the weblog of Alan Knox

Christian martial arts?

Posted by on Apr 2, 2007 in discipleship | 2 comments

My children are learning Tae Kwon Do from a young lady named Cheryl. (You can find a picture of Cheryl here.) Cheryl’s school is called “Christian Martial Arts” and meets in downtown Wake Forest. Now, some may wonder why it matters that Cheryl teaches “Christian” martial arts. To ask the question in another way, “What makes ‘Christian Martial Arts’ a Christian school?” There may be many ways to answer these questions and to explain the difference between a normal martial arts school and one that can be called Christian. Perhaps this story will help explain the difference.

Last weekend, Cheryl’s school participated in its first Tae Kwon Do tournament. Cheryl’s students competed in different age groups in forms (demonstrating basic techniques), sparring (fighting against an opponent for points), and weapons (demonstrating technique with a weapon). Cheryl’s school won almost every age group and category in which they competed—from the youngest yellow belt to Cheryl in the black belt category. However, this has very little, if anything, to do with Cheryl teaching “Christian” martial arts. While Christians should have a good work ethic in anything that they do, others can have good work ethics as well. In fact, students from other schools won their age groups and categories without being part of a “Christian” martial arts school.

The students from Cheryl’s school had a good attitude throughout the competition. When a student made a mistake, that student admitted their mistake and accepted the lower scores. There were no temper tantrums nor did any of the students blame the judges for their scores. Toward the end of the day, when the students were tired from competing in several events, neither their attitudes nor their behavior faltered. While Christians should maintain a good attitude and right conduct in spite of difficult circumstances, this does not demonstrate the difference in Cheryl teaching “Christian” martial arts. There were many students from other schools that also had good attitudes and demonstrated good behavior during the tournament.

Several people came to the tournament to support Cheryl and her school. As usual, the students each came in with their entourage of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandmothers, grandfathers, and other assorted family members and friends. Also, many of Cheryl’s friends came to the tournament, even though they had no connection to Tae Kwon Do other than being a friend to Cheryl. The students, family, friends, and assorted well-wishers stayed over four hours until the end of the tournament in order to cheer for all of the students, from the youngest competitor to Cheryl herself. However, having friends and supports does not make this school “Christian”. In fact, other schools also had groups of supporters and cheering sections.

So, if neither having a good work ethic, nor having good behaviors and attitudes, nor being surrounded by friends and family make “Christian Martial Arts” into a Christian Tae Kwon Do school, then what does? Well, it is actually very simple. “Christian Martial Arts” is Christian for the simple reason that Cheryl is a disciple of Jesus Christ. She attempts to live out her faith in Jesus in everything she does: being a woman, a wife, a friend, and even a Tae Kwon Do instructor. Similarly, as a follower of Jesus Christ, she recognizes that when she interacts with other people, she should be making disciples. This does not make her perfect; it does not make her better. However, being a living, growing, visible, disciple-making follower of Jesus Christ does make her a Christian.


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  1. 4-2-2007

    Excellent point, Alan. And if we generalize this idea to all of us, then no matter what we do, it should be “Christian”: Christian salesman, Christian construction worker, Christian nurse, Christian truck driver, etc. We represent Christ to the world! And on a personal note, our family sure misses Cheryl and the tae kwon do!

  2. 4-2-2007


    We miss seeing Caroline and Mary at Tae Kwon Do. You would have enjoyed the tournament.