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.
November – December
Welcome to the GMAF Newsletter! We pray it will encourage you in your Martial Arts and Outreach for Christ.
Thoughts from the Master
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
The Apostle Paul
O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
Driven by Gratitude
Mark McGee GMAF Director
My wife and I are reading a book together called “The Purpose Driven Life.” Chapter Three asks what drives you; why do you do what you do. I immediately thought the word “gratitude.” I’m so thankful to God for saving me as a young man more than 30 years ago. I was generally an ungrateful person, so gratitude did not come naturally. But when you face the fact you are lost and destined for eternal damnation and the Love of God reaches your black heart, saves you and sets your feet on solid, soul-saving ground, a sense of deep and lasting thankfulness fills your new heart and mind. That thankfulness, that gratitude becomes a driving force in your life. We think differently; we want differently; we hope differently; we dream differently; we plan differently; we treat others differently – all because of God’s Love and Grace.
The Apostle Paul was driven by gratitude. His life stands as a testimony to how God can change the life of a sworn enemy and turn him into a thankful servant. Paul always shared God’s Amazing Grace with anyone who would listen. Paul’s life was based on gratitude. It drove him, kept him focused and on the path; led him by day and night; held him close when the world rejected him; gave him strength when his body and mind were pushed beyond imagination.
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Corinthians 15:12-17
Paul cared deeply for Christians everywhere. His love came directly from the Heart of God Who Loves with a Perfect and Eternal Love. The spiritual response to having God’s Love fill your heart is to overflow to others for their spiritual good and the progress of the Gospel of God’s Love and Grace.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Romans 1:8-12
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Colossians 3:15
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. Romans 6:16-18
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:18-25
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds. Colossians 4:2
For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:15-16
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5: 17-21
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Philippians 1:2-14
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth. Colossians 1:3-6
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:15-17
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Colossians 4:2-4
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-13
Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:15-24
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
We have so much to be thankful for. God has saved us, given us hope and a new life in Jesus Christ. May God’s Love and Grace and the gratitude we feel for His Unspeakable Gift drive us to serve Him with our mind, body and spirit forever.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15: 55-58
Biblical Health Principles
Steve Shober MS, MH, DNM
Biblical Health Ministries
Importance of Alkaline Balance
Medicines may save your life, but they canot heal – – only your body can heal itself (this is God’s design). The innate intelligence God has placed within the body runs it and heals it according to His design and natural laws. We have to treat health much like spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6): know the enemy, cut off supply lines, defend, nourish, take the offense… Heredity plays an important role in how disease is manifested (cancer, diabetes, arthritis) but heredity does not dictate that you must get sick.
We cannot be healthy if our body’s cells are living in, or are fed, junk. A good rule to remember is, we live and die at the cellular level. If our cells are swimming in “defilement” our bodymust make physiological adaptations that are absolutely necessary for immediate survival, if continued long-term this virtually guarantees disease later. Symptoms are the signals our body is adapting its function to survive the things we do to it. You can never treat enough symptoms to correct the cause of disease, one must get to the root cause. For example, germs are not the cause of disease — low resistance to them is. Our body is not prorammed to develop disease nor does disease strike out of the blue, it develops over time according to natural laws as a result of prolonged violation of those laws.
Our body’s cells produce an ash from the food we eat. This ash is the residual after all metabolism has taken place, like the ash left after a fire. This ash can be srongly acidic to strongly alkaline. This ash has a profound affect on our health and is often the root cause of our health problems. Most fluids in the body where cells operate (including our blood) are supposed to be slightly alkaline. If our food ash is acidic it must be neutralized (buffered) before it is eliminated or it would cause great bodily harm. It is eliminated through the kidneys and bowels. The neutralizing agents are alkaline minerals (sodium, calcium, magnesium, etc) and they come from so-called alkaline foods.
The root cause of most diseases relates to the lack of the needed neutralizing minerals, resulting in an acidic environment, which harms our cells and allows many bacteria/virus to flourish. We need a reserve of alkaline minerals and as this reserve goes, so goes our health. However, only organic minerals (from plants) will work to neutralize acid ash. Why, because organic minerals are weakly bonded to other atoms and our body can only use the weaker organic bonds — inorganic bonds are too strong. Salt is
inorganic so the sodium is useless as a neutralizing agent. The sodium in canned and processed foods will not work, it is inorganic salt. God’s design is for the strong inorganic bonds to be broken by plants and incorporated in plant foods as the weaker organic bonds, we then can get the needed neutralizing minerals from the plants.
