Jesus and Self Defense

by William Durbin, Soke of Kiyojute Ryu

          I’ve always felt the presence of God in my life and was very thankful for that.  At age seven I accepted the Lord as my savior and was baptized.  At age fourteen I accepted the call to the Gospel ministry and began preaching in little churches around Bardstown.

          Like all people who believe in Jesus Christ, while I have made mistakes, I would never do something as a life choice or occupation that I did not believe was right in the eyes of my savior.

 

CHRISTIAN SELF DEFENSE

          I’ve met some people who wonder how I as a Christian can teach self defense, since most people today think of martial arts as just some deadly form of violence.  Sadly when we look at the sports that purport to be martial arts it is easy to see why some Christians would believe that you can’t do martial arts and be Christian.

          I must admit, I don’t think you can be a Christian and do a violent form of competition.  (What constitutes a violent form of competition I leave up to all people who profess Christian faith.  But let me emphasize I believe that violent competition cannot really be engaged in by an enlightened Christian.)

          Now the reason I began to learn self defense was because I was a picked on and tortured youth in high school.  Some of my peers even went so far as to threaten to kill me.  (Those stories are told in some of the books I have written and so will not be repeated here.)

          After a beating I suffered, my parents said that God never intended for us to be treated like that and while they told me never to start a fight, they said if I was attacked it was right for me to defend myself.

          My Dad was a veteran of World War II and trained in the hand-to-hand combat of that era.  He gave me my first lesson of self defense, skills which I still practice today along with what I have learned from my martial arts instructors.

          As I got older I began to wonder if practicing self defense was right for a Christian.  I came to an understanding that Christians should not spar, or competitively Randori, or engage in any form of competitive fighting.

          We should not harm anybody, willfully or unwittingly.  When I went to college I engaged in Judo Randori and Karate sparring, which is very similar to MMA bouts today.  I engaged in matches with wrestlers, Judoka, and Karateka.  The guys told me that sparring was an essential part of real Karate practice.

          During those matches I was pitted in Randori against some of my best friends, as well as, sparred with them.  In one Judo match when I went for a choke I accidentally bloodied my very best friend.  I have knocked people out in sparring matches using both hands and feet.

          I always felt bad when I hurt someone in sparring, but I was told that it was a necessary part of training.  But as I researched the real methods of training of the martial arts, when they were actual forms of combat, I came to understand that Kata and Embu (sometimes referred to as Tandoku Kata and Sotai Kata or Tandoku Embu and Sotai Embu) were the real methods of training for the reality of combat.

          In these methods of training safety is always the first priority.  Real self defense is practiced and the real skills of combat are developed which include Kyusho, vital points of self defense, and Ryuki, the flow of the internal energy, necessary for real combat.

          Thus once the idea of self defense practice not needing to be brutal or vicious is overcome, we still need to look at the idea of self defense itself, is it right for a Christian?

          To me the best test of any action in which a Christian should engage is, would or did Jesus do it?  You know the old adage, what would Jesus do?  Better yet, what did Jesus do?

 

JESUS AND SELF DEFENSE

          Did Jesus defense himself during his lifetime?  The answer is yes!  Presented will be quotes from the Bible, using scripture paraphrased from KJV and NIV.

          The following Old Testament scripture mentions aspects of ancient martial arts and principles, which show the universality of these arts, and principles in combat even in ancient Jewish society.  Note some of them are: Goho (strength), Hichojutsu (leaping art, i.e., deer’s feet), Noborijutsu (climbing art, stand on the heights), Tameshiwari (breaking skills), and Juho (gentleness makes great).

          Psalm 18:32-35           ‘It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the deer’s feet; he enables me to stand on the heights.  He trains my hands for battle; my arms can break a bow of bronze.  You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; your gentleness makes me great.’

          Jesus noted that we should not fight over insults or abusive actions, which are not actual life threatening events.  A slap in the face was an insult in ancient times not a serious attack.

          Matthew 5:38-39        ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.  But I tell you, do not resist evil.  If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’

          Yet we will note that in these three events taken from scriptures, Jesus did defend himself in some manner.  Hiding is like the skills of Ninjutsu while passing through the midst and escaping out of the hands is analogous to Kaihi and Kaeshi Waza, dodging and releasing techniques of Kempo, Jujutsu, Karate and other martial arts.

          Luke 4:28-30               ‘All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.  They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.  But he walked right through the midst of the crowd and went on his way.’

          John 8:59                      ‘At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.’

          John 10:31&39           ‘Again they picked up stones to stone him…and they tried to seize him, but he escaped out of their hands.’

 

MAGICAL OR PHYSICAL

          Some people when they are confronted with these stories of Jesus defending himself say that he turned into smoke and passed ‘through the midst of the crowd’.  Others have suggested other mystical or magical methods and to be honest, if I could teach my students how to turn into smoke, vapor, or anything else, to help them protect themselves, I would.

          But all I can do is teach them Kempo, the most effective form of self defense I know.  Jesus walked around the Middle East, he didn’t fly.  Jesus ate food, drank, and did other things in a normal fashion.  Yes he did miracles, but he also did most things just like you and I.

          Jesus loved deeply which is what we should do.  But Jesus did defend himself until the ‘fullness of time’ at which point he made himself a sacrifice for our sakes.

 

LIFE AND DEATH

          Imagine how I felt as a child of fourteen being told by a peer that he wanted to kill me.  There were disagreements and they didn’t like me carrying my Bible to school, but there was nothing that should have brought us to a point where someone wanted to kill me.

          I trained in the martial arts wanting only to defend myself.  I never went back after those who threatened me, now having seen them at high school reunions, I love them and realized that they were part of my spiritual journey.

          The martial arts empowered me and allowed me to go places and do things that I thought I would never do.  I’ve always felt God led me to the martial arts and taught me the ways of peace through His Holy Spirit.

          Kempo is about life and death.  It is how to live life fully and manifest the spirit of God in daily life.  What I teach in Kiyojute Ryu Kempo is a peaceful, loving way of life that allows people to have the skills to protect themselves while never wanting to be violent.

          There is no competition, no pseudo violence of any type.  The training is good solid self defense training.  Peaceful intent is always emphasized with love in our hearts for all, including anyone who might attack us.  We will defend, but we will never hate.

          Kiyojute means ‘spiritually positive, gentle person’, what I feel is the perfect description of Jesus and the statement of the kind of person all of us should become.  Those who practice Kiyojute Ryu Kempo are trying to become martial artists who are spiritually positive and gentle.

          I teach the martial arts because I believe that God wants good people to defend themselves.  I teach because I believe that Jesus set the example even in this for us.  I teach to try and become a ‘spiritually positive, gentle person’ and to help others achieve that same goal.



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