August 22, 2003

What does Kung Fu have to do with Christianity?

>To minister or to be a minister:
A while back, I had lunch with the KF class at Mongolian BBQ. While at lunch, I discussed historical and religious topics with one of the new students, a history/religion major. After a ways into the conversation, he stops and gives me a puzzled look. "Are you a religion major?" he asks. Here I would like to pause time and consider something.
•Why did he look puzzled?
•Why did he think I was a religion major?
As to the first question, I do not know. But as to the second, I am very familiar with the answer. Although, I am not a Biblical scholar by any means, nor do I have a great familiarity with Scripture, I am not unable to discuss with some knowledge things of God and the Scripture. When people hear this, they automatically assume that "He must be a religion major" or "he must be planning to become a minister" My response has always been: Are ALL Christians called to minister? Or is it just a select few that God was talking to in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) Of course, some people are called to be ministers in a special office within the Church, but yes, ALL Christians are called to minister. In order to minister, all Christians need to know what they believe and what God says! All Christians are called to minister, even if they are not called to be ministers. Every Christian should so conduct themselves that it is common place to be able to speak with even a hint of authority on such matters? We all have different frames of reference with which we understand and learn these things, but God desires for us to know certain things about Him and how He wants us to live. The specific frame of reference is not as important as the fact that we have one.
>“Kung fu” is an expression of my Faith:
God takes your talents and desires and redeems them to bring Him glory in both personal growth and public ministry. Your hobbies can be either a stepping stone or a stumbling block in your walk with Christ. I have been a martial artist my whole life, at the age of 6 I decided that I was going to master and then teach KF; however, I was not given an opportunity to learn any martial art until the age of 18. God made me wait. Why did He make me wait? Because he wanted to test me to prove that I could handle KF and to show me what He wanted me to do with it. One day God asked me if I was willing to sacrifice my KF for Him. I really struggled over that decision. I loved the martial arts, but I loved God more, and I eventually determined that, Yes, I would give up my KF for Christ if He asked me to. It was then that God provided me a godly teacher to train me in both KF and how to use it for His glory. God then began to use KF as a frame of reference to teach me those things that He desired for me to learn. Now, let me show you what I mean.

