A Place for Christian Martial Artists

Styles

The GMAU is not style-specific, meaning practitioners of any style or system are welcome. We have members from many different backgrounds including Judo, Okinawan and Japanese Karate styles, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Pankration and even Western-style fencing.

TRADITIONAL VS. MODERN

There is current debate in the martial arts world over what constitutes a modern (some might say sport-oriented) style verses a traditional system. Is Taekwondo, for example, a modern style (the name was formulated in 1955) or does it, as some Taekwondoists suggest, harken back to the first centuries after Christ and the Silla Dynasty? What about Karate? Although ancient styles known as “te” existed in Okinawa, Karate, at least the Japanese systems, were only devised in the early 20th century. Aikido was founded in 1922; Kenpo (the original Japanese version, not the American one) was started in 1922; even Judo was formulated in the 1880s.

But for our discussion, it is important to understand the philosophical underpinnings of any art as well as the technical aspects and the historicity of its lineage. Certainly the Asian systems are the first things most people think of when they imagine the traditional arts. But, as we just pointed out, many of the Asian arts are actually quite modern.  In light of our desire to study and practice Christian martial arts, we need to examine whether or not their underlying philosophy reflects a religious or a non-religious approach.

Let’s see what some respected martial scholars have to say on that subject.

“The spiritual aspects often associated with the martial arts were added in modern times and were not an intrinsic part of the ancient warriors practice.”

—Donn Drager, famed martial historian (1922–1982), Modern Bujutsu & Budo: Martial Arts And Ways Of Japan, Vol III., (Weatherhill, 1974)

“The martial arts are methods of personal combat; they aren’t religious rites. Even those arts that originated in temples were developed more for military or paramilitary reasons. Of course Asian warriors were often religious, just as the European knights were, but the combative systems they practiced were no more parts of their religious systems than is Western fencing a part of Roman Catholicism.”

—Forest Morgan, military historian and U. S. Air Force officer, Living the Martial Way, (Barricade Books, 1992)

What this tells us is that the traditional martial arts (even those of Asian origins) are not intrinsically Zen or Taoist at their foundational core. Of course, those trappings can be, and often are, added to the practice of Karate, Judo, Arnis or whatever art you care to name. This is where the Christian needs to be discerning.

But whether you practice a modern style, from Taekwondo to MMA, or a older style, say Tai Chi or Kobudo, it is our belief that you can train and practice unto the Lord. No one style is better than the other. As Gichin Funakoshi, the Father of Karate, said, “the art does not make the man, the man makes the art.”

We welcome and encourage new members from all styles of the martial arts, from the traditional to the modern, from the Asian to the European, and from New York to California.

PANKRATION

The style taught in the Indiana GMAU Academies is focused on Pachivas Pankration, a lesser known art, and therefore a background is in order.

The word PANKRATION is a Greek word which translated means “all powers - all strength.” The Pankration was a sporting event in the ancient Greek Olympic games that was first introduced in 648 BC. The rules of the sport were simple, no biting or eye gouging and victory was secured through knockout, submission or death. The historical records of the early Pankration are shrouded and mixed with Greek mythology. History is unclear as to whether or not these accounts of championship bouts and feats of strength of the champions were myth or actual accounts. What is known is that just like the boxers and wrestlers of the Olympic games the Pankration competitors refined their skills for many generations through hundreds of years. The athletes became extremely proficient at all elements of their sport, including ground fighting and submission holds, to standing fighting with all types of strikes. Many of the holds, throws and striking techniques can be seen on the pottery, statues and drawings of those times.

ANCIENT PANKRATION—MODERN PANKRATION—PACHIVAS PANKRATION

Pachivas Pankration was designed by John Pachivas to evaluate, challenge and cultivate the martial artist’s skill in throwing, break-falling, sweeping, reaping, joint-locking, pressure-point manipulation, choke holds, striking, and kicking. A skillful Pachivas Pankration stylist ultimately becomes a master in the five anatomical areas: the Muscular System, Central Nervous System, Circulatory System, Respiratory System, and Skeletal System.