as young children had the terrible sin nature that could have led them into the depths of wickedness if they had become teens and adults without Christ. God’s Grace was just as amazing with a sinful little child as with the worst sinful adult you can imagine. “There but for the Grace of God go I” is a saying worth considering when we wonder how things in our community could have become so bad. Sinners have only one direction to go: “the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”
God does not want His children to participate in the sinful ways of this wicked world. In fact, God wants us to reprove them. “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” (Ephesians 5:6-12) God does not leave us wondering what the unfruitful works of darkness are. His Word gives us a long list. Here are several examples from Ephesians and Galatians:
- “putting away lying”
- “Be ye angry, and sin not”
- “Neither give place to the devil”
- “Let him that stole steal no more”
- “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth” “grieve not the holy Spirit of God”
- “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice”
- “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings.”
These are things we should reprove rather than do. That’s a good thing, but something we shouldn’t do is to believe that being fortunate enough to have received God’s Grace makes us better than those who haven’t. That’s a bad thing. The Love of God will grip our hearts and minds and constrain us to share His Love with those who are dead in sin. Sin is not pretty. It’s not easy to be around when you’ve spent years having little or no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. A danger of being a “saint” is believing we are better than people who aren’t. That thinking can lead Christians to remove themselves from being around sinners. We learn what God thinks about that from the way He prayed for His disciples centuries ago: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. “
Christ wanted His disciples protected from evil as they went about ministering in the world. A key here is “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. ” Christ wanted His followers to do just as He did. Christ spent more time with sinners than He did the religious and self-righteous. Christ ate with sinners, walked with sinners, talked with sinners, touched sinners, prayed for sinners, wept for sinners. Jesus Christ loves sinners. Sinners were why He came into the world. He came to change their lives through the Amazing Power of His Life. He sent His disciples into the world with that same purpose.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
Every Christian has a ministry. It is reconciliation. We are ambassadors for Christ. We speak for Him on Earth. We are His representatives to all the people of this planet.
One thing we need to understand as ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation is what sin does to people as they continue in it year after year. We should not be surprised that sinners sin. We should not be repelled by it. We should go forward and serve God by telling sinners how they can be saved. Tell sinners how God saved you. That’s what Paul did. He told his story everywhere. He made sure everyone knew that he was the chief of sinners and had experienced the Amazing Love and Grace of Almighty God through His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Paul pulled no punches. He did not pretend to be better than anyone. He was not surprised by the actions of sinful people. He understood. He knew what sin had done to him and what it did to others. Paul told the Ephesians to imitate God as children imitated their parents. “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Christ sacrificed Himself for sinners. Paul told Christians they should imitate that sacrifice. Paul went on to write that sin should not be part of a Christian’s life and that we should reprove the unfruitful works of darkness, but he always reminded saints of God to love sinners and to spend their lives in the ministry of seeing lost souls reconciled to God.
Let’s surprise some sinners in the coming year with our love and forgiveness. Let’s show the lost the Grace and saving power of God in the difficult days that are ahead of us. Satan’s power is growing. His hold on this planet is getting stronger. We may be living in the final days before Christ’s return. That possibility should push us forward with even more determination that we will serve God to the death if necessary. Satan is counting on Christians to grow weary, lose interest, give up. Let’s surprise Satan with our determination, our love, our desire to serve God and the lost. Great things are ahead for those who move with God. He is the Victor. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
New Beginnings by Pastor Don Engelhardt
It is never easy to start a martial arts school. We have found ourselves starting from scratch more than we would like, but there are some benefits to starting over. If you visited our Service page, you probably noticed that we do not currently have classes in operation. In the relatively short time that we have been instructing, we are preparing to begin our third school.
We initially began a school in Findlay, Ohio while I was in seminary. We pattern our class after the class of our instructor. We used the same teaching style and very close to the same vocabulary. We discovered that the community was not the same as the community where we were trained and the teaching methods were not as effective with the people of the new community. We altered our teaching methods slightly and in the course of the first year, we had over fifty students, due to our situation, we needed to form a waiting list for the classes we were teaching at the time. During the three years in Findlay, we relocated the classes four times. We held classes in a church, the seminary, a storefront, and returned to the seminary. Our Findlay classes continued for a year after we moved an hour away. We constantly were evaluating our teaching styles and techniques every time we held a belt test. We determined what needed to be strengthened and would emphasize that during the period between tests, but found out rapidly that it is difficult to strengthen areas that were allowed to become weak.
