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Christian Budo from my perspective by David E. Somers

For a while now, I've been wanting to write an article on what Martial Arts is, and is not from my perspective, but have not done so, until now.

Awhile ago, someone came up to me, & told me, you know as a christian, you are going to have to give up Karate; Because it is not christian like. At first it made me very upset at this individual, but then began to realize that he does not know what the martial arts is truly about.

So I began my search, within the bible, to find scripture, to share with him. After some thought, or perhaps a vision from God, I began putting the two together, in an article about what martial arts is/is not, & looking at martial arts from a christian perspective, as written in the scripture; resulting in this article.

Budo, or martial ways, is just like it says, a way of life. But, lets look further into the characters/kanji of Budo. Bu is made up of two characters, one being for the character of stop, the other of the character spear. Do, also sometimes pronounced michi, is often translated as way. In John 14:6, it is written, Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. So, the characters put together mean way of stopping the spear; so this indicates it is a way of stopping violence. In 2 Samuel 23:21, it is written, And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear. See the Kanji below:

Budo

Also within Karate, there is a saying, Karate ni sente nashi, or that there is no first strike in Karate . So if we look to proverbs 10:23, it states "It is a sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom". Further, it is written in Matthew 5:9 that, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Within Budo, there is a saying, Bun bu ryo do, or the way of the warrior, & scholar are one in the same, which is the previously written kanji. For in Psalms 25:4 it says "Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths". Ever since the beginning of my life, I had a slow development, & was in learning disability classes through out school, & even began talking later in life, then most children. I believe God has blessed me with Karate/Budo, & as a result I have began reading Karate/martial arts magazines, & books at an early age. I went from a boy that can hardly read, speak, & write, that through God's blessing of Karate/Budo that I am the literate man I am today; always seeking more knowledge with the spirit of Shoshin, or beginners mind; which is written below:

Shin, Gi, Tai

There are three area's of development in Budo,in japanese it is pronounced Shin, Gi, Tai; or Heart/mind, technique, & body.

I would like to go on to discuss each of these three area's of development, however I would like to discuss the Kanji, or written ideogram/character of the word shin, you see in Okinawan/Japanese culture they use the same character(kanji) for both heart, & mind, as they believe the mind, and heart are one in the same. However, of the Bushi's (warrior gentlemen) three area's of development, the development of the heart/mind is of primary importance. For in, Matthew 5:8, it is written, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. In Luke 6:45 it says "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil {man} out of the evil {treasure} brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart" ; In 1 Timothy 1:5, it tells us, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." Further, it is written in, Philippians 4:7, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" this indictates the heart/mind connection. This is done through following the Dojo Kun, or way place instruction, practicing reigi/reishiki (manners, customs, & etiquette), studying, and always having a beginners mind (shoshin). In the past, there was the study of Ikebana (flower arrangement), haiku (poetry), shodo (calligraphy) & music, as well as other things to complete the total person. However, today, especially in western society, most if not all of these area's of development are not taught/practiced any longer. Nowadays, many overlook the development of the heart/mind, and just concentrate on development of the technique, & their body; Because greed has taken over, & many have forgotten why they have began teaching, for the love of it, but, have given in to the mighty dollar bill. The late, great Miyagi Chojun, & his student Miyazato Eiichi, said it best, "you should not eat from Karate". I believe what they meant by this is that, not that you should not charge for instruction, but it should not be your primary source of income, as you will forget why you began teaching (For the love of it) , and let greed take over. The Bible says in Isaiah 46:6-8, "Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it. They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Though one cries out to it, it does not answer; it cannot save him from his troubles. Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels." In Proverbs 11:24-28 it says "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell. He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it. Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf". Further, it is written in, 1 Timothy 6:7-12, "For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Paul's Charge to Timothy 11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." Then, if you skip down to verse 17, it states: "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." I believe also that if someone has the sincere desire to learn, has a good heart, & tries hard, you should not be turned away, cause of lack of funds. However, many do not feel the same, & neglect, or perhaps never learned about the development of the heart, from their own instructors, I think it is a shame, & saddens me very much, because much is neglected. Other scripture you should see are Matt 19:20-26, and Is. 55:2.

