Grace Martial Arts Fellowship Newsletters 2004-5

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.


May – June 2004

Welcome to the GMAF Newsletter! We pray it will encourage you in your Martial Arts and Outreach for Christ.

Thoughts from the Master

And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Jesus Christ

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. “

The Apostle Paul

Wisdom Notes

All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them. They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

Psalm 118:10-14

The Gift of Thorns


Mark McGee, GMAF Director

Spring is a wonderful time of the year. It brings us warmer temperatures, rain, flowers, leaves on the trees and … thorns. My wife and I were working in the back yard recently and we were quickly reminded that we have trees and bushes filled with thorns. Feeling, then seeing the thorns, reminded us of the tremendous gift God gave us.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Genesis 3:17-19

Thorns are a reminder of an important and powerful truth: we are sinners in a sinful world. The human race is separated from the God Who created the world and everything in it. The ground we stand on is cursed because of our sin. The cursed ground brought forth thorns and thistles, which makes working the ground hard and painful. It also reminds us that we will one day die and return to the ground. We are a needy people. That truth is a wonderful gift from God so we don’t forget. People are saved after they realize they’re lost. The cursed earth, the sorrow, the thorns and thistles, the sweat and toil and our eventual death are all reminders of our need for God’s Love, Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness.

And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it. And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man’s inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit. But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.

Numbers 33:50-55

Thorns are a painful reminder of sin. Fortunately, when we know the truth, thorns point us toward salvation. It is true now and has been true through the centuries of human existence. Thorns were a reminder to Israel of its disobedience to God and need for forgiveness and to return to the path of righteousness God set for them from the beginning.

Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.

Proverbs 22:5

In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them.


The path of the wicked is not pretty. It may look that way at first, but it is ugly and painful. Millions of people around the world know this truth. They know how terrible it is to be wicked. But the person who guards his soul stays far from them. The lost of our world don’t have many choices. They may think they do, but all paths lead to death. The only Path that leads to Life is Jesus Christ. He said He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christ is the One Who will guard and protect our soul for eternity. He is the One Who will keep us from the path filled with thorns and snares. We must believe Him and trust Him at His Word.

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Proverbs 24: 30-34

Thorns grow where people are lazy. It takes hard work and perseverance to keep thorns from taking over a garden or yard. We have to be on the lookout for them. We have to be diligent. The field of the slothful and the vineyard of the man void of understanding is grown over with thorns. That can happen to any of us spiritually. If we become lazy and uncaring and forget to watch carefully over our spiritual lives, we will one day awaken to find our lives covered over with thorns. We find ourselves impoverished and bankrupt in spiritual things. It is not a difficult task to keep thorns from taking over our yard, but it is something we have to pay attention to daily. How does a garden go from being free of thorns to being overrun with them? It’s a matter of inattention over time. A yard that is overgrown with thorns will take more time and hard work and heartache than if we watched over it lovingly each day destroying the first signs of thorns instead of being destroyed by them. May we consider it well and receive instruction.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Matthew 7:15-20

The natural laws of God are easy to see. Men do not gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles. Good trees bring forth good fruit and corrupt trees bring forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit and a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit. That’s a natural law. So is the spiritual law that people will be known by the fruits of their lives. What matters is not what they say or do… it’s what they are. People can say anything and do anything to get what they want. Lying is easy. Truth is what’s hard and truth is the fruit of a person’s life. A gardener inspects the fruit of a tree as it matures. They know what kind of fruit the tree is producing and know what kind of fruit they will harvest. So we can know what kind of spiritual fruit we’re producing and what kind of spiritual fruit will come at harvest time. Do we like what we see? Are we producing what we want? What God wants? If not, we can revisit the spiritual laws of God and be fruitful for Him. It’s not too late to be all God wants you to be.

The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Matthew 13:1-9

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

Luke 8:14 NIV

Here are more spiritual laws about fruitfulness. Where should we sow spiritual seeds? Along the wayside where birds devour them? On stony places where the seeds withered away because they were not able to root and develop protection from the scorching sun? Among thorns where the seeds would be choked out as they tried to grow? Anyone who wants to harvest a good crop from what they sow is not going to choose any of those places. The wise sower will choose good ground and will harvest a great amount of delicious fruit. That delicious spiritual fruit is the fruit of the Spirit of God and is known clearly and specifically in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. We will be wise to the dangers of being choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures. We want to bring forth mature fruit. If we have spiritual ears, we will hear.