By the time we closed the Findlay classes, we had begun a new set of classes at our church in Elmore, Ohio. We used the information we discovered from the experiences in Findlay when we started the class. Our teaching methods were changed and much of our focus also changed. The location of the class at the church was rural, but we were still able to develop in less than a year a class of twenty-five students. Again, we evaluated our teaching by the students’ belt tests. There were still some weak areas, but we had seen a marked improvement.
God has called us to the Canton, Ohio area. This area has a strong presence of the PKC and there appears to be a high density of martial arts classes as well. There does not appear to be a need for another martial arts class in the community, but there appears to be a need for a martial arts ministry. So we are looking at a new start both in the church where God has led us and in martial arts ministry. With this situation of begin a new adventure in our lives, I have been thinking a considerable amount about “beginnings.”
There are two books in Scripture that begin with “in the beginning.” The first is Genesis that begins with the creation of the world. The second is in the Gospel according to John. Both of these books focus on beginnings. The book of Genesis tells of how humanity turned and started moving away from God and how the relationship between God and humanity deteriorated because of sin. It tells of how God slowed the ruin of humanity. In John, the creation of the world is also discussed. Here though the focus is not on the destruction of the relationship between God and humanity, but instead the restoration of the relationship. This is a place where a true new beginning may be found.
This short segment of Scripture sets one of the foundational aspects of our faith. This concept, theologians have labeled the “Incarnation” or the combination of two natures. This is one of the primary passages that shows Jesus as both God and human. Looking at verse 14, we find that “The Word became flesh” and lived among us. This is a description what Jesus Christ did. He became flesh or in terms more common to us, He became human. Verse 17 confirms the Word being the person of Jesus Christ and not someone or some thing else.
Now, we can get a fuller picture of understanding by replacing “The Word” with “Jesus Christ” in this passage. It would then read something like this:
In the beginning was Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ was with God, and Jesus Christ was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Jesus is God and is life. Life begins with Jesus Christ for He is the source of life. Rejecting the source of life is to accept death in its stead.
You may meet up with people who have trouble accepting that Jesus Christ is both God and man, and say that He was either God in a human form or a man that was greatly endowed by God to do great wonders. Some say that Jesus is the Son of God, but that prevents Him in their mind from fully being God. Jesus has affected everyone who has met Him even those that rejected Him. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not understand it.”
It has always been interesting to me that the people who had the most knowledge about God rejected Jesus. Verse 11 tells us that He came to those who were His own, but they did not receive Him. These were the people who knew about Him and carried the responsibility to teach others about Him, but they missed Him and did not recognize Him.
We find in the 3rd chapter the phrase that is frequently quoted “you must be born again,” which confused Nicodemas. Jesus was speaking of a spiritual birth that would be the new beginning that we need as sinful people. The first beginning showed God’s justice and mercy through the law, but this new beginning is focused on grace and truth.
In the midst of this new start, we again renew our focus that it is necessary for individuals to have the new life that is found in Christ Jesus.
We recently asked a question on the International Network of Christian Martial Artist Forum about Christians drawing blood during training or tournaments. Here are some of the answers we received.
“In our discussion of whether or not to draw blood, someone made a comment concerning getting hit. It was a very perceptive comment, and demonstrated the real-life nature of the author’s philosophy of martial arts. The comment went something like: If a student has never practiced full- contact, then they will probably lose a fight as soon as they get hit that first time.
This is a common point of discussion among those of us who are concerned with the street value of our techniques. How can we prepare ourselves for that first hit? Of course, full-contact sparring is just one way to get over the shock of initial contact in a fight. I’m curious whether or not anyone has any ideas about OTHER ways to prepare for this inevitable event. This might include “dragon breathing” “iron shirt” , etc… but I’d like to know how everyone deals with this in their own schools.