The next area of development is Gi, or technique. This is done ( In my primary style of Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate Do) by repetition of Kihon Waza (basic techniques),Kata ( or forms), & various forms of Kumite (fighting), including Yaksoku kumite also sometimes refered to as Kiso kumite(prearranged fighting), Kakie (Push hands), Jiyu Kumite sometimes called iri kumi (Free fighting) , & Bunkai/Oyo, the applications of the movements of a Kata (form). In Psalms 144:1, it tells us, "Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight". Also see, II Samuel 22:30-49.

The next area of development is Tai, or body. This is done thru Junbi Undo, or warm up exercises; Hojo Undo, or supplementary exercises done with Okinawan style weights; and through Sanchin Kata. Sanchin, which means three battles in Nihon Go, or the japanese language, are the three battles of the body, mind, & spirit. Sanchin is a Kata that is performed with dynamic tension, breathing, isometrics, and shime. Shime is the testing of Sanchin conducted by your Sempai, meaning someone senior to you, or your Sensei. It is done to not only correct you Sanchin Kata, but to condition your body to be able to to withstand taking a blow, to develop concentration, & help to develop a strong spirit. For in, 1 Cor: 19 and 20, it states: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. In Isaiah 54:17, it is through the development of Gi, or the body, that we learn that no weapons formed against me shall prosper. Several years ago, I was hit by a drunk driver while on the side of the interstate, when he struck me, he pinned me between my car, & his car. I did not even see him coming, because I was unloading my trunk to get my spare tire out. I had three witnesses, they all thought I was dead, because of the way I was hit; and my upper body had been slung into the trunk of my car. My witnesses went around the bend in the road, & come running around the corner, to find me pounding on this guys window. I had some minor injuries, like nerve damage, soft tissue damage, & water gain; But, I had no broken bones, & I am still alive today, because of God's blessing of Karate, that has made my body strong. It was because of this divine intervention, that I am alive today, have rededicated my life to the lord today, & he has allowed me to share this testimony with you. That is why I know there is a God today, for I could of been dead that day, & where would of my soul of went? To hell, because at that time, I was not saved, but God has given me a second chance in life, & am thankful for his divine intervention; & the blessings in my life since I have turned myself over to him.

Mushin

It is through the development of Shin, Gi, Tai, you reach a level called Mushin(see the above Kanji), or no mindedness, where your mind takes over your body, & God guides you along; Because in Psalms 27 it tells us: The lord is my light, and salvation, whom shall I fear? The lord is the strength of my life whom shall I be afraid. Further it tells us in psalms 23:4, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thus stating through the study of karate, & Kobudo, an Okinawan weapons art, we should not be afraid, for he will guide us (Mushin), and give us the knowledge to defend ourselves. But, for those that are not students of Budo, the best way to describe Mushin, would be when a person is given the strength from God to lift a car off of a loved one in an accident. For in the bible, it tells us, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

One cannot discuss Budo, without the mentioning of Bushido, which means, way of the gentlemen warrior(see above Kanji); Bushido, was an unwritten code the Japanese Samurai lived by. These are the virtues of the Samurai: Gi(Right Decisions) (Should be Justice and Morality), Yu -courage, Jin -Benevolence, Rei-Respect, Makoto- Shin-Honesty, Meiyo-Honor, or glory, gi- Loyalty, Chu - Preservation of ethics, Ko - Respect for one's elders/parents, Chi - wisdom , & Tei - Care for the aged .

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, it is written, "19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." So as you can see, by looking at martial arts from this perspective, there is nothing about trying to beat someone up, or hurt anyone. It is about being a good person, living a good, pure life, developing a strong body, & learning to defend yourself if the need should be there; and that many of the teachings of Budo, are the same as that of in the bible. I do hope that this has opened your heart/mind to understand what Budo is truly about, the development of a good heart.