And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Matthew 27:18-23

Thorns represent sin, evil, wickedness and disobedience to God. The soldiers placed a crown of thorns on the precious head of God’s Son. They mocked Him, spit upon Him and hit him on the head with a reed. Then, they took Christ away to cruicify Him. Jesus, wearing a thorny crown pushed deep into His head, bled and died to pay the penalty for our sins, our evil, our wickedness and our disobedience to God. How perfect the picture of the Lamb of God, wearing a crown of thorns, dying to make a path for us to follow that will lead us away from the pain of earthly and spiritual thorns. There will be no thorns in Heaven! No pain, no sorrow, no tears, no bloody hands or feet; just the sweet Love of Jesus.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.


Paul was a spiritual man. He knew the spiritual laws of God. He was an apostle, a preacher, a teacher, an evangelist, a missionary for Christ. Yet, God gave Paul a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him. Why? So he wouldn’t be exalted. Paul learned a phenomenal lesson that God’s Grace is sufficient for His children. God’s Strength is made perfect in weakness. Paul learned to glory in his infirmities so the power of Christ would rest upon him. Paul learned that when he was weak, then he was strong. Easy lesson to learn? I don’t think so. It may be one of the toughest lessons for us to learn, but learn it we must. All glory and praise belongs to God. We are His children, His servants. He is the Master. He is the One before Whom all peoples of the earth will kneel, bow and worship.

Do I want thorns in my backyard? No. But do I learn from the thorns in my backyard? Yes. May we all learn the lesson of God’s gift of thorns.




The Bible teaches us not to be wise in our own eyes, and God sure knew what He was talking about when He made that command. I am supposed to have an IQ of 185 which puts me according to the Professor who tested me, in the top 1% of the Nation Intellectually. I sometimes wonder if that is a Blessing or a curse. For someone who is supposed to be so smart most of the time I feel as stupid as a pet rock. To me reality is 20 years in the future, whereas in this time and space I come off as being weird. Gee! this is often difficult to deal with and the ability to realize certain things about other folks makes me sad a lot of the time. For example without defining a case of paranoid behavior (which is very close in similarity) I often can tell the difference between someone truly liking me or falsely acting like they do.

The difference between respect and toleration is deceitfully close in similarity. My problem is the ability to tell the difference. No, I’m not a mind reader, however the Gift of Knowledge as the Holy Spirit sees fit is acceptable. Dear readers the old saying that “ignorance is bliss” does have it’s place for many. In my case I sometimes wish I did not have such a gift. Going through life with the knowledge that certain individuals may or may not like you, can have it’s disadvantages. Many of you out there in Cyber land might understand and relate to what I am writing about. One must be careful not to become paranoid, because that is a neurosis. I worked around three years in a mental hospital as a social case worker and an institutional counselor. I wonder sometimes how many poor souls were locked up who were actually gifted, and not as diagnosed paranoid.

