A Place for Christian Martial Artists

Handbook

GMAU MEMBER HANDBOOK

I. Purpose

The Gospel Martial Arts Union (GMAU) exists for the sole purpose of enabling Christian martial artists to associate themselves with a truly Christian martial arts organization. While we don’t think there is inherently anything wrong with secular organizations, our purpose is to enable our members to associate, grow and flourish in an organization without being unequally yoked with unbelievers and unbelieving philosophies.

II. Goals

The Gospel Martial Arts Union exists to:

• Provide tools, techniques, and curriculum to aid instructors in teaching the martial arts from a Christian perspective.

• Sponsor seminars, clinics and workshops for Christian martial artists.

• Charter martial arts schools, and provide operational standards.

• Improve the academic level of the martial arts through establishing martial arts publication standards, the publishing of books and booklets, the publishing of a regular newsletter, and supporting a University program offering academic degrees in the martial arts philosophy from a Christian perspective.

• Develop and support truly Christian martial art systems.

• Provide belt rank certification in Christian Martial Arts Systems.

• Provide instructor certification.

III. Organizational Focus

The GMAU believes that like the other arts (music, visual, dance, theatre) the martial arts have a righteous purpose. The three primary purposes for the Christian martial arts are self-defense, moral education and the development of self-discipline.

We believe that in our world today, there is a real need for self-defense. Due to the sin of people, the peace that originally existed in God’s creation has been perverted, and as a result our society is in decay, with people committing violent acts against each other. Many people live in fear, and there is a true need in our communities to learn how to protect ourselves. Many people turn to secular martial arts to help them overcome their fears. Missing, however, is teaching on the only true way to protect your life in an eternal sense. This comes through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior. The Christian martial arts meets the needs of the whole person, enabling us to defend our physical self and teaching us the only way our spiritual self can be saved — through the grace of Jesus Christ.

While, self-defense is a righteous action, this knowledge can be twisted by the depravity of our hearts into a motive for personal vengeance and violence. The desire to get even is one of the ugliest human emotions for which no justification can be given. This is the basis for the second purpose of the Christian marital arts — moral education. The Christian’s response to personal attacks should be to avoid all internal bitterness and external retaliation. The only way this can be achieved is through the development of Christ-like character. This results in knowing right from wrong, and more importantly, forming habits of right action — virtues. Integral to the Christian martial arts is this development of righteous living, as taught in the Bible.

In the martial arts, as in the other arts, the focus is on the pursuit of excellence. The goal is never realized, and the artist continues to find new ways of expression and higher levels of perfection. Likewise, character is something that we can never attain perfectly (except through Christ). Yet the purpose of holy living is to keep striving to be like our master, Jesus Christ. Holy living is achieved through a pure heart (spiritual), a discerning mind (mental), and a disciplined body (physical).

The pure heart (often referred to as one’s conscience) is the core of righteousness. Here, the truth is known and there is no conflict of loyalty, no cleavage of interest, no mixture of motives, no hypocrisy, and no insincerity. The pure heart is in harmony with our Creator, who is holy and righteous. It is only possible to obtain a pure heart by inviting Jesus Christ into our heart, accepting Him as savior. A discerning mind is the action of keeping our "being," particularly our will, in line with the source of purity in our heart — Jesus Christ. We must distinguish and choose what is true, or appropriate or excellent. A discerning mind, also referred to as wisdom, is the key to all understanding. Proverbs 4:9 says, "Get wisdom, get understanding." Discernment reveals insight and understanding from God’s Word, and His creation. And it keeps our God-given creative nature in line with the Creator’s physical and moral laws.

A disciplined body is a body that strives to control its sinful nature, keeping its action in line with the source of purity in our heart — Jesus Christ. As Christians our body is a temple and God’s Spirit lives in us (I Cor. 6:19). Because of Christ’s perfection, if He is within our hearts we are also perfect in that He covers our impurity. However, our minds and bodies are still sinful in their nature. Hence, the goal of a Christian should be to please our Savior, who lives in our hearts, by striving to bring His temple, our body and mind, in line with His purity. In the Christian martial arts the body is trained and developed by instruction and exercise, resulting in physical and mental self-discipline — the purpose of the Christian Martial Arts.

IV. Historical Views of the Martial Arts

We believe that Christians can study the martial arts and can do so in holiness as unto the Lord. We do, however, recognize the strong occult powers entrenched in some Asian practice and academies. We also understand that martial practices predate the oriental martial arts and our goal is to reclaim the martial arts for God.

