View Full Version : How does a Christian handle MA training?

Joseph Svinth
8th February 2001, 13:33

"Learning karate is not learning how to turn the other cheek, and karate instruction cannot be confused with or substituted for our responsibility to instruct our children in our faith; it merely teaches a child or adult how to control a fight or attack situation. It also removes a great deal of the fear of fighting which, for a child, can be paralysingly terrifying. I believe it also goes a long way toward discharging what I believe is my obligation to defend my children from evil."

Joseph Svinth
9th February 2001, 11:03
Also try "karate saved my life" as a keyword search on Google. More nice stories there, many from Christians, than you can shake a stick at.

Ed Howard
9th February 2001, 12:14
I kind of like Joseph Campbell's "one god" (i.e. it is the same guy but he has different masks depending on the country. Obviously this gets the extremists going a bit, but essentially if you treat your training and dojo as sacred it doesnt matter which one you are believing in. Am actually thinking of writing a piece on this for the Journal of Asian martial arts, any stuff like this come out before?

Joseph Svinth
9th February 2001, 13:10
Rudyard Kipling used to have characters express similar sentiments, but I'm not familiar enough with the discussions of metaphysics to be able to answer that. Sorry.

9th February 2001, 22:05
This is the first time ever I have heard martial arts getting their due online. All I usually hear are people saying is how we incite violence. I'm assuming most people who do this buy into the general "Hollywood" view of the martial arts and think anyone wielding a sword or flinging some kicks is a martial artist. Few people realize what martial arts are ultimately about. Sure some people start out learning for the express purpose of combat, but the more time you spend in the martial arts the less you want to fight, and the more you look into other methods of resolving discord. I'm a religious person, I study martial arts, but never have I ever had to use my knowledge to hurt others. Not many people see martial arts and in talking your way out of a fight or running away from danger. Preventing combat in martial arts is just as important as fighting. Why hurt someone when you can defeat your opponent without laying a finger on them? How impressive will that sound, "Yea I took on a 5'10" 250lb bodybuilder and didn't lift a finger". :) And one more thing on that article, I think what that kid said was a pretty cool comment to getting out of a fight, "I'll beat you" LOL. :laugh:

[Edited by rainingclaw on 02-12-2001 at 05:59 AM]

Ed Howard
12th February 2001, 10:44
I know it is almost a cliche now but it is as the man said
"It's the art of fighting without fighting."

Steve C
21st February 2001, 10:43
"It's the art of fighting without fighting."

... which is the name of a book by Geoff Thompson on how to recognise and deal with potentially aggressive situations without fighting. I recommend it highly. (Geoff Thompson is an ex-bouncer (and so well versed in the tactics of streetfighters) and, I believe, a christian (hence the relevance to this thread))


There was a military theorist of the nineteenth century who said (I paraphrase) "War is a political action taken when diplomacy fails"

Do we need, as warriors, to learn diplomacy first? When that fails, we can be confident of falling back on combat, but it shouldn't be our first resort. Anyone know of any good web resources that deal with defusing situations before they reach the physical level?

22nd February 2001, 17:15
I think your right Steve, martial arts should be seen as a last resort in dealing with a situation. I guess you could think of it as a sort of "mini-war" between you and the aggressor at hand. If all diplomatic efforts fail then you have no choice but to fall back on your martial arts training and fight. As far as diffusing situations I have found that all you need is to have worked as a sales associate in Sears and done tech support for computers, LOL. Seriously I have had to calm down frantic people many times. I guess the basics are just give in to any reasonable demands at the time. (Always be prepared to fight of course, donít compromise your position or give them an advantage.) Don't look threatening and don't appear weak, you don't want to be an easy target but you don't want it to look as if your challenging the person. Once you have established this then begin talking to the aggressor always maintaining a normal tone, make sure your diction is not hostile or demeaning, treat the person with respect. While your talking and trying to diffuse the situation always be aware of your surroundings, just in case you do have to fight, run way, etc. Iím sure you can find more info on the net, this is just what I would do. Iím sure there are things I am neglecting to mention but itís all I can think of now. If you want to do further research try looking up U.N. documentation. I think they have some basic guidelines on diplomacy.

Let us not forget that the avoidance of combat is part of the martial way of thinking. If you are a scout doing some recon in a war, do you want to take on the entire batallion of mechanized infantry you just discovered? I would think not.

Steve C
23rd February 2001, 09:14
Seriously I have had to calm down frantic people many times.

... which is self defence in action.

I'm assuming that the christians reading this thread are concerned about using the self-defence aspects of their arts rather than any sporting aspects of thier art?