Looking back I can remember one particular case that this patient believed his wife, didn’t love him, he felt his boss hated him, his in-laws were nice only because it was the civil thing to do, and his own mother felt that he was a loser. He was court ordered to be institutionalized for at least 30 days under strict observation to determine if he was in fact dangerous to others or himself. It happens that after interviewing the people previously mentioned that he was absolutely correct in his assumptions. He wasn’t as some believed paranoid, but telling the truth. The line between mental illness and soundness is very thin at a certain point. Just were that point is, doctors have been trying to find out for years. Myself I have, I believe crossed over that line back and forth so many times, it is difficult to determine if I am crazy or just so intellectually gifted that many folks whom I wish respected me, really felt I was a nut case with the IQ of a hockey putt. As the head of Keichudo for so many years I realize the mistakes I made and acknowledge the results of them. It brings to memory the words God teaches us in the Bible, about He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. I have confessed and hopefully forsaken them, I guess in time God will allow the Prosper part to come. As yet my prosperity has been abundant in that I am blessed to have a wonderful wife and two great sons that came with the deal. Ha! Three for one, I sure made OUT IN THIS DEAL. GOD IS SOOOO! GOOD. Besides that it would take a book to writ all the blessings God has given me since I accepted Christ Jesus as my Savior and Supreme Grandmaster of my life. Now that was the BIGEST Yawhoo! Hooray! Thank you Jesus! decision in my career. Heck in my entire life. My mind is safer, not free from spiritual attacks or life’s many mental attacks. You know the kind I mean. Braking up with a loved one. Losing someone close like a Mom or dad to death. Losing a great job, any of the many disappointments in life. I can tell all you my faithful readers, and new browser friends that, there just isn’t a real life without Jesus Christ in it. The Holy Bible is chucked Full of answers to any and ALL problems. Ha! now what other book can you read that has that kind of kick in it. There “ain’t” no such thing Pard. I tried it my way. I never knew that a man’s pride would bring him low, but the humble in spirit would retain honor. Naturally I was proud, and even today, I have to deal with that problem, I have been brought Low, real low, But forgiven and lifted high by GOD, not of my own doing. Honors? who keeps count? Oh! I know, just look at some of the reshape on the web. Gosh! It’s really impressive in a NEGATIVE way to see a lot of fellows no one even ever heard of. They were not on the National Karate circuits or entering the major tournaments. They just write a bunch of stuff about what they wish they were and the more they put the dumber they look in the eyes of those who are real. I have seen men with as many as 12 black belts in as many different styles. They promote themselves to at least three 7th dan, two 8th dan, and at least one 10th dan. Also the ridiculous number of Hall of Sham I mean hall of fame they were inducted into. Why do I haunt these phony’s, it’s unchristian you say, “get a life” We are commanded by GOD to HATE Evil, and all sin? I dislike what these fellows are doing, and I will braking as many down as possible, and if anyone has a problem with that “GET OVER IT!” Ha! Well, there you have it. Another issue of did you know. So what have you learned? What do YOU know?

The Importance of Self Defense


Tara Baker

Good morning/afternoon. My name is Tara Baker. I am a second grade student at Denison Elementary School. lt’s funny how self defense works. Let’s say one day I am walking down the street and a stranger approaches me. He says “Give me all your money or I’ll pulverize you!” I quickly notice that he’s much bigger than me, so with confidence I said “NO!” This stranger turns into an attacker and throws a punch towards me. I block it (first technique). He’s thrown off guard by my quickness, so I try to walk away from him, telling him to leave me alone. Guess what? He’s not getting the picture! With my back turned, he grabs my shoulders and I now know what I have to do (technique w/elbow to stomach, groin, chin). He’s hurting and I’m outta there!

You ask how I know this? I am a student in a karate/self defense class and I take it very seriously. Karate teaches many things to its students, do you want me to name a few? Good.

  • Discipline
  • Confidence
  • Esteem
  • Patience
  • Respect
  • Goal setting

I asked my instructor what he thought was the best thing that self defense teaches you. He said, “it teaches you a lot of things, but I think the most important is self improvement,” which pretty much sums up the things I mentioned before. Practicing self-defense allows me to learn how to resist attacks using physical and verbal techniques. This increases my chance of escaping, because attackers do not expect me to stand up for myself, so I can use the element of surprise to my advantage. Here’s another reason I keep learning. A person who uses one self defense technique on an attacker has a 75% chance of escaping. When two techniques are used, the chance rises to 85%. That’s great odds!

As you can see, the fun for a kid like me is in learning the practice of karate and self-defense, not using it unless I have to. I took forward in how this art will influence me. It is said, it will take your entire life to learn karate; there is no limit. My favorite saying is, Karate/Self-defense is like hot water; if you do not give it heat constantly, it will again become cold water.

Thank you.



Thomas Mowery

The name Buddhism comes from the word “budhi” which means “to wake up.” This philosophy originated in the experience of a man named Siddhata Guatama(Buddha) nearly 2500 years ago in northern India.Buddhism has been compared to the 16th Century Protestant Reformation in that it was an offshoot of Vedantic Hinduism. While there are many forms of Buddhism collectively they are made up of nearly 350 million adherents worldwide (1.8 million in America in 1995 according to the Encyclopedia Britannica 1999 ed.). “Buddhism seems to have arrived in America sometime in the 19th Century. Emerson and Thoreau were touched by it. According to Peter Matthiessen, the first Zen master known in America arrived in the 1890s, and shortly afterward, D. T. Suzuki began a long career of translating texts and writing about Buddhism. Buddhism arrived in this country a second time after a wave of Tibetan lamas (driven out by the Chinese invasion of 1956) arrived in America the 1970s, set up schools and publishing houses, and began teaching on a wide scale.”