It is commonly held by scholars of the martial arts that the arts were likely formalized as early as the Chou Dynasty in China (1122-250 BC). However, the GMAU takes the position that "martial" practices existed long before this period. It is recorded in the paintings and inscriptions of Egyptian tombs that fighting arts were being practiced in Egypt as early as 3000 BC. Likewise, the Old Testament, and other documents of the time, indicate that there were fighting arts practiced in Mesopotamia and the surrounding area (3000 to 2000 BC). India and Pakistan also have an ancient history of martial arts such as yuddha, niyuddha and marma-adi. In fact, it is virtually impossible to trace the history of martial arts back to a single origin. Yet, based on a Christian world-view of Earth’s history (God as the creator of all things) it is possible to theorize a likely development.

The Christian world-view of self-defense is based on the fact that when humankind (Adam & Eve) sinned, the whole of God’s creation was perverted, becoming sinful at the heart of its nature. The peace between God’s creation began to decay — animals began to prey upon one other, thorns and thistles began to become part of the flora and the Earth became a dangerous place. As the human race began to reproduce, differences of opinion, greed, and anger, arose and led to fighting, and eventually to warfare. Unlike the flora and the fauna, humans have virtually no natural protection from the dangers of an evil world. People, therefore, used their intellect, which God had given to them only, to develop means of self-protection.

On the most basic level, people likely protected themselves by merely swinging a stick at a danger. However, it is fair to assume (based on our own understanding of human nature) that through trial and error people quickly learned what worked best and what didn’t. It is also fair to assume (on the same basis) that some individuals were better at self-preservation than others, and that these individuals likely began to teach their families, friends and community. It is upon this fundamental basis that Christian martial artists believe the martial arts (organized systems of self-defense) were first brought into being.

While this historical perspective is a useful theory for scholarship, the real significance is not in the history of "martial" practices, but in terms of the history of "martial" philosophy. God is the standard for everything we do, including the martial arts, and He predates all histories. Hence, the GMAU takes the position that, although offering many parallels to Christianity, the Asian philosophy is a counterfeit of the original "righteous way" of God. This counterfeit is a dangerous trap, set by the enemy of Christ’s Church — Satan. God in His Word has made it very clear that Christians are not to "learn the way of the heathen." Hence, the GMAU and its members are to practice martial arts in accordance with God’s standard, the Bible.

The GMAU believes that self-defense is something that God necessarily allowed in His Creation because of sin. The God who put quills in the porcupine, smell in the skunk, and venom in the viper, caused David to say, "Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight." (Psalms 144:1) However, there is most certainly a right way, and a wrong way. The Christian martial arts are not just about physical self-defence, but about spiritual graces and character such as, "A wise man is mightier than a strong man. Wisdom is mightier than strength." (Prov. 24:5), and "A soft tongue can break hard bones." (Prov. 25:15).

V. The Inerrant Scriptures

We believe that the Holy Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God, written inerrant in its original languages by Holy men. (2 Pet. 1:21).

This is the clear affirmation of the Bible in II Timothy 3:16-17. Inspiration extends fully to the whole of the Old and New Testament Scripture (plenary inspiration) and to the very words of Scripture (verbal inspiration). That statement also properly ties together the inspiration and the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Biblical inerrancy is a necessary corollary and by-product of divine inspiration. Biblical inerrancy extends to matters of science, history, and the doctrinal teachings of Scripture.

A third concept presented by this statement is the truth that God used "holy men" to put His revelation into written form. Peter asserts that these "holy men" were moved by the Holy Spirit. This supernatural work guaranteed the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures.

Finally, that statement indicates that, technically, inspiration and inerrancy apply only to the original languages or autographs of the Scripture. Only the human authors were "moved" by the Holy Spirit. There is no guarantee from Scripture that copyists and translators of the Scriptures will do their work infallibly. Versions and translations of Scripture do not possess the same inspired quality as the original autographs. It is our conviction, however, that accurate translations of accurate copies have a derivative inspiration because of their identification with the autographs.

Since the church does not possess the originally inspired autographs, does this mean that we do not have the Word of God today? Not at all! The Bible clearly presents the fact that God has providentially preserved His Word. He has preserved His words, His truths, and His doctrines.

Much of the Bible “version” debate today centers on the nature of the divine preservation of the Scriptures. Has God perfectly preserved His Word in a single manuscript or version? If so, which one? Or has God preserved His Word in the mass of ancient manuscripts? It is our conviction that the text of Scripture has been preserved in all the ancient manuscripts but perfectly preserved in no single manuscript.

