Saturday, February 25, 2012

a martial artists reaction to entertainment

The month or so ago I was helping a high school wrestling team train. We were going over moves, I started thinking about the world of sports entertainment. Many of the moves that you see in WWE are not legitamite moves, but instead they are exaggerations of what we see in armature wrestling. The real holds are less flashy or even barely visible.
Then I watched a jean Claude van dam movie. Honestly jean Claude looks less like a kick boxer and more like a ballerina!
Many martial artists get angry at the mention of sports entertainment.
They say "that's fake!" or "I could take him"

They feel as if they have had their fighting religions blasphemed!
But I feel that they have missed the old motto.
"imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
any good salesman has to be use exaggeration to sell the product.
To advance any martial art, you wantto have more practitioners to make more competition.
and keep some teachers employed.
A former master instructor of mine remarked how sales would go up when movies like "the karate kid" or "tmnt" were popular.

For instance amature wrestling and even old pro-wrestling was way to Hard on Hulk Hogan for bringing theatrics to the squared circle. I think making the disconnect hurt the real sport from advancing.
Honestly I was a little "hulkamaniac" and yes that did inspire me to take up amature wrestling.

I think Kung fu people have been smart not to be critical of wushu and jackie chan. You need good advertisement.

This works in other areas too. like video rock and rollers with classical music. Rocky with boxing and the harlem globe trotters with basketball.

Every great cowboy needs a rodeo clown!

A christian understanding of chi

One issue of controversy for christians in martial arts specifically eastern martials arts is the concept of chi or ki. These martial arts based in zen Buddhist philosophy do not limited their art ot the physical realm but also include mystical or esoteric concepts.

So what is chi?(qui,ki)

"In traditional Chinese culture, qì (also chi or ch'i) is an active principle forming part of any living thing.[1][2][3] Qi is frequently translated as life energy, lifeforce, or energy flow. Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts. The literal translation of "qi" is breath, air, or gas." wikipedia "Qui"

After first researching this concept, a lightbulb went off in my head.

"Pneuma (πνεύμα) is an ancient Greek word for "breath," and in a religious context for "spirit" or "soul." It has various technical meanings for medical writers and philosophers of classical antiquity, particularly in regard to physiology, and is also used in Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible and in the Greek New Testament. In classical philosophy, it is distinguishable from psyche (ψυχή), which originally meant "breath of life", but is regularly translated as "spirit" or most often "soul".[1] wikipedia "pneuma"

spirt, energy, breath. These concepts are basically the same!
So can the Bible use the word spirit in terms of energy?

Joshua 5:1And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.
Here we spirit being used in the sense a depression or lack of energy.

Judges 15:19But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof Enhakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day.
What is interesting about this verse is that Samsons life force/spirit is being renewed after a battle where the Holy Spirit empowered him to Kill
a thousand men with the jawbone of a mule.

2 Kings 2:9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

This a rather bizarre section. Because Elisha is asking for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. This sounds pantheistic. However the context shows the he is talking about inheritance. He gave up his inheritance in order to inherit Elijah's announcing. But basically Elisha ia asking for a double portion of his anointing. Elijah had a powerful quality to his spirit that Elisha stood to obtain.

Now this topic can split off into two other future topics. So I won't cover these points exhaustively.

First, is the fact that eastern philosophy(pantheism) is not incorrect as to the existence of chi, the Problem is that the east fails to understand God.

The confusion of God and nature is the source of pagan idolotry. The true God of the Bible is Holy, which means set apart. He transcends the universe.
But eastern mystics assume that the universe is god. God is worthy of glory honor worship and praise. It if it is not going to him as a person, then where is it going?
I have notticed some yoga instructors talk about taking in god as they breath. So idolatry is being conducted as they are building up their chi!
This is spiritually hazardous because idolatry can lead to the demonic.

Deuteronomy 32:17
17They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not

So this is indeed spiritually dangerous. But I find a situation very similar to Paul in His meat sacrificed before idols discourse.

1 corinthians 8:1Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
2And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
4As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
5For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
6But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

So I don't have to resort to the errors of pantheism in order to take advantage of the truths regarding KI/chi

Now later in the passage Paul does warn about causing others to stumble with our knowledge. Should you as an instructer encourage non-christians to meditate in a zen buddhist fashion, just because you will not be commiting idolatry personally? That would not be wise. But if you know that the group you are in is christian and understands what you are doing, or you are alone there is no harm in it.
One apologist put it best,"It's not like they invented breathing!"