Joseph Svinth
23rd February 2001, 10:37
John Gilbey always said that you get more with a smile and a gun than just a smile, and along these lines there is a guy who makes his living teaching what he calls "Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion." For an interview with him, see http://www.aikido2000.com/Features/Interviews/ai_Verbal_Judo.htm .

23rd February 2001, 13:08
You're right Steve, there is not much room for sports on the streets. Oh and Joseph, that quote you mentioned was by Al Cappone the famous gangster, lol. :)

Steve C
23rd February 2001, 13:29
So do people integrate conflict management into their training in any way?

Off the top of my head, I suppose there are several stages that lead to a physical defence situation. At each stage there's a best way to act; and our MA training is only appropriate in the most extreme situation. However, do people have trained responses/learning at any other levels?

So the stages I was talking about, and the types of reactions I would employ;

1. No danger at all => enjoy life!
2. In a potentially dangerous situation => Target hardening (i.e. seem less vulnerable)
3. Targetted by an agressor => Avoidance + seek help
4. Aggressive talk / challenge by aggressor => Diplomacy + seek help
5. Physical Attack => Martial Art / self defense technique

Anyone else use a different approach? how many people have thought about SD in this way? How many people train for any of these other things?


Kit LeBlanc
23rd February 2001, 14:31
Hey Guys,

I might be coming from a different place on this, mainly because of my work. Naturally, as an LEO I have a different reason for becoming involved in such instances, and thus I am generally not buying time to escape. On the job, diplomacy for me is usually convincing people to submit to my authority without a fight. So, very different environment.

I DO believe that in either instance, all the peaceful warrior crap is just that, crap. Budo are about tactically dealing with aggression, up to an including the physical option. They are NOT about avoiding physical altercations at all costs as part of some evolved concept of budo. Someone mentioned not appearing to challenge a person. Sometimes an aggressor needs to be challenged, and doing so will avoid a fight.

Many times you may not have to physically fight, but you do need to be victorious (Sun Zi's "acme of skill," remember). We should change our terminology; physical action should be used when appropriate, not as a last resort. With effective diplomacy violence is not appropriate, but there are times when diplomacy isn't working, and times when it is not even appropriate to try.

As for "Verbal Judo," "smile and a gun" is lot more where it is at for real world. I personally like the old Shakespeare quote "Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in, Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee" from Hamlet. That really encapsulates the essence of self defensive Budo for me.

Diplomacy will really only work from a perceived position of strength, as has been touched on. The aggressor can see that you are jacked up, whatever, but he has to KNOW that you mean what you say. By this I mean he has to KNOW that you completely okay with the situation becoming physical, and you are prepared to bring the fight to him.

Problem is that often diplomacy becomes a cover for unwillingness to fight. I don't mean fear, everyone has some level of trepidation about a physical encounter, particularly most middle class, never-been-in-a-fight-since-JR.-High-School budoka, but the gut level WILLINGNESS to fight.

But to bring it full circle, again you do have to look at the situation as tactically as you can. Getting into a fight with some guy in an unfamiliar bar is stupid, you don't know how many buddies he has there, etc. There you may have to think on your feet and try to manipulate the situation as best you can to get out of there.


23rd February 2001, 14:51
Handling a conflict through diplomacy is something I think few people train in, Steve. It's something more you do on your own accord, you make your own scenarios and come up with your own responses to certain situations. Martial arts is something I like to fall back on, I don't like to make it overt that I know martial arts. Like I said before, in a situation like the one we are discussing here you don't want to appear weak and you don't want to appear menacing. Just be confident of the situation and in your skill. Appearing weak or aggressive could be a way of triggering a fight in itself. Just be neutral shi-zen, (Sumimasen if I spelled it wrong.) and see what you can do to work things out. Oh, and Kit I agree with you totally, however there is one flaw in your logic...Sun Zi didn't have to worry about lawyers. :) There are times I wish I could throw the first punch and totally obliterate my opponent, but you have to be restrained unless you want to end up with a subpoena on your hands. LOL.

Almost forgot, Kit is right in that you have to maintain control of the situation at all times, but don't make it look like you do. It's nice to have another ace up your sleve :)

Steve C
23rd February 2001, 15:28
Has anyone ever seen any original (ie medieval japan or similar) material suggesting that budo actually culminates in peace? Where does this idea come from?

Here are a couple of quotes that suggest otherwise;

"We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaining one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai."

- ĎHagakureí, Yamamoto Tsunetomo.

"The Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death. ... Studying the Way of strategy is based on overcoming men. By victory gained in crossing swords with individuals, or enjoining battle with large numbers, we can attain power and fame for ourselves or for our lord. This is the virtue of strategy.