While Buddhism teaches morals such as avoiding killing any creature, stealing, adultery, lying, corrupt speech, freed, anger and ignorance it is rooted in the teaching of a man who never claimed to be God (or a god) nor did he claim to be a prophet of God.The question that remains to be answered for 2500 years is “if a man is uncertain of his future can he be trusted with your future?”Buddha was quite uncertain about where he would go when he died and his remains can still be found in Kusinara at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains while in contrast Jesus Christ defeated the grave and can be found in heaven and in your life!

I). Who was Buddha?

1. Siddhartha Gautama (Gotama) 563 BC-483 BC (debated as to the actual date within 30-40 years)
2. Buddha was son of Suddhodana a ruler of a district in modern day Nepal. Suddhodana raised Buddha to be a monarch one day.

3. At age 16 Buddha married Bhaddakaccanna (Yasodara)
4. At age 29 he saw the “Four Signs” an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a beggar.This led to his unsatisfaction of life and so he abandoned his wife and son (Rahula) to find the answer to life.
5. Age 35 sitting under a Bodhi (Bo) tree meditating Buddha experienced the highest degree of “God-consciousness” or called “Nirvana”.He was thereafter known as the “Enlightened One”
6. Buddha made his 1st proclamation in Isipatana (Near modern Benares north of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh state, northern India,). It was here that he proclaimed the beginning of the “Wheel of Truth”. This was Buddha’s “dharma” (dhamma) or his teaching of the “basic law which upholds the universe”.
7. Buddha’s teachings were passed orally for nearly 300 years prior to their recording and these were not collected until the 1st century BC (the Pali Cannon).

II). What does Buddhism teach?

A). Buddha’s 3 Basic Laws and 4 Noble Truths

3 Basic Laws (Signata)- these are declared to be characteristic of all compounded things.

  • Impermanence (anicca)- everything changes.Nothing is permanent.
  • Unsatisfactoriness (dukkha)- there is no goodness or beauty.
  • Insubstantiality (anatta)- there is no permanent essence, self or soul (in contrast to the Hindu concept of the soul “atman.” 4 Noble Truths- these are the key to human perfection. 1). There is pain and suffering in life. To exist means there will be suffering, birth is painful and so is death
    2). Suffering is caused by desire, craving or lust.
    3). Freedom from suffering comes when a person rids himself of all desires. “Enlightened people do not cease to experience the pain of existence. They only stop creating illusions that amplify that pain and cause new suffering” 4). The way out of suffering is through the 8-fold Path.This path is adesigned to develop habits that release one from the suffering caused by ignorance and craving. The 8 fold path is:
  • Right Views
  • Right Intentions
  • Right Speech
  • Right Behavior
  • Right Occupation
  • Right Effort
  • Right Contemplation
  • Right Meditation

This concept of salvation is simply “works-salvation” contrary to “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV). On Buddha’s deathbed his followers asked who they should follow next and he replied “Be ye a lamp (or island) unto yourselves; work out your own salvation with diligence.” B). Karma, Samsara and Nirvana Karma refers to the law of cause and effect in a person’s life.This concept was originated in Hinduism and yet Buddha altered his idea of Karma in that you are what you are in the next life based on what you do in this life until you reach the state of Nirvana breaking the cycle of birth and rebirth.Hinduism supports a caste system in that you cannot progress from one rank to the next. Samsara is the idea that only feelings, impressions, and the karma that is passed on goes through the birth and rebirth cycle.Buddha did not believe in the soul or permanence thus there is no self to carry into the cycle of life. The new life is similar, but not the same person. Nirvana is the “blowing out” of existence. It is an eternal state of being where karma and the life cycle stop.It is a place where desire and individual consciousness ends.Buddha described it as “a condition, where there is neither earth nor water, neither air nor light, neither limitless space, nor limitless time, neither any kind of being, neither ideation nor non-ideation, neither this world nor that world. There is neither arising nor passing-away, nor dying, neither caused nor effect, neither change nor standstill.”(Taylor and Offner, The World’s Religions, GrandRapids: InterVarsity, 1975, p177).

C). Meditation and Yoga

The regular practice of meditation is used to cultivate calm and tranquility and to cultivate insight.The “lotus position” is used which is the classic yoga stance and begins with emphasis on concentration in breathing, then body, then mind through the 3 Basic Laws and the 1st two parts of the 8-fold path.

