Incorporating Christian Teachings In My Martial Arts Classes.

Let's face it- we are teaching martial disciplines that have the potential to be not only violent, but deadly as well. Our burden as instructors is to not only teach proper (and excellent), technique but also a way to help the student learn how to handle or manage the skills he/she is learning. There must be some sort of moral code or guidelines that help the student determine when or when not, to use these techniques.

As a Christian myself- my own personal moral code comes from the Scriptures, God's Word in the Bible. And so, the foundation for everything I teach also flows from that same source.

As far as practical "how do I do it" in class, that changes each day. I often will take a short break halfway through the class, and after the break all the students sit in a semi-circle and I lead them in a short lesson. More often than not that lesson will be Biblically based, and contain an object lesson that helps them relate something we are working on, or a principle of the arts into their own life and how to apply it to the three areas of the mental, physical and spiritual man.

For instance, kata or forms is an easy one. Just as the movements in the katas form the foundation for the techniques and application of particular movements, so does God's word form the foundation for everything we do.

Just as the techniques in the kata are obviously performed either correctly or incorrectly, so does the Bible gives us an accurate "yardstick" by which we can measure right from wrong.

I will also take an individual scripture and apply it to various martial arts scenarios. The book of James holds many treasures in this regard. For example James 1:19 says "..let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:"

This can be taught as one lesson or broken up into three separate lessons.

1) "let every man be swift to hear" This can be used to teach a variety of things.

 Really listening when people are talking to you, rather than formulating our response while they’re talking and not really hearing what they’re saying. (great for an instructors class by the way).

 Awareness of your surroundings. By listening, you do become much more aware of what’s going on around you. I will instruct my students to have a good time with their friends (goofing around at the mall for instance), but never be so consumed with that interaction that they are not “listening” and being aware of what’s happening around them.

 Developing your peripheral vision. This scripture can also be the basis for working on this important area of physical development in katas etc.

2) “slow to speak” My favorite application of this section is “keeping your mouth shut” *smile* and how often the things we say get us in the most trouble. And how if we can control our tongues (James 3), we can calm threatening situations, keep a small thing from becoming a big thing, be a better witness for our Lord and on and on....

3) “slow to wrath”.  Here again this has many applications from interpersonal family relationships (how many times does your mom have to ask you to clean your room, and how do you respond), to on the street encounters, to getting thumped in class while sparring. Your anger threshold plays an important part in your everyday life and how you handle the pressures and stresses that we all face.

Recently I had one of my Black Belt student come up during this lesson time and throw a punch. I turned that into a full wrist lock that could easily break most every bone in his arm. While he was standing there all twisted up I started applying the pressure and explaining to the students what could happen. Then asked the big question: “shall I break it?”. Then continued to prod and find out why not, and if not, why did I learn to do it etc., etc. It evolved into a very thought provoking discussion on again, how to handle the skills we learn from a Biblical basis according to the Scriptures.

I also have a Bible study on my web-sight that has Scriptures and principles on everything from the “Karate Mind” to the “Samurai Code of Bushido” that take the student through a process of learning how to apply these various martial arts teachings and principles to their own lives via Biblical interpretation.

It is my humble opinion that the Scriptures truly provide us with the only resource for using the skills and principles of the martial arts in a way that will help the student develop and grow into not only  the kind of person that God would desire, but also one that will be a responsible, well rounded member of society able to make a difference in our crazy world.

Prof. Ron Hagelganz
Whole Armor Martial Arts
Washington, USA

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