I’m afraid that too many schools teach the technique of “False sense of security.” This technique, of course, doesn’t usually work out very well on the street. It is also unnecessary since I’m sure there are many disciplines (aside from full-contact sparring) which can be utilized even among children to at least mentally condition and prepare them for being on the receiving end of a good sucker punch.
While I’ve come to realize that my school, for a variety of reasons (not the least of which being the age and maturity of my students), is often more physical than many others, I want to share a little truth I’ve found. In my school, and I know this will sound absolutely awful but bear with me, we actually make a jocular “celebration” of someone’s “first blood.” When someone gets hit really hard or knocked down hard, or gets a nose broken or something for the first time ever, we usually end class by getting a couple of cokes or ice cream or something and laughing it off. I’ve found that your students’ devotion to the arts multiplies tenfold when they get over the double handicap of no contact. The two big problems I’ve found with students who have never actually been hit are:
1. They aren’t scared ENOUGH of getting hit. They are unrealistic in their confidence. The believe that they will simply shrug off a solid punch to the face or something like it.
2. They are TOO SCARED of getting hit. They are not aggressive at all, and are handicapped by their own lack of ranging ability and lack of ability to close on an opponent.
I hope everyone will share their own ideas or observations concerning this age-old issue of “first contact.”
This is the way I feel about Christians in the Martial Arts:
As a Christian, Christ lives inside your heart, your soul, and in everything you do. Because of this, you have the right to protect Christ. The reason why you have to protect yourself, is Christ is inside of you. Because He is inside of us, our main goal in life is to spread the word of salvation. In this world today, the world is not 100% safe. If we are faced with a threatening situation, we must defend ourselves, or we can no longer spread the word of salvation if we are dead. Therefore our main goal in life is destroyed.
I feel as if Full-Contact is too much just to train with. I don’t like to hurt anyone, and I really do not enjoy getting hurt either. If I feel as if I want to hit full-contact, like that after a stressful day at work, I will get my punching bag, tie it to a tree, and use that to get out my frustration. This way, if I wanted to fight someone, it results in no person getting injured.
I do not like to draw blood, because I fear other people’s blood with all the diseases out there. To many blood diseases out there can kill you if it mixes with pure blood. I know because my best friend has a blood disease, not AIDS, but is spread like AIDS and will kill you in many years ahead. A slow an painful death, sometimes, and other times a quick death. Some won’t even know they are sick.
I used to spar in my old school with a head gear, arm/forum pads, shin pads, feet pads, and a mouth piece. My equipment was great for the light contact we used in our school. We used minimal contact and make contact in proper places. No one got injured, unless they were goofing off, and walked into a punch, and their nose got the punch, or something like that.
I believe if you want to practice kicking, punching, or other techniques in full-contact, like that of the street, you can use heavy bags, punching bags, kicking bags, and even human dummies to practice your technique with, so that no one gets injured.
I feel as Christians we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and I can not hurt family. “
As we know the Martial Arts of almost any style can include some risks. I have been involved for over 28 years (no wonder they call me “Major Dad”). I do not purposely intend to draw blood, but it has happened, mine as well as theirs. In full-contact it can be brutal. I try my best to hit “target areas” for points to win the match, but do not try to cause someone to purposely bleed.
As a RN Nurse Practitioner always use universal precautions when around blood etc to protect against HIV, Hepatitis etc. “
In my classes, our philosophy as Christian martial artists is one of civic responsibility. If you are going to study martial arts, it should be so that you can become a good fighter. This fighting ability should then be used to both defend yourself and those around you, not just friends and family, but all people around you. “Who is my neighbor?”
How does this fall out in sparring? My class, an old-fashioned Chinese style, tries to make sparring as real as possible. Full-strength strikes are not only encouraged but required. I have one student who is an adept boxer who has broken my nose and knocked me silly once. These are the risks. We say in class: “If you don’t hurt when class is over, you weren’t doing it right.”
In sparring, we have only three rules: 1. No striking the knees from the front. 2. No striking the groin intentionally. 3. Both participants must agree on mutual rules before they begin.