III). What Doesn’t Buddhism Teach? Buddha was not certain of his or your future.

  • “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (I Jn 5:13 KJV)
  • Buddha did not teach a personal God.
    “and ye shall bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” (Ezek 23:49 KJV)
  • Buddha always said “come and see. Rather than belief by faith, however, when he died no one could “come and see” but had to put their faith in him.Jesus came and said to believe by faith and then He rose from the dead for all to “come and see”! “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Rom 5:1 KJV)

Martial Arts and The Law


Sensei Mike Lewis

In the martial art’s world there are many arguments that take place. Many argue about the purpose of one’s training. Even though thousands of martial artists are interested in character-building, physical fitness and the mental discipline that comes with the training, most individuals join martial arts studios to feel more confident about their ability to protect and defend themselves. This issue, the ability to defend yourself, brings up some very interesting questions: Do you have the right to protect yourself in any way you feel is necessary? Are you protected against assault charges, criminal or civil lawsuits brought against you by someone you injured while defending yourself? If you are threatened with bodily harm, are you justified in taking any action necessary to protect yourself, your significant other or your personal possessions?

Everybody who trains in the martial arts should be aware of court rulings and certain laws that might affect their actions. There are not many simple, clear-cut rights as you may think. Depending on the state or country that you reside, using your martial arts skills may lead to an arrest, or a costly and complicated lawsuit. There are legal consequences in defending yourself. Remember this; in a court of law, it is assumed that you are aware of the legal limits of your actions. There’s a common legal saying, “Ignorance of the Law is No Defense.” As a martial artist, if you ever have to defend yourself using physical force, and in doing so it lands you in police custody, you should immediately seek the aid of an attorney. When a martial artist, especially a Black Belt is accused of excessive force in self-defense, the standard is usually higher than that of a novice practitioner, a non- martial artist, and a reasonable or prudent person. Many courts believe that it is only fair that one with unique skills is held to a unique standard.

Many martial artists go through years of extensive training, some make it into the black belt ranks, but few spend the time learning the assault laws that could ultimately affect them, or for that matter, the type of force that they are allowed by law to use on an attacker. Through out North America, most states allow its law-abiding citizens only one type of force to be used in self-defense. That type of force is one, which is necessary to fend of an attack and prevent injury. Universally, there are three types of force used: reasonable, excessive and deadly.

Reasonable force is that force which a reasonable person thinks is necessary under the circumstances, to stop the threat and prevent further injury. Example: An assailant confronts you and advances forward. He then directs a punch towards your head. You react by dodging his blow, causing him to miss the intended target. You then follow up with a kick to his abdomen. He immediately falls to the ground and ceases his threatening actions. At this point no further physical action is required of you, other than making an effort to notify the proper authorities and reporting the incident.

Excessive force is using any force above and beyond the force required to stop the threat. Example: An assailant attacks you, and you are able to block, and counter with a reasonable amount of force. The attacker falls to the ground and is temporarily immobilized. At this point, you kick or punch him several more times.

Deadly force is any force used with the purpose of causing, or knowing it can cause a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily harm. Example: Taking both the Reasonable and Excessive use of force into consideration, basically any technique used after reasonable force without justification, may be deemed deadly depending on the severity of the injury you caused.

Self-defense is not a right, but a privilege – a privilege that can be lost in a variety of ways. The privilege of self-defense and the use of force towards another person are justifiable only when a person reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself/ herself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present location. It is not a defense to use self-defense when committed in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent. A person in court claiming the privilege of self-defense must also establish that his or her belief in the necessity to use physical force was sound thinking, with common sense and

not excessive. One who provokes or initiates an assault cannot escape criminal liability by invoking self-defense as a defense to a prosecution arising from injury done to another. The right to self-defense is only available to the one who is free from fault. A good point to remember is, while you are defending yourself and the assailant’s threat stops, your use of force must also stop. If you continue to use force after the assailant’s immediate threat has stopped, then you may be criminally and or civilly held liable for any injury the assailant sustained after the threat was no longer present.

