Discussing anything that has religion attached to it today is considered politically incorrect or taboo. This article will raise some eyebrows and probably some body temperatures because it deals directly with people who attach Karate to Christ or the Christian religion. First off it is important to know that I am a Christian and I do believe in the Holy Trinity as well as have very strong faith in my Lord and Savior.
There are some martial art schools out there who proclaim to teach “Christian” Karate or attach themselves to organizations that promote the same. In the 1990’s I was approached by a certain Christian Karate organization to join their ranks. Even though my dojo would attend their tournaments I politely told them no. There were many reasons behind this but none more than the fact it was a money maker for them above all other reasons they created their organization. Today I see hundreds of these types of groups out there and even more “Christian” Karate schools opening. While I don’t have a problem with anyone who is a Christian and teaching Karate I do have a problem when people proclaim to teach “Christian Karate”.
One fact to remember is that there is no religion in Karate. This doesn’t mean Karate classes are void of religion but rather that anyone, from any religion or even those who have none, are welcomed to train. Karate training is personal to the people who study it. What matters the most is the quality of instructor, the authenticity of the system being taught and the professionalism of the dojo. If a person chooses not to train under a highly qualified instructor because of religious purposes that is fine but they are missing out on great training that does matter. When it comes to the majority of places that proclaim to teach Christian Karate they are often teaching something that is made up.
If a person chooses to teach an authentic system of Karate and do so in a Christian manner that is great…sadly many of the systems I have seen are made up with Kata named after Bible verses or other things that have no true martial art value. I have met many instructors who proclaim to teach “Christian Karate”. Most of them are teaching some made of form of martial art that they “created” even though they had no qualifications to even do so. That is fraud but they will argue til they are blue in the face they have the right because they were inspired by “God”. I am sure, in their mind, they were but having only 10, 15 or 20 years of training in and then making up some system that conforms to a Christian theme is fraud. There is no reason to make something up, just teach authentic Karate and attach Bible study to it if you want to truly promote God and Christianity. The main reason many of these people have done this is they aren’t qualified to do anything else.
In one Christian organization out there the founders are all self promoted 10th degrees. This means they all got together one day and promoted each other to Grand Master. Then they hand out rank certificates like candy to anyone who can afford to pay for them. To authentic martial arts instructors that is a scam and fraudulent practices to say the least.
One Christian Karate school I know of teaches a completely fabricated system that was founded by a low level black belt who has been in trouble with the law over and over again. He created his own sport based martial arts system in the 90’s and promoted himself to Master rank, then reached out to a Christian association who promoted him to Grand Master…all while he had never earned any rank higher than 1st degree black belt. This all took place in a matter of a few years. He wanted to be the next Bruce Lee so he mixed this with that but had no master rank in any of the systems he proclaims to be an expert in. He dabbled and mixed which leads to the phrase “jack of all trades, Master of none”. Eventually he began calling his system Tae Kwon Do but it has no bearing or aspects of Tae Kwon Do in it all.
Another example of fraud is a school that taught “Christian Karate” but the instructor was using it to make money and his personality was that of a drunk, pot smoking and abusive instructor. His school didn’t last long but imagine all those students who got hurt when they discovered the truth about him.
As I stated earlier I am a Christian and I teach Karate but I don’t, and won’t ever, proclaim to teach Christian Karate because it doesn’t exist and can’t. It is important to understand that people who teach Karate are human. They fail, they sin, they make mistakes. We all do but many of us don’t proclaim to preach Karate, we just teach it. Our goal is to be our best but we often fail, as many do, however we learn from our mistakes and move forward the best we can. I have met many Christian Karate teachers who were not good Christians too. Several of the ones I have met don’t even go to Church on a regular basis.
In closing it is important that parents, and adults, looking for martial arts training be smart enough not to fall for the Christian Karate fraud out there. When you are looking at a school and it claims to teach Christian Karate makes sure it is an authentic form of Karate being taught by a certified and qualified instructor who simply leads his class as a Christian. Authentic forms of Karate are easy to find if you just do some research. Goju Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Shotokan, Chito Ryu, Shito Ryu, Isshin Ryu are just a few of them. Chances are if it is called American Karate it is not an authentic system at all. If it is called Tae Kwon Do but none of the forms you are learning look like the ones you can easily find on Youtube then you are being scammed.
Now that I have wrote a blog post that I am sure will ruffle some feathers it is also important to note that if you are a teacher of Karate reading this and get upset it is because you are one of the ones teaching a made up system and using God to make money doing so. I would suggest you examine what you are doing deeply so you can truly teach your students something of value instead of something you value. I believe in Christ and I teach Karate but I will teach anyone who wants to learn and don’t allow religion to be in my dojo because that is not what a dojo is for. Sure my Christian principles come through when I am teaching and yes I will pray in front of my students and others but I will never proclaim to teach Christian Karate because it, in fact, doesn’t exist.
Every year I get asked to join some great Christian Karate association and each time I politely refuse. I am already a member of a great, world wide, authentic Karate association and I am Christian doing what God called me to do. I don’t need to join a labeled group to do so. Quality Karate comes from teaching authentic Karate, not from making it up when you are not qualified to do so because you lacked the discipline to truly train and master a system. Train hard my friends and train wise.