We have no point areas. We have no illegal moves. We try to simulate true-to-life fighting as closely as possible in class. We compensate for the combative nature of our “sparring” by wearing significant pads. We wear chest protectors, shin protectors *cloth*, head gear, mouthpieces, cups, instep guards, forearm *optional* pads, open-finger gloves *for grappling*.
My beginning students begin with point-sparring (we call it “tag” in a less- than-affectionate manner), so that they can learn the valuable skills of ranging and control. Only approved students can go to full-combat sparring.
I recommend at least trying this style of fighting with your mature or older students. I have found that it is much easier for students to discover and capitalize on their natural talents and body-types when regularly practicing this style of sparring. I only teach high school kids and older, and I naturally wouldn’t recommend this style of fighting for kids.
Ultimately, an instructor needs to keep in mind what his goals for class are. If you are a TKD instructor, then sports and athletic goals are paramount, and hard sparring is unnecessary. If you are a self-defense oriented school, however, I recommend full-contact continuous sparring… the more realistic, the better. On the street, there aren’t any rules.”
I have to disagree, but then again, we are all humans and are entitled to our opinions. If you agree to full contact spar, that is one thing, but if one has no clue that they have to fight full contact, then are required to do so, that is a problem. In my years of martial arts training, I never fought full contact. I don’t’ see the point of hurting someone to train. Bones are fragile, and you can break them over and over, but the more you injure yourself the more you will have a hard time recovering from them as well. I’m still young, to most people, and I want to remain that way. I do not train just for self-defense real life practical situations. I trained for self-esteem, self-respect, physical and spiritual conditioning (spiritual because it was Christian based) and also for fellowship. The self-defense part of it just came with the requirements, and I have learned some real life practical techniques, even though any full- contact was never used. I myself can not hit someone full contact, just for a sport, or for practice. If I wanted to practice striking full contact, I’d use a dummy of some sort. I do not want to hinder my growing process, since I am still growing. I don’t see the point of paying money to get hurt.
About that if you aren’t hurt when class is over, that’s an old saying. The reason why I say that, is some old stretches they did, cause done to hurt for weeks on end. They tore muscles, instead of stretching them, causing them to hurt. Body shots were allowed to areas that are tender, again causing pain. You can get a good work out and still do it right. Performing a new kick, or something at first may be “painful” if your muscle isn’t conditioned to it, just as I was with some of my old requirements, but after a while you adapt, and then try to make it better and stronger. I can’t fight full contact unless it was my life, and so far I haven’t come to situation, and hope to never do so. Because of which, I have never broken a nose, or any other part of my body. I am however used to pain, because 3 years ago, I had my hips knocked out of line, due to a car accident. I don’t want anything like that to happen again.
“As a Kenpo guy, we focus on street self-defense, therefore we avoid “tag”.
Naturally, some of my kids (I have 45 of them in the program, under age 12) want to do the tournament thing, so we occasionally run a sparring class to sharpen those skills. What is interesting, is that even with the limited sparring classes, the kids have really cleaned up at the few tourneys they’ve entered. Perhaps doing all the self-defense techs on each other has taught them effective ranging. Plus Kenpo does a lot of hand speed drills which helps too.
I’m 42 now but feel like a kid at times (usually before a good fighting session, not after!) Your fighting drills sound very effective. If you practice full bore, that is precisely what you will do in a real fight. If a student doesn’t know what it’s like to get smacked, they’re likely to freak out when they get popped in a fight. In a controlled environment, I think this is an absolutely critical training method! “
“We use light contact with hand/feet protection; point sparring. Some of my more advanced & aggressive students are allowed to practice Olympic style sparring with full gear that is full contact but only to legal areas. “
We don’t do a lot of sparring, but we drill the self-defense techniques on one another daily. We also utilize pressure-points both as control holds and strikes. Not much blood but some seriously dilated pupils and dizziness!
When we do spar, intermediate students and above, it’s with padding and somewhat sporting in nature. I’m not a fan of sparring in that I am of the opinion that it can condition you to hold back on your power even in a “real world” situation. This position is supported by a wide variety of professionals (principally law enforcement & personal security specialists). If you do choose to spar, for competition, then train in that manner.”