Principle: your body will do everything it can to keep you alive NOW – it is not planning for the future and does not necessarily work to keep you comfortable and happy, just alive.
Acid ash and Alkaline ash foods. In general, proteins leave an acid ash and fruits and veggies an alkaline ash.
- Meats, poultry, fish ……………………………… very acid ash
- Dairy and eggs …………………………………….. acid ash
- Cereals and grains ……………………………….. acid ash
- Fruits and Vegetables ………………………….. Alkaline AshNote: fruits like lemons are initialy very acidic, but they leave an alkaline ash, which is good. Meat, grain, dairy, many nuts/seeds leave an acid ash which has to be neutralized.Beside food, our mind has a direct effect on acid production. The number one acid producer in our body is negative thinking. It is now known that the chemical processes that mediate emotion and mood occur not only within our brains, but also on the very surfact of every single cell. In this regard, Philippians 4:4-8 instructs us to think about positive things and to avoid negative thinking. This is one reason He wants us to have a transformed mind. Wow! God told us this, but we did not understand what the impacts of negative thinking were.Proper Diet to assure an Alkaline Reserve. A good diet contains 75-80% alkaline ash forming foods (fruits and vegetables) and 20-25% acid ash forming foods (meat, grain, dairy, most nuts/seeds). Over 50% of the diet sould be raw fod (cooking destroys enzymes and organic bonds).(Next month: Qualities of Foods)
Dr. Shober is a Doctor of Naturopathic Ministries, Master Herbalist and Director of Biblical Health Ministries. He is available for seminars,conferences and workshops.You can contact him at email@example.com or 608-836-9579.
Soke Joseph Lumpkin
Head of Shinsei Hapkido
(Reprinted with permission from: ENCOUNTER THE WARRIOR’s HEART www.1stbooks.com/bookview/18526)
Training is the education of instinct. Anonymous
Let your spirit precede your movement. Anonymous
Before movement, there is intent. A strong intent will spontaneously drag movement behind it. The spirit of your movement is the strength of intent. Let each movement be done with full intent and strength of spirit. Commit fully to each movement with absolute intent and your spirit will precede you.
In the pursuit of learning, everyday something is gained. In the pursuit of the Way, everyday something is shed. Less and less is done until non-motion is achieved, then nothing is left undone. Lao Tzu
So often, I have moved too often. So often, I have made useless and unnecessary moves. Each movement brings the possibility of error and loss. Less is more.
It is said, “first the mind, then the body.” If the abdomen relaxes, breath sinks deep, into the bones. If the spirit is relaxed, the body is calm. It is always in the mind. Being able to breathe leads to agility. The softest will become the strongest. Chang San-feng
Storing up energy is like drawing a bow. Relax completely, sink, release, aim in one direction. Chang San-feng
When moving, there is no place that does not move. When being still, there is no place that is not still. If others are still, I am still. If others move, I move first. Chang San-feng
Let the postures be without breaks or holes, hollows or projections, or discontinuities or continuities of form. Chang San-feng
Motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, controlled by the waist, and manifest through the fingers. Chang San-feng
The feet, legs, and waist must act simultaneously, so that while stepping forward or back the timing and position are correct. Chang San-feng
By alternating the force of pulling and pushing, the root is severed and the object is quickly toppled. Chang San-feng
The purpose of any style or technique is to transcend what is being practiced without premeditation. An artist practices his music to strive to actually forget the notes, rules, theories, and passages and transcend all things he has learned. Then the music flows from his instrument, and he becomes the music. It pours from us, as Segar says, “Like sweat from our bodies.”
The martial artist trains for decades in order to forget all training as he moves. Move as he may, he will manifest the ancient ways. Without thought, analysis, or intention, he will respond as a mirror to the image laid on him. There can be no thought of technique or posture. The reaction and response must simply happen. Music, art, and living must flow from us spontaneously. Only with years of training do we experience moments of complete freedom of technique without thought.
