We are pleased to bring you the fifth response to the question “What is the future of Christian Martial Arts?” that we posed to many instructors. The responses are published in the order of when we received them.
Sifu Michael Martin
What is the future of Christian Martial Arts? Really I don’t know, but I will share some insights I have gleaned over the years. I think Christian Martial Arts will follow the same trends as martial arts in general. By this I mean many folks will jump on the MMA band wagon, until the next big thing. I will say the MMA craze has lasted longer than I thought it would but it will pass like all the others.
In the 50’s it was Judo, in the 60’s it was Karate, in the 70’s it was Kung Fu, in the 80’s it was Ninjitsu. The 90’s saw the MMA craze. Eventually something will take MMA’s place. Having seen many of these phases in person and always trained what appealed to me and not what was the latest flavor, I believe traditional martial arts taught from a Christian perspective will survive like any other art.
My concern is for the arts in general. I am not worried about the pressure from MMA to make your art functional, I think this is good. I am worried about the public’s attitude that martial arts is a kids activity like T- ball or soccer. This attitude has been fostered by folks who are more concerned about making money than the integrity of their art. It has caused the weakening of the arts where a black belt means nothing. I totally understand why the public thinks martial arts are for kids and doesn’t mean anything about fighting ability. When you have 8 and 10 year old’s with black belts who can’t remember their forms or throw a kick without falling down. If I saw that, I would not think much of that rank or school either. And I see it a lot!
If Christian Martial Arts are to have a future, they must lead the way in quality. The general public may not know a lot about the various martial arts, but everyone can recognize quality when they see it. Soke Clement Riedner founder of the Christian Black Belt Association, stressed that with many of the CBBA members, just because you think you are doing martial arts as a ministry, it does not mean you get to slack on the quality of what you do or teach. It should be better.
As Christians, we may never have the biggest schools, and that’s okay as long as we strive to have the best. If we do that, there will always be folks who want to train.
Sifu Michael Martin is a Board Member of Christian Black Belt Association Ministries (CBBAM)
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Sensei Mark McGee
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