- 'A Book of Five Rings', Shinmen Musashi

23rd February 2001, 16:40
Ideals written in books differ from what was practiced in ones culture. I think it would be rare to find any written evidence to contradict what you have Steve. (I really wouldn't know though I'm not well versed in Japanese Lit. I'm going on pure logic.) If running from a battle to spare your life was cowardice and that lead to a loss of honor then its also safe to assume any tactical writings about running away from a battle would also lead to dishonor, that's why I assume this. After a life of constant conflict I would think some Samurai would get tired of it and not want it anymore, this explains how you have those old wise warrior sages who can kick major but but choose not to fight.

Also, no doubt there are Samurai who ran to fight another day. However due to the disgrace accompanied by this I doubt they would return to their lord, rather they would become Ronin. If you want an example of this look at The Seven Samurai, and how the leader of the group of hired Samurai was a Ronin who ran away in battle.

There are exceptions to every rule. I just think in this case you're not going to find much written proof of this in Japanese culture, since no one would have admitted to it at the time.

Kit LeBlanc
23rd February 2001, 18:58

You are correct that Sun Zi didn't worry about lawyers, in fact he didn't even worry about his commander in chief once in the field, but I find that whole lawyer argument to be indicative of other misconceptions that many martial artists seem to have. Either that, or it is used as an excuse for not taking an action that should have been taken, blaming "the law" and " I don't want to get sued."

In self defense, rarely is the aggressor determined by who threw the first punch. In fact, assault does not have to involve physical contact at all, which is why many states have "assault AND battery" laws. One is also not legally required to be physically assaulted before one takes defensive action, so long as what you do is reasonable. The totality of the circumstances is the operative factor.

If you, as a reasonable person, feel that you are in danger of imminent attack, you can strike first perfectly legally. Certainly you will place your legal fate in the hands of our jury system if you happen to get charged, but do you realize that should you strike second, you are in the same boat? Your response can go to far and turn into an assault in and of itself. Witnesses will make or break your case.

So it really is damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I recommend any martial arts instructors who are teaching self defense to take a handgun/concealed carry course. I don't care if you own a gun, they are great introductions to the legalities of using force in self defense, and not just using firearms.

But then we are drifting from the original intent of this thread.


Michael Becker
23rd February 2001, 20:57
How Does A Christian Handle MA Training?

200 years ago would practitioners of fencing and boxing be worrying about the morality of what they did and why? I doubt it. Were they any less pious? Hardly.

They were very much concerned with life and death combat then and with more good reason than those entertaining modern day warrior fantasies. Martial training then was geared towards a very real need for self defence . How many martial artists have to put their training to the test these days? Precious few-which is just as well for them.

What has changed is the society we live in, and that has been a consequence of liberal political pressure-not the Christian religion. We live in a modern society that officially frowns on violence ( while the movie biz and its hypocritical members make a fortune from its tawdry wares ).

I think much of the criticism of Asian arts by the Christian church stems more from their distrust of 'heathen' philosophies, ( the old demon/devil worshipping claims ) and a little xenophobia to boot.

Ed Howard
24th February 2001, 16:24
Hi guys
This is a great topic. I was just about to rare up on the guy he made the "peaceful warrior is crap" statement, but then he goes ahead and says exactly what I was going to say anyway!
I think there are a couple of points to be made. Firstly, we live in a very different world to the one where samurai could behead a peasant for "looking at them funny". The philosophy of budo what ever form it may take are affected by the time and situation. Hence Kit (sorry I forget your surname as I write this, no offence intended) has a reason to claim sometimes you need to use force. As a LEO you would be required to, and the law would back you up for the majority of incidents. Other budoka don't have that to fall back on, which is why I think avoiding any forceful contact is so important for regular members of society. Some of the stuff we learn in Karate, Jitsu, Judo etc is designed to cause maximum damage. Where does this leave us after? That is one of the paramount considerations to be taken, whether training or teaching.
Secondly there is the detached concept, that in any situation there are two options, in this case to fight or not to fight. The more aware a practitioner is of the potential outcomes of both these situations, the better qualified he is to chose what will be good for him/herself, his family, the guy he is against, the people watching and on to infinity. There is no right or wrong, only the way you decide is best.
As a student of Japan, I have yet to come across much on peaceful warriors (actually that phrase keeps conjuring up a monty python sketch was there a pink knight? anyway I digress), although it seems to me that the vogue started with the founder of Judo's ideas and wishes for the progression of his art. He made his mind up, set out his stall and the results whether you like them or not are astounding. That is the true martial way I think. That isn't to say that a guy who values breaking someones neck higher than anything else will come along and be just as influential. And I am more than half serious when I say that is why Frank Sinatra sold so many of that record!
All the best
Ed Howard