The second point is that the Bible tells us more about the human spirit. The human spirit is described more in terms of psychology and morality. When we build up our spirits we may want to put more emphases as martial artist upon our moral states as well. it is also good to meditate upon the gospels so that by finding the peace which passes all understanding we will be prepared for anything.

In Christ,


art, sport, science what?

I think a key issue in the conversation that we have been missing, at least in the mainstream is proper definitions.

What is a martial art?

I define it in the looses terms imaginable. where it is the practice of anything military in nature as a discipline. lets look at a dictionary.

mar·tial   /ˈmɑrʃəl/ Show Spelled[mahr-shuhl] Show IPA
1. inclined or disposed to war; warlike: The ancient Romans were a martial people.
2. of, suitable for, or associated with war or the armed forces: martial music.
3. characteristic of or befitting a warrior: a martial stride.

art1    /ɑrt/ Show Spelled[ahrt] Show IPA
1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
2. the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection.
3. a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.
4. the fine arts collectively, often excluding architecture: art and architecture.
5. any field using the skills or techniques of art: advertising art; industrial art.

I think we could could combine martial with the 3rd definition and art with definition 1 and 3. fusing them int this...

An expression of warlike principles made appealing and benefitting the warrior with more than ordinary significance.
What about sports?

sport   /spɔrt, spoʊrt/ Show Spelled[spawrt, spohrt] Show IPA
1. an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.
2. a particular form of this, especially in the out of doors.
3. diversion; recreation; pleasant pastime.
4. jest; fun; mirth; pleasantry: What he said in sport was taken seriously.
5. mockery; ridicule; derision: They made sport of him.

Basically I think it is obvious that the first definition is the subject.
I also find it consistent that a sport may be an expression of war like principles. These two concepts (sports and martial arts are can be the same and not the same)

They are the same when the expression of warlike principles is an atheletic activity. But if they are independent of this then they are not.

Some martial artists restrict the idea to hand to hand combat, or killing, or even restrict it to those who include eastern mysticism.

But I think this is a consistent meaning for martial arts.
For instance I understand american football to be a martial arts sport. many martial artist would laught at this. Yet they would revear bushido, which understands sitting down with a gigantic long bo as a martial art. As if we always have such a long bow and they would be ready if one of the new york Giants was attacking them from the side! LOL

Football should be defined as a matial arts sport because it primarily teaches you military skills in working with a team. secondly it teaches you fighting skills with a helmut and gives you some limited hand to hand techniques. Not to mention that the training prepares you for a fight.

But what of science?
sci·ence   /ˈsaɪəns/ Show Spelled[sahy-uhns] Show IPA
1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.
4. systematized knowledge in general.
5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.

A lot of modern military groups like to think of their figting systems as a science. and of course muhammad ali would refer to boxing as a sweet science.
Science definitely has plenty of use in martial arts. basic priniciples of kinesthesiology and biology are of great use, as well as physics.

The difficulty with defining martial arts actually as a science in itself is the fact there is no truly solid empirical data. Fighting is an extremely subjective thing. If it could be a science it would be a very soft science. When you deal with fighting you have different environments, different attackers, different weapons, different defenders, different social circumstances. It is incredibly subjective and you can not ground very much in universal fact.

The best you can hope for is philosophical principles. Of course theology interacts with philosophy and so that's why I feel this blog should have some success! ;)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

a lil about myself

Hi my name is Matt Singleton

I am a Christian martial artist.
I am ordained minister with 2 theological degrees.
my martial arts back ground
A. I have a 1st degree black belt in tae kwon do. I have won first and second place in various sparring tournaments.
B. I am an accomplished amature wrestler. As a high school wrestler I won several tournaments in light heavyweight and heavyweight classes. I also helped train wrestlers in 3 different high schools.
C. I have a few years training in submission wrestling/mma. strictly practice. Yet I have been able to tap out several opponents from backgrounds such as brazillian jujitsu, ninjitsu, Lion's den, judo etc.
D. I also have some experience in tai chi, 5 animal shaolin kung fu, monkey style kung fu, kempo.
E. I have borrwed some techniques and studied a vast array of other arts. ( extensive library)

So in this blog I want to write my views on martial arts as well as add some insights into the worldview, philosophy and ethics of today's fighter. Feel free to comment!