As martial arts instructors, regardless of style, this basic standard of martial arts and the law applies to all. Therefore, we must reevaluate our own self- defense techniques that are taught in our training halls. Is it necessary to teach our students to go above and beyond the force that it is required by law? From personal experience, I have witnessed at demonstrations, seminars, and at tournaments, individuals performing their self-defense techniques. And in almost all occasions, the defender took extra measures to continue to kick or punch, and even conduct bone breaks to the attacker even after the attacker was completely immobilized. Is this what we want to teach our students, or portray to the public that martial artists are ruthless? A vast majority of the public already perceives martial artists, especially black belts as walking deadly weapons. It is imperative to change that view. It is up to us as instructors to change that perception. The public must be taught that we can restrain ourselves and only take the necessary actions to stop our assailants. Ultimately, a jury of your peers will judge you in a court of law. Wouldn’t you want them on your side?

Let’s rethink for a moment and ask ourselves, how can we continue tradition and still comply with the 21st Century laws. Today’s martial art instructors must take a responsible approach to teaching self-defense techniques, to include choosing the right words to describe the technique’s purpose. Don’t forget that you as the instructor may also be held accountable for your student’s actions, especially if what you’re teaching is not within the limits of the law. Let’s face it, we live in a litigate society and the laws commonly govern everything we do.

Mike Lewis, Director and Chief Instructor, Seishin-Do Karate-Karate for Christ Seishoku-Kai, Tabernacle Church of Norfolk. Honbu-Dojo.

On Turning The Other Cheek

(Published originally in the Karate For Christ Newsletter)

As a martial artist and a member of our armed forces, I have had occasion to contemplate the applicability of Jesus, teaching of turning the other cheek from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says, “You have heard it said, Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth., But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matt 5:38-39). Many have taken this scripture out of context, asserting that Jesus intends us to take a beating without defending ourselves. I intend to show that this is not the case.

What this passage does not say:

This passage is not about a life threatening attack; it is about being insulted. “If someone strikes you on the right cheek The consensus among Biblical scholars is that Jesus is referring to receiving a backhanded blow. In order to be struck by a right handed person and hit on the right cheek, the blow would have to be a backhand. In this culture, this was a particularly insulting gesture. It was how one treated another who was below them in class or status esp. Roman to Jew. Also, many would claim the Mosaic law of “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth (Ex 21:24) is a guide for personal revenge. Rather, this law was provided to limit vengeance and help the justice system administer a punishment that fit the crime. This is an equitable model for justice, necessary for the good and order of society. Jesus teaches when we are insulted, to not seek revenge. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay (Deut 32:35). Paul also reminds us of this scripture when he prompts us to leave room for God,s wrath in Romans.

What this passage does say:

When insulted, turn the other cheek. Turning the other cheek allows the justice system as appointed by God to take care of punishment, and allows us to demonstrate love toward our enemies. Later in the same passage Jesus tells us that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44). By showing love toward those who insult or persecute us, we are obeying Jesus, command to love one another and in doing so Paul says that we will heap burning coals upon the heads of our enemies (Rom 12:20). Jesus is our Lord, our Savior and our model of how we should act. Jesus embodies these teachings during his crucifixion when, during torment, he prays for those putting him to death: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).

The Word does allow and encourage self-defense:

The Bible is riddled with accounts of God’s people fighting for both their defense and their freedom. The Old Testament shows an example of personal protection in Exodus 22:2-3: “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if he strikes him after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed.” This clearly shows the acceptability of protecting one’s self, family, and domain during the time the crime is taking place. It also supports God’s disapproval of personal revenge by finding guilt of bloodshed if the defender waits until later and seeks revenge. Jesus even encouraged his disciples to get protection shortly before he was betrayed: “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). When writing to Timothy, Paul advises, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8). We are charged to meet the needs of our families, and that includes defending them.

Applicability to the martial arts:

One of our main instincts as human beings is that of self-preservation. God bestowed on us this impulse in order that we may keep ourselves safe. He would not design us with this instinct if he did not intend for us to use it. But, like all natural impulses (feeding, sex, aggressiveness) self-preservation must be controlled. If we let our carnal desires go unchecked, we open ourselves up to sin. This is where the discipline that God gives us as Christians comes in. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim 1:7). The same is true of the martial arts. As practitioners became increasingly capable of destruction, some form of control becomes necessary. Hence, moral codes like the Japanese code of bushido evolved. The study of the martial arts is a way of life, much like Christianity. As Christian martial artists, we can develop our sprit given self-control as part of our martial arts training.

Taking God’s Grace to the World!

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