>The Purpose of KF is to do two things
1.) Develop yourself, and
2.) Learn Control – self/opponent
Action/Reaction Cycle:
In the movie The Perfect Weapon with Jeff Speakman, Jeff is a man who has always had a trouble with his anger. He often times snaps and loses all control and then retaliates out of his anger. In an effort to help his son remedy that problem Jeff’s father enrolls him in a martial arts class to teach him self-control. A consistent theme throughout this whole movie is the Tiger/Dragon conflict. The tiger is young, strong, and fast but impetuous and reacts without thought to stimulus, but the dragon is the epitome of wisdom and always wins because he is smarter and does not react but instead responds with the appropriate action. Often you see this, one guy pushes another guy who pushes him back who pushes back, who hits back who then hits back and it continues to escalate until it is a no holds bared, nock down drag out fight to the death. And all because the guy said he didn’t like your car! Why, why couldn’t the guy just evaluate the situation and be willing to respond with a new action that although requires humility, would have actually gotten him further along than simply responding to the action with a new action. Jesus talked about this in Matthew on the Sermon on the Mount, saying “You have heard it been said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say unto you bless those that curse you, love those who hate you…” Jesus says that we should respond to people’s actions with a new action, respond to anger with love. Respond to other peoples pride with your humility, the Bible says a soft answer turns away wrath. If I fight your force along the same lines as your force then the stronger force will win, but my Shrfu will take a strong man and have him push against Shrfu’s finger and Shrfu will control the man by not resisting along the same lines as the mans force but simply redirecting it along the many different avenues the man is not applying his force. Through helping me to understand the AVR cycle and how it hinders my walk with Christ and my relations with others and in so doing, hinders my ministry. I look toward Christ and learn to respond to actions with right motives and attitudes instead of simply reacting to actions with wrong motives and attitudes.
Pride v Humility:
I like to remember that big heads make better targets, but having an accurate assessment of myself will allow me to plan my attack in a manner that will be successful. Humility is knowing who you really are, and not believing the lie that is pride. When I learn what pride is and how it can hinder my ability to see things as they are and see myself as I am thus allowing myself to escape situations that I cannot handle successfully and respond to people and situations in the correct manner.
Perception v Reality:
As a fighter, I wish to make my opponent to perceive the situation (my skill, my resources, or my actions) as being something other than what they in reality are. This is the concept of faking. Understanding that my perception of events and what is in reality occurring are not always the same things allows me to be able to look past the “fake” that is offered to me, and see the situation as it really is enables me to set my own plan into action and keep control of the situation.
Seasons and Sashes:
In KF class, the student begins with nothing. From this point of having nothing, they test for their white sash, from there they progress to their green sash, and then to their brown sash, and then finally to their black sash. This progression of sashes is very much like the progression of seasons in our life. We start with nothing. My Shrfu is fond of saying that the way to keep your name on the board in class that shows students according to rank is by getting your name on the board by getting your white sash. This is much like salvation; the secret to keeping it is getting it. But our life is a series or progression of periods that the Bible calls seasons. In each sash, you learn different things and develop different skills. Likewise, in each season of your life you learn different things and develop different skills. However, if as a white sash, I am always looking to become a green sash and thus increase in rank and status within the class instead of seeking to learn all I can while I am a white sash then I am missing the point and failing to benefit from the sash that Shrfu has awarded me. God has given us seasons in our life to benefit us, such as childhood, singleness, matrimony, and so on. But too many times we look at those seasons as problems we need to remedy instead of blessings that we can benefit from.
Fear God:
One of the first things God taught me through KF was what it meant to Fear Him. He taught me this by putting me into a relationship with a person, my Shrfu and his teacher, that modeled that Fear. The Scriptures tell us to fear God. What does that mean? Is it a real fear, such as I am scared of Him? You better believe it! But it is more than that. It is more of a deep, well grounded respect. I respect my Shrfu and his teacher so much that I am afraid of them. I am afraid to do something that upset them. Take that concept and put it on a much grander scale and that is the way I should view God.
Family of Believers/Martial Artists:
One of the things that I find most unique about my KF association is that it so perfectly models for me the way the Church Universal is supposed to be. My KF association is composed of my Shrfu’s teacher at the head, and his students under him that make up individual schools, and under them are their students. There is such a feeling of family and acceptance and community and respect among this group of people. I can go to Vegas, or Ohio, or Fargo, or KC and instantly be accepted into the KF School there as if I were a brother coming to visit from far away despite the fact that those people don’t know me from Adam. Yet, we all are united under the banner of our Suye in the same organization. That is the way the church is. We are all united under the banner of Christ, in the organization which is the church as family despite the fact that I may not know some of them from Adam, and we may come from all walks of life and backgrounds yet we are all family through Christ.
Disciplines of Christianity and Ranges of combat:
As Christians we are warriors, soldiers in the Army of the Lord fighting a war. Satan, our adversary, is doomed to defeat due to the act of sacrifice at the Cross, but he is desperate to take as many people with him as possible. Satan seeks to accomplish two things:
1.) Prevent people from becoming Christians, and should he fail
2.) Prevent those who have become Christians from being useful soldiers in the cause against him.
Now Satan is an adversary far above our sad and pathetic means, he is crafty and quick and stronger than any one or group of us; however, we have the hole card, the veritable Ace – Jesus, and He is more than able to defeat Satan. Thus we are more than conquerors through Him. However, if we are to be able to be used by Christ to defeat Satan, we must do certain things. The first thing is to place Christ as the Lord of your life. This is vital; He must be the center of balance in our spiritual lives. In KF we call the center of balance the Dan Tian and it is very important that we keep this part of our body stable and not trying to break harmony with it, because if we do we lose all power in combat. Now, in KF there are four ranges of combat I have to be strong in if I am to be an effective and well rounded fighter: Kicking, punching, trapping, and grappling. Now if I am weak in any one of those areas, some one who is strong in all of them will eventually be able to push me into that weak range and thus have an edge. If he gets an edge over me and I am not able to gain it back, then I will lose. Now in spirituality there are four disciplines of being a strong Christian: Reading the Word, Praying within the will of God, Fellowshipping with believers, and Witnessing to the world. If we as Christians do not develop all of these disciplines with equal emphasis then I will not have the skill that I must have in order to have Christ use me to defeat Satan.
Relationship witnessing:
Paul talks about studying to show ourselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15) and Peter talks about being always ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us (1 Pet. 3:15). I liken this to a quote from Bruce Lee. He was talking to his teacher in his movie Enter the Dragon describing his fighting style. He said that when his opponent contracts, he expands; and when his opponent expands, he contracts; and when an opening presents itself, he does not hit, it hits by itself. When we witness, we enter into relationships with other people, be it from perfect strangers talking to each other in a gas station or long-term friends discussing matters of the heart. As you talk and interact, they say something to you, and you listen; you say something to them and they listen; and when an opening presents itself, you don't think "witness", you just witness without thinking.
Bruce’s fighting ability is possible only because of his diligent practice and intention to fight. Likewise our ability to witness instinctively requires us to train diligently with the intention of witnessing. While Bruce Lee trained by learning physical techniques and going through ritual combat sets (forms), talking and listening to his teacher, practicing with classmates, and helping to teach younger students; we train by studying the Word, praying to God, fellowshipping with other believers, and witnessing.
While a well rounded fighter seeks to become proficient in all four ranges of unarmed combat (kicking, punching, trapping, and grappling) a strong Christian should seek to become strong in all four disciplines of Christianity: 1) reading the Word 2) praying in the will of God 3) fellowshipping with believers 4) witnessing. Without training in those four disciplines we (Christians) will be never be strong. Diligent training, dedicated practice.
Let me encourage you with this promise from Scripture:
"For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist." Luke 21:15 Prepare your heart and let the Lord speak through you.
Robbing ourselves of Power:
Shrfu talks all the time about bad habits that students have that rob them of power and the real benefit of practice. Such things as speed over precision and muscle over technique serve as examples to me of things that we as Christians do to rob ourselves of power and influence in our ministries.
Segregated Christianity:
Let me share with you some of the ways that Christians are foiled in their ministry, robbed of precious opportunities to minister. It is a common practice for Christians of today to segregate their faith. You know what I mean; we have different areas of our life: employment, entertainment, education, and enlightenment (work, play, school, and religion). We like to keep those areas of our life compartmentalized, separated from all other aspects of our lives, which is ok. However, we like to compartmentalize Christ as well, which is not ok. You may ask me, “What do you mean?” Well, here it is in a nutshell: We exclude Christ from certain places and activities of our lives, restricting Him to Church and Church people. But Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. We either need to allow Christ full access to all areas of our lives, allowing Him to flow freely into all activities of our lives (work, play, school, and religion) or we don’t let Him in at all. It’s all or none people! Remember who you are in Christ and who you represent everywhere you are, and with everything that you do. The word Integrity is based on the same root as integral, and it means being wholly one person. Are you the same person at work as you are with your friends during play, or at church, or at school? What kind of things do you do at work, what kind of movies do you watch, and what things do you talk about at school? You can’t claim to be a person of integrity if you are not wholly one person all the time. We as Christians lose so much power by not being sincere about our faith to the world. Sincerity is the secret to being a powerful witness to the world and the secret to sincerity is being wholly focused on Christ and developing your relationship with Him. When we do that, all other things will fall into place in due time.