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE GOAL LINE, NOT THE SCOREBOARD AND NOT ON THE TIME CLOCK
by Shidoshi Johnny Russell
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
It’s a big mistake for a martial arts contestant to watch the scoreboard, or the time remaining in the competition. In doing so if he is ahead, he will have a tendency to relax or be overconfident. If he is behind he will have a tendency to lose heart or to be over stressed.
Whether you are competing in Point Kumite, Tuite Submission Grappling, or Full-Contact Pankration, victory is determined moment-by-moment and inch-by-inch. The scoreboard or time clock in and of themselves never determine who wins or who loses; they only reflect the outcome of the game. The final score is never determined until the last whistle is blown. I have witnessed (and experienced) many competitions that seemed all but lost. Then, when things seemed their darkest, a sudden chain of events caused the underdog to battle back and win; often in the last seconds of the contest.
In one’s walk as a Christian warrior, the “scoreboard and “time clock inevitably reflect only public opinion and the current society in which we live. When that is so, he will tend to think that the champion in life is the one whose fans cheer the most and whose bands play the loudest. To be governed by the applause or the pundits of the world will bring any believer into the pits of defeat and despair.
Jesus could not, in fact- would not, let the recognition and approval of men determine His pursuit of His goals. He knew that the goals He sought were higher than men could conceive and the final score was not determined by human applause and/or achievement. He alone knew the cost to achieve them.
When He made His final entry into Jerusalem the crowds thronged His way, lining the road with palm leaves, and cheered Him as “the Son of David Who cometh in the Name of the Lord.” It was not long until they were crying for the release of Barabbas and calling for the crucifixion of Jesus.
From the very beginning, Jesus kept His eyes on His goal. He refused to be defeated by Satan, distracted by men, diverted by public admiration, or to be disconcerted by shame and pain. He clearly knew what His goal was to be and the necessity of keeping focused regardless of the ease or the rigor of the way.
As Christian warriors, we face the same temptations that Jesus faced. We must learn to look to Him and the goals He gives us as well as the example of achievement He gave.
There are many hazards that litter the way and encumber the traveler if one is to realize his objectives. Following are some issues that must be resolved if we are to overcome and achieve our goals.
1. Definition. Not everything is worthy of one’s attention. Single-mindedness is a necessity and can only be achieved if our goals are clearly determined in advance. As we bring all of our thoughts and aspirations together and lay them before the Lord, only then can He may winnow them, salvaging those that fits the plans, and thus the goals, He has for our lives.
2. Destination. . A friend speaks of the cowboy who jumped on his horse and road off in all directions at once. One must know where he is going or he will never know when he has gotten there. We may be impressed with many human needs but must realize that a need does not constitute a call. One can only effectively minister where the anointing wherever the anointing is on him, and only there and then will he achieve the proper goals for his life.
3. Initiation. The hardest thing to do in life is to get started doing whatever it is that one seeks to do. To get in action often is a real chore, thus procrastination is an ever-present enemy. There is no substitute for simply getting up and getting started.
4. Determination. After one gets started, the next most difficult thing is to stay in action. It is easy to be a great starter but never bring things into completion. It takes great resolve and determination to see things through to our determined objective. It is a matter of choice – one hour, day, or issue at a time.
5. Isolation. To achieve one’s goals is an inner drive and, although it may include the participation of others, it is basically a lonely walk. Others are inevitably caught up in their own goals, aspirations, and achievements, and quite likely are not as excited as we are about our pursuits.. The closer we are to achieving our goals, the lonelier the task becomes. One, to successfully reach his goals, must be prepared, as Jesus was, to walk through his valley alone.
6. Realization. It is important to know when one has achieved his goals for if he doesn’t know where he is going, how will he know when he gets there? Paul, regarding his own life, voiced it nicely when he said: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Living life at its fullest and reaching goals in life depend on our perspective, availability, and obedience to Christ. Necessary steps can be taken, our victory realized; however, only He knows the final score, so we should keep our eyes on Him, and not the “scoreboard and “time clock of this present age.”
Peace to you warriors of the Cross,
(Thanks to Grand Master Karl Marx for sending us this article)
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