1. How do you define Martial Arts?
Martial arts is the discipline of one’s mind and body through the use of physical activity. Because martial arts is also an ‘art’ it is also a form of expression, much like music or dance, giving rise to the appreciation and in some ways an understanding of the Chinese culture.
Christian Wushu Fellowship is an organization that allows Christians and non-Christians to come together using the Chinese Martial Arts & Chinese Culture as a common bond.
Teaching from a Christian perspective means that we use Biblical truths and explore God’s gift of rudimentary physics and body mechanics to explain techniques and principles.
Part of loving your neighbor, is defending the weak, the orphans, and the widows. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27, NIV) Would you not say then that by defending those that are being attacked, such as your loved ones, we are placing those words of ‘loving your neighbor’ into action? Also Jesus Christ mentions that ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:13, NIV).
Based on commentaries that I have read on Luke 6:29 & Matthew 5:39, when translating from the Greek text, the ‘strike’ means to slap with the back of the hand. Context in which Christ is speaking is with regards to rejection, an attack of one’s honor and religious persecution rather than physical harm. Based on this evidence, I do not find that the teaching or the learning of martial arts stands in contradiction to the reference of ‘turning the other cheek’. I do find that through martial arts, self-discipline can be taught and can be used to help ‘turn the other cheek’ in the Biblical sense which it was used. (Commentary Sources: InterVarsity Press “IVP New Testament Commentary Series”, Zondervan “NIV Study Bible”, Christian Research Institute: ‘Enter the Dragon? Wrestling with the Martial Arts Phenomenon Part Two: A Christian Assessment’ by Erwin de Castro, B. J. Oropeza, and Ron Rhodes)
No. Interestingly enough, martial or ‘military’ arts have been present throughout the world without the presence of Buddhism or Taoism. However, ‘Eastern’ martial arts the principle of ‘mind-body-spirit’ has been used. With the ‘mind’ meaning intent, or direction, ‘body’ being physical health and ability and ‘spirit’ being spiritual philosophy. The instructor and his or her beliefs determine this third component ‘Spirit’ and how much of it is in the martial art that they teach.
This I believe is something each Christian must weigh and pray about for themselves. Though Christ never taught fighting techniques, it is interesting to note His words to His disciples prior to His arrest to “He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That is enough,” he replied. (Luke 22:36-38, NIV).
Bowing in the Chinese culture is a courteous and respectful way of greeting your Sifu (Instructor) and to others. The ‘receiver’ of the bow also bows in return. This is similar to shaking hands in Western cultures. This form of bowing is not what God is referring to in the Bible. There He is warning about bowing down before false gods or idols and “worshipping” them as a true god. While martial arts students may admire their Sifu, they do not worship him as a god.
Chi power is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. In Eastern philosophy such as Taoism, chi is the ‘universal energy’ that binds all things together and can be manipulated to our wills. I believe this is wrong from the Christian point of view. My own personal opinion is that chi power is nothing more than our God-given minds and body focused and directed using the principles of physics and body mechanics in a singular purpose.
One could argue that neither music, movies, nor other activities such as football, cycling were never developed from a Christian perspective but if we look around us all of these now exist. By presenting the martial arts in a way that is not contradictory to the Bible and living the Christian faith in full view of both Christians and non-Christians, we help to demonstrate the greatest commandment ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27).
At Christian Wushu Fellowship we accept all people regardless of your personal beliefs. But we also expect the same courtesy for the way the class is taught. From time to time we will present the gospel that Jesus Christ is the Son of God that He suffered and died and rose from the dead for your sins and that by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior you can be assured of an eternal life in heaven.
We at CWF will respect your decision and will continue to teach you the full curriculum in the martial arts.
What makes Christianity different from all the other religions & philosophies of the world is that YOU have to make the decision to accept or reject Christ. Only by accepting the free gift given by Christ can we enter into a personal relationship with God and obtain eternal life. No one can force you or ‘convert’ you to Christianity!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)
‘Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6)
‘Whoever believes in the Son [Jesus] has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son [Jesus] will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”‘(John 3:26, NIV) [Added for understanding]
“For it is by grace you have been saved [given eternal life in heaven], through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works [good deeds], so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV) [Added for understanding]
This answer comes from a real incident: One day, the Sifu is teaching the WuTe in the basement of a Church,”How not to fight with people, and using the art to help the weak”. In the Church gym, another group of people were playing basketball. The group playing basketball invited some friends to join them, and during the basketball game, it ended up in a fight, and the police were called. The Police stopped all activities in the church. During the Police’s investigation, they found out that the Shifu (Sifu) was teaching the ToDai (students) how to avoid and deflecting force in a fight using Chinese Martial Arts, so that a fight becomes an art or a game rather than an exchange of punches & kicks. Then one of the Police officers made the comment, “What makes the Church Administrators think that they are making the best decision in running a teenager basketball game? We should send these guys down here to learn about “Respect” & “Discipline”.”
Our Savior, Jesus Christ, descended to this world,
Showing people the love and spirit of the cross deep in His sacrifice;
Martial artists are drawn so near to Him and worship His power in unity,
Their heart of worship, filled with respect and modesty, is ever conveyed by their intellectual wisdom and physical skills.
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”
Luke 1:46-46 (NIV)