Training is the key to this art. Repetition is the key to training. Our journey through training changes us. In training, we force ourselves onward. We sharpen and harden our will as we push toward the unattainable goals of perfection of form and ultimate speed. In this state of never-ending dissatisfaction, we see all imperfections of skill and limitations of speed. As we push ourselves harder and harder, we reach a point of frustration as we hit the wall of our abilities. Frustration is good. It causes us to reach beyond our physical limitations and draw on strengths that would otherwise remain untapped. What results is a slow integration of body, mind, and spirit. This integration is the true purpose of training.
In this uncertain world, ours should be the path of discipline. Hiba Yoshimasa 1350-1410
It is not wise to rush about. Controlling the breath causes strain. It takes too much energy and leads to exhaustion. This is not the Way. It is contrary to the Way and will not last long. Lao Tzu
Even if you have a partner who is vicious and determined to injure you, consider yourself fortunate. To know yourself, to know the opponent, to understand the relationship between the two: these are the true objectives of training. Shigeru Egami 1976
Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. Sun Tzu
Simple practice is of minimal benefit. A fast kick or powerful punch is not the goal. Improvement to the point of proficiency is only the first step. This
is why the achievement of the Black Belt is considered the beginning of the journey, not the goal, and certainly not the end.
I recommend you take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves. Lord Chesterfield
The Shodan, 1st Dan, or 1st Degree Black Belt is recognized as one who has mastered the basic techniques of the martial art he has studied and has taken that first step toward a new beginning. Now a new path is illuminated toward a lifetime of knowledge. One must never stop learning, even until death. Obtaining the 1st Dan does not mean one has reached the end of the journey. It means he has proven himself worthy to be accepted as a student of the arts.
One should exert himself in martial arts absolutely. There are no weak soldiers under a strong general. Takeda Nobushige 1525 1561
As we train in our field, our sport, or our art, we must push ourselves to the outer limits of our abilities and then beyond. We must continue to beat against the walls and boundaries of our limitations until our frustrations set us free. Concentration, focus of will, full emotional contentment, and all of our strength mix together to form a force previously unattainable.
There is no deadlier weapon than the will! The sharpest sword is not equal to it. There is no robber so dangerous as nature. Yet, it is not nature that does the damage: it is man’s own will! Chuang Tzu Circa 300 B.C.
Beginning in the training of one’s body, practice continues with the training of one’s spirit. Finally one realizes that the body and spirit are not two but one. This is true practice. Shigeru Egami 1976
Turning your attention to anything should be tantamount to turning a spotlight on it. Your mind should focus on it, exposing all its aspects. Use uncontrollable change to your advantage. Follow the opponent and not yourself. Li I-yu
Be mindful. Whatever part of the body is touched, the mind should go. Li I- yu
Our actions, motions, and techniques must be practiced to the point of being reflexive. Thought takes time and distracts the mind. Thought confuses the calm. Thought causes distraction. Distraction causes delay. Delay causes death.
A frog to a caterpillar said, “Pray, which legs comes after which?” This worked his mind to such a pitch; he lay distracted in a ditch considering how to run. Japanese proverb
A fox and a cat met in the woods one day. The cat had been waiting for a chance to say, “I envy your mind, your skill, and cunning. So many tricks you have to my climbing or running.” As the dogs closed in, the cat said farewell. She climbed the tree and wished the fox well. The fox was attempting to show off her skills. To give the cat a chill, a thrill, and was trying to decide which trick to do, but was still undecided as the dogs tore her in two. James Hiner
Seek to see and understand the philosophy behind the techniques in your life. Seek to apply the philosophy more deeply and completely in your soul. Do something even if could be wrong do something.
The most important thing about goals is having one. Geoffrey F. Abert
One of the most important things we as instructors or teachers need to communicate to our students is the difference between earning a Black Belt and being a Black Belt. An instructor must communicate to the student that class will require his full, undivided attention, as well as his maximum energy level and focus. We are teachers, not private trainers or professional counters. We do not exist to assure each Black Belt candidate receives a good workout. We are there to illuminate the Way for them. We are not there to push them to be more committed about the Black Belt. We exist to shine the light over our shoulder; to illuminate the path we have taken. The student must make the journey alone. The student who must be pushed to earn a Black Belt should not receive one. A journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step, but the student must continue the journey on his own.
You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb a little. Andrew Carnegie
We must continuously remind the student of the doors of opportunity that swing on small hinges. To become a Black Belt requires one to live the martial way. The result of becoming a Black Belt should be an embodiment of the martial arts within the student, allowing life to be lived abundantly. He will not have just taken martial arts. The arts will have taken him.