One of the things I really like about the book I kissed dating goodbye by Joshua Harris, is his concept of purity. Harris says that Purity is a direction, not a line in the sand! It took me a very long time to understand that concept, but here is my best shot at trying to explain it to you. If purity is defined as a line that I cannot cross, then I can still be pure no matter what I do as long as I don’t cross that line. I can get as close as I want, and my nature will want to get very close. So, if my line is abstinence until marriage, then I can do everything but sleep with that girl and still be pure. But is that what the Bible says? No, it says flee from evil. Run away! Run very far away, in the opposite direction from sin. So is purity a line in the sand, no. It is a direction. I should be all the time moving away from unclean things and then I am pure.
Guard Hearts and Eyes:
Another thing that Mr. Harris talked about in his book was that Guys need to stop viewing themselves, and acting like hunters or players in the dating game and instead need to start viewing themselves and behaving like Warriors of Honor, guarding the hearts of women. That means doing whatever it takes to not cause a girls heart to be focused where it shouldn’t be, like on us instead of Christ. And Girls need to start guarding the eyes of Guys. They often don’t realize that their gift of beauty is often flaunted by their wardrobe and it draws our eyes to their bodies instead of to themselves and thus makes it difficult keep our minds on Christ. How am I supposed to be a minister of the gospel, when I am constantly barraged with visual stimulants that cause my mind to be thinking about everything but Christ? I can’t talk to people about the love of Christ, when I am fighting lust on every corner. We too often fail to realize that what we wear tells people about us, and we need to consider what we want to tell them. If we are to minister we need to not do things that hinder our ministry, but rather help it along.
>A thesis for ministry:
One of the things that I have found helpful in keeping myself on track and effective in my ministry is giving it a thesis. You might be wondering what that is. Well, I got the idea from A.W. Tozer. In my world literary types class I had to do a paper on him. What I learned about him was that he had a thesis for his ministry: To know God like God desired to be known by us. Everything he did revolved around that theme. This inspired me to come up with a thesis for my own ministry, something that I could use to help me keep every area of my life focused on what it needed to be. This is what I came up with:
"To make a positive impact everywhere I go, and on every one I meet for Christ and His kingdom."
What’s yours?

