Friday, 8 January 2010

A Kung Fu - Christian Convert's ideas on Martial Arts

Shane D'Souza was barely recognisable. The guards scrapped him off the cell floor and laid his mangled body on a dirty stretcher... We all knew who was guilty of the assault on the young Sri Lankan. No one said a word. The authorities didn't care.... there'd be no inquiry, no punishment for the attacker. No justice for my friend... When I saw what had happened, it triggered a dark and dangerous rage inside of me. Alcaponey was a nasty piece of work. No one knew his real name. He was one of the mentally deranged, the criminally insane...

On the day Shane was brutalised, I vowed his vengance would be mine. Alcaponey was a good foot taller than me. He pushed weights and his arms were as thick as my thighs, but I knew I could have him. I knew I could kill him with my bare hands and make him suffer for every blow, every stinking sordid deed, every drop of Shane's blood...

I was a world class Kung Fu champion, with skills to burst him open and break him into a million pieces...

Suddenly I was slammed against the wall as Alcaponey's screech echoed round the dark, desolate corridor. I was angry at myself for being caught off guard , but... at last my time with the demon had finally come...

I wanted his blood. I'd easily take his eye, before ripping off his ear with my teeth. Fury boiled within me, but suddenly there was something else. In the heat of those split seconds I was strangely aware of a much deeper battle raging... It was as though some kind of new consciousness was weakening the ingrained instincts that made me the combat fighter I was. As I fought to focus my attention on Alcaponey's ear, I had an image in my head from something I had read only that morning. A man unjustly arrested, his friend defending him, cutting off the ear of the servant of his accuser... "... all who draw the sword, die by the sword..."
[Tony Anthony, Taming the Tiger, p9-12]
Tony is a man bred and raised in the way of Kung Fu - taken to his grandfather's home in rural China when he was 4, he is probably the world's most skilled Martial Arts expert . After rebelling against his disciplined lifestyle he found himself in prison in Cyprus where he received Christ through a prison ministry.

Suddenly, words formed in my mouth. I heard myself speak. My terror was gone. My lust for Alcaponey's blood evaporated as I spoke. I was suddenly calm, yet as shocked as the brute by the power of my utterance:

'In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to leave me alone.'
[Tony Anthony, Taming the Tiger, p167]

Alcaponey, though only speaking Greek, reacts to this proclamation in English and runs away screaming. Tony realises that God had moved in a miraculous way, protecting him when he had not even specifically asked it, when for the most part he was confident that he could have handled the situation in his own strength.

Walking slowly back towards the main block... As I reached my cell I gazed again at the shape of the cross, formed by the window bars. 'I am the way the truth and the life...' I feasted on the words and knew that it had not been the Ch'i or martial arts that had saved me. It had been Jesus and my God-given faith that shielded me from clear and present danger. It was my first, scariest, most powerful lesson in faith. I knew it was time to fully turn my back on the way of Kung Fu and put my trust firmly in the hands of God.
[Tony Anthony, Taming the Tiger, p168]

More trials face Tony during the rest of his book, but from this point Martial Arts does not play a part, he succeeds in trusting in God's strength not his own.

A final thought on this by Tony challenged me and helped me come to the decision not to seek a martial arts physical routine recently...

From that incredible day when God demostrated his power as I wrestled with Alcaponey, I have always discouraged people from pursuing any form of martial art. In the West it is mainly taught for fitness and self-defence, but it is rooted in spirituality that I believe is misleading and dangerous. The 'way' of Kung Fu is a very different path to the true way of Christ. It is a way that builds false confidence in self. Martial arts appeal to a person's fears, weaknesses and ego. Christ's way is to release a person into new life, freedom and security through, and in, him.
[Tony Anthony, Taming the Tiger, p197]

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