It is strongly recommend that instructors require students to keep a journal of their experiences and activities. Those who know how to write and don’t write are no better than those who don’t know how to write at all. Have them practice the art of writing.
The only thing worse than a man that cannot read and write is a man that can and won’t. Bruce Lee
Students need to learn to practice by themselves. The student who does not practice on his own time isn’t ready to be a Black Belt. Students must be shown how to let go of the past. One must always remember the past does not equal the future and the way you are “being” is the result of the way you have chosen to be. If habits are learned, they can also be unlearned. Nothing is hopeless. The future Black Belts should be encouraged not to waste their emotional energy on trivia. They must put their goals ahead of their moods. The man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.
If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Eagles don’t flock. You have to find them one at a time. H Ross Perot
I will have no man work for me who has not the capacity to become a partner. J.C. Penney
Mr. Penney succinctly defines the way we should view our students: Future partners…future servants in the ministry.. future Black Belts.
PRINCIPLES OF THE CHRISTIAN BLACK BELT
1. A black belt must exhibit high personal moral standards.
2. Black belts must be able to concentrate, even in the midst of adversity.
3. Black belts must have control over anger and negative emotions. They develop intense levels of self control and discipline in all areas of life.
4. Black belts must be respectful and courteous.
5. Black belts do what they are supposed to do on time. Anyone can start a project. Black belts fininsh the task.
6. Black belts show strong leadership qualities. Leadership training is extremely important in the martial arts. The Christian black belt must show the qualities of a biblical leader.
7. Black belts give back to the martial arts, their church, and their community through service.
8. Students should realize they are working toward the black belt the moment they enroll in class. Class requires complete focus and undivided attention. The instructor is not there to make sure you earn your Black Belt. That commitment must come from within.
9. Black Belts enjoy practice and make it a priority. They faithfully attend all classes and compete in all events they are asked to compete in.
10. Black Belts are faithful to writing and keeping a journal of experiences.
11.There is a difference in earning a black belt and achieving the goal of becoming a black belt. To earn a belt, a student simply completes the minimum requriements for the belt rank. After this, he has a belt to wear. To achieve the goal of becoming a Black Belt, the student must train with full intensity and commit him / herself to achieving the excellence necessary to “be” a Black Belt, not just “get” a black belt.
12. Black Belts work as hard on their own as they do in class. 13.The Black Belt exam is a mirror of all your training.
14.Black belts must realize “If every man would help his neighbor, then no man would be without help –Bruce Lee.
15.Black belts realize where “the Way leads them: In the maze of pathways In the labyrinth of life. We must find the straight and narrow. The way that leads to Christ. All other roads are useless. The beginning of God’s highway Is the cross.” – by B. Eisenberg
(used by permission)
Can a Christian Study Aikido?”
Soke Mark Barlow
Head of Akayama Ryu
I was raised in a staunch Southern Baptist home and during my 30 years of training, I’ve heard the same negative opinions and attitudes that have concerned you. When I started Judo as a teen, I was warned that martial arts required bowing to false idols. Not true. When I expanded my training to Jujitsu and Aikido, I was told that they would require meditation which opened the door to a weakening of my faith and attacks on the spirit. Also not true. Meditation turned out to be breathing exercises which allowed me to focus my energy on all aspects of life, not just the martial arts. There are a few (very few, in my experience) schools and instructors that try to interject an element of mysticism or a mishmash of zen beliefs but while these schools may briefly flourish, they all eventually wither on the vine.
Ki is not magic. It is a heightened awareness of balance and timing combined with proper breathing. Put these together with years of training and you’ll be able to achieve superior technique. I’ve never met a Japanese who proclaimed ki to be anything spiritual or even particularly special, just a product of practicing basics for years on end. No one looks at a professional athlete and thinks that his ability comes from anything but a natural God given physical talent and the willingness to sweat and bleed until he makes the game look easy. It is the same with martial artist. When ever someone expresses appreciation for some technique I demonstrate, my response tends to be, “Any 5 year old can do it….with 20 years of practice.”
The willfully ignorant often condemn that of which they have no personal experience or knowledge. If half the energy that was expended against innocent endeavors would be spent on the sick and needy, we’d be living in a paradise on earth. For every person pointing a finger at the martial arts as ungodly or unchristian, there are a thousand martial artists and instructors living christian lives and working to help and aid those around them. My sensei was capable of performing many of the ki demonstrations you’ve probably heard of and I’ve never met a better, more Christian soul. I’m a better man for having trained with him for 20 years as are the thousands of lives he touched during the 40 years he taught.