Posted by GodzScout at August 22, 2003 03:34 AM


i'm a strong christian, and i love jesus with all my heart. i'm 16 and australian.
i also love kung fu.
but one problem is that before i became a christian, i was buddhist. and i'm afraid if i get back into kungfu it will drag me back to my sinfull life.
i guess i just have to rely on god to show me a path, hugh?

Posted by: daniel o'regan at September 23, 2003 12:45 AM

Hi Daniel:

Your first and foremost priority should be YOUR walk with God. Before God provided me with a teacher and an oppertunity to study KF He first put me through a test. He asked me if I would be willing to give it up if He asked me to, it was not until after I determined that I would, that He gave me a good teacher.

I believe your willingness to not study is encouraging. It shows where your real priority is, and it is wise. Your goal in life should be to minister in the Kingdom and to spread the Gospel of Christ, in any way, if studying the Martial Arts will hinder that, then like Paul, remove everything that hinders and strive for your goal. Use things that are stepping stones and foresake the stumbling blocks. And maybe someday God will strengthen you to the point that you will be able to, once again, use your experience in the martial arts to His glory.

God bless you in your ministry


Posted by: Read Wall at September 23, 2003 11:58 AM

We own a kung fu school in Perth, Western Australia, and have been Christians for over 20 years. My husband has studied KF for 10 years. He had wanted to learn the art his whole life, so finally we decided to research the topic. Not one Christian has been able to show us in God's Word where it would be contrary to our beliefs. At the church where we fellowshipped at the time, one of the members had converted from buddhism, she had been a devout buddhist her whole life until she converted to Christianity. We spoke with her, and she confirmed what was already in our hearts - KF was practiced by buddhists monks, but had nothing to do with buddhism itself. It would be like saying buddhists eat rice, so therefore eating rice is sinful! We did discover however, not all the martial arts can be separated from the spiritual pursuits they are associated with! KF however is not one of them :) I could go on forever here - I've studied this very topic for ages :) - but let me just finish by saying - your article was incredibly encouraging ;) Please drop by our web site and say hello :)

Posted by: administrator at November 21, 2003 08:02 AM

I have to ask you if you are involved in the American Tang Shou Tao Hsing-i association. Form your article it sure sounded like it. I am a follower of Christ and I take classes in Fargo under Shrfu Richard Deisler. If you are involved in this org PLEASE e-mail me.

God Bless you and yours, Justin Adkins

Posted by: Justin Adkins at December 15, 2003 10:45 AM

Very encouraging reading! Thank you! God bless you.

Posted by: Espen at December 30, 2003 06:01 PM