By the exacting science of textual criticism, the modern scholar has pored over the ancient manuscripts and delivered to us printed editions of both Testaments that reflect with a very high degree of certainty the precise words of the original manuscripts. In turn, faithful servants of God have translated these printed editions into scores of languages around the world. While no printed editions in the original languages, nor translations in different languages, have the quality of direct divine inspiration, these works are authoritative and trustworthy when produced by honest scholars.

We honor and respect the King James Version. It is our primary version for use in teaching and Bible memory work. We regard it as a trustworthy translation that bears all the marks of orthodoxy. We appreciate the beauty of its language. We are not, however, "King James only" in our position. We are convinced that, because of the diligent study of the original languages and the discoveries of archaeologists in the last 350 years, contemporary scholars are able to translate the Scriptures with a high degree of precision. Some of the modern versions make a valuable contribution to our understanding of God's revelation.

It is our conviction that one's position on the biblical text need not be made a basis for fellowship among Bible believers. Men who truly love the Lord and truly contend for the Scriptures and the fundamentals of the faith can be found on both sides of the version debate. Both can and should work together in serving God and building the local church.

To sum up, the GMAU holds a high view of the origin and importance of the Scriptures. We believe that the textual debate is a difference of opinion about God's means of the preservation of His Word. We encourage the use of the KJV for teaching and Bible memory work. However, we also acknowledge the individual liberty of every believer to use whatever translation or version he or she chooses for personal study and devotional life. We believe that a “literal” translation should be used for study (for example, the KJV, NASB, NKJV, ESV), however "dynamic” translations (NIV) and paraphrases (NLT, The Message) can be used very effectively for devotional purposes.

VI. Membership Expectations

Membership is open to Christian martial artists in any style or system. All candidates for Full Membership must complete an application indicating agreement with our doctrinal position. We would also expect all members to be members of a theologically sound church where they actively serve. Additionally, all members are expected to portray a high standard of excellence in keeping with their standing in Christ. This should be reflected in technique, knowledge and lifestyle. We, as the members of the GMAU, must daily live as a Christians first, and martial artists second. Unity on this concept is the strength of the GMAU, as it has three consequences:

The medium (martial arts) is not the message. We as Christians cannot let ourselves be divided over differences of style, both in martial arts and ministry. There is no one best style of marital arts, each has its strengths and weaknesses. Likewise, there is no one best style of glorifying God through the medium of the martial arts. Hence, the style of another member’s marital arts ministry should not hinder our interpretation of the truth contained therein.

The Bible is the standard, not martial arts traditions. Things like bowing to a god shelf or emptying one’s mind are obvious examples that have no place in the life of a Christian. However, there are also less explicit areas where we must exercise discernment, so as to avoid causing weaker Christians to stumble (I Corinthians 8). We as Christian martial artists must be careful that our use of martial arts traditions do not cause our weaker brothers and sisters to fall. It is not a question of a correct biblical knowledge, but rather a matter of how we present Christ in our martial arts. Remember, "stumbling blocks" are things we should not ignore, but rather actively seek out. As Paul said, "When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ." We must continually keep this point in prayer.

Christian martial artists must be accountable to the church. Because the human heart is basically evil (Jer. 17:9-10), left to our own, we will tend to go astray. We must all place ourselves under spiritual authority. The GMAU believes that the local church is God’s ordained institution for this age. Thus, the GMAU and its members must place themselves under the umbrella and authority of a local church.

The last expectation of our members is active participation in furthering the Christian martial arts for Christ. We wish to establish a truly Christian martial arts standard and philosophy. Therefore, we will call upon our membership black belts to write articles to be made available to the martial arts world concerning a Christian philosophy and practice of martial arts.

VII. Doctrinal Position          

THE TRINITY
We believe in the existence of the Triune Godhead; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, equal in power and glory, yet one in being.

JESUS CHRIST
We believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnate virgin-born, sinless Son of God, and His shed blood is the only atonement for sin. We believe in the bodily return of Jesus Christ to this earth.

FALLEN MAN
We believe in the natural depravity of the human heart, because of the sin of Adam and subsequent fall of man, and the need of each person to be changed through the new birth.

SALVATION BY FAITH
We believe in salvation through personal faith in Christ and the regeneration of man by the Holy Spirit. We believe that the born-again child of God is to live a holy life, separated from the things of this world which would hinder his spiritual life and his testimony before others.

THE BIBLE
We believe in the verbal-plenary inspiration of the Old and New Testaments, as the actual Word of God; that they constitute the final authority for faith and practice for the Christian.

THE CHURCH
We believe that the church is the body of truly born-again believers. We believe that every born-again Saint is commanded to be an active participating member of such a local church.