Belief and faith are deeply personal issues. My training has been as a warrior, not a fighter. I train to combat evil and to protect not only myself, but my loved ones and those around me. As hokey as that sounds, it’s how I truly view my involvement with martial arts. My spirit is strong because I devote my physical energies, thought and will to a pure cause and I’m able to be a better husband, worker, student and teacher because of that focus. Any activity can be spiritual whether it’s martial arts, knitting or golf. The importance is not in the activity, it’s in the intent of the participant. Study aikido, take up biking or collect stamps…doesn’t matter. What matters most is the destination, not the journey.
Characteristics of a Martial Artist
Humility: Knowing one’s place amongst mankind. For the martial artist, the first and most important quality is that of humility. Humility at its simplest is freedom from pride and arrogance. Without humility, growth, learning and development of a community spirit are hampered. At higher levels, humility is choosing to make one’s needs and desires secondary to the training at hand and the needs of the larger community (your partner, your dojo, your martial art and your family). Humility enables us to grow as a community.
Awareness: Conscious cognizance of one’s surroundings. For the martial artist, awareness comes in the form of the workings of the human body; technical excellence; the effects of one’s actions upon others; the developmental needs of oneself and others; the intent of those around us; our environment and our situation, and consequently; opportunities for growth as an individual and a community. Without humility, there can be no true awareness of self or others. With awareness comes a zest for life, because one cannot help but see the opportunities in any situation.
Rectitude: A sense of, and strict adherence to, the correct. A martial artist should always seek the truth and discover what is correct and do what is right. There should be a sense of correctness in body, mind, spirit, action, training and technique. Rectitude encompasses the more specific qualities of honor, and diligence. An appropriate sense of rectitude is dependant upon both humility and awareness.
Mission: A goal or plan of action. As a martial artist, one should always have a view to the task at hand. A goal is a fulcrum without which neither movement nor growth can occur. There should be a specific goal for each action, each training session, each rank, and each stage of development in life.
Ministration – A martial artist is, at all times an envoy. The martial artist has a calling much like that of a guide, and an errand to faithfully discharge. As martial artists we pass on all that we are and all that we learn. We must choose that behavior and knowledge which is appropriate to discharge to others and then give, give, give.
Order: Organization of mind, self, action; conformity to standards and rules. A martial artist is governed by order and discipline. We bow, we sit properly, and we show respect to each other and our instructors. This, in and of itself, is not enough. We must also learn to discipline our minds, our bodies and our spirits. Through the self-discipline and self-confidence that rectitude and order bring, we develop indomitable spirits. As we achieve self-discipline we re-organize ourselves according to our ideal self-image and open the door to true self-respect and self-esteem.
Rank in society – We bear the rank we wear, and if we give anything less at any time in our daily lives, then we are not fulfilling our mission. Others in our ranks look to us for direction and assistance, we owe them our respect, attention to duty and our very best performance. The external community looks to us as representatives of a brotherhood of martial artists and therefore our behavior as individuals reflects upon the whole community. A martial artist who does not live up to his rank both inside and outside the dojo is a detriment to all.
Brotherhood – We are a brotherhood of martial artists and have a responsibility to the order, each other and our martial community. A martial artist’s individual code of conduct is a measure of how responsible he feels to the brotherhood. The greater the debt of honor, the greater the conduct should be.
Yielding : Bending, being pliant under external stresses, giving precedence. A true sense of humility, awareness, rectitude, mission and order give the martial artist a sense of perspective in life. There are times to fight and times
in which giving way and going forward is the positive action to take. When we achieve a state of yielding to our own growth, we have conquered our greatest enemies: our own inadequacies and weaknesses.
Making an offering – A martial artist offers his inadequacies before the world and if he is humble and aware, he is given growth in return. A martial artist offers strength of character and is given respect and trust in return. A martial artist offers what he has learned, and in return learns from both his students and instructors.
Producing results – Apart from the obvious increase in skill, the final outcome of the diligent martial artist who perseveres is grace, efficiency, a community of well-being, an increased sense of self worth and a tendency toward a life of Harmony.
Taking God’s Grace to the World!
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