There are many kinds of people who practice martial arts: young and old, athletic and not so athletic, educated and uneducated. Some are chasing rank, their eyes are fixed on the color of the belt. Some just want to fight. Some want to compete and win. Some simply enjoy the physical activity and hanging out with friends. You see these kinds of people in all levels and all styles of martial arts.
Zero in for a minute on long term martial artists; the old guys who have been doing this for 20, 30, even 50 or more years. You still see the attitudes above, but there is something more as well. What you do changes from day to day, week to week, year to year. Jobs change, families change, activities change, desires and passions change. But there is something different about what these people are doing. Their lives have changed through the years, but day after day you find them in the dojo, teaching and training. Why? Why has this part of their lives not changed?
These people “are” Martial Artists. They don’t simply “do” martial arts; it is not just an activity or just a job for them. It is part of who they are; it is part of what defines them. The martial arts that they do flows out of the Martial Artist that they are.
Over the last few weeks I have thought a lot about this great philosophical question of “Who am I?” Why do I do what I do? A non-marital artist commented that she had no idea karate testing would be so hard and so intense. Why do I subject myself to testing, to getting yelled at and beaten on? The bruises, stress, injuries, and emotions – in short, the blood, sweat and tears – that led up to that moment of testing are not even measurable. Why do I put myself through that? It is because of who I am.
Over the years I have seen that my martial arts journey parallels my spiritual life. My physical struggles in the dojo are pictures of my spiritual struggles in life. As I asked myself this question about martial arts, I found God asked me the same question about Himself.
You can live the life of a Christian because your family or friends expect you to, or because it makes you feel good, but eventually that will not be enough. It is not easy to be a Christian. The political world of today is against Christians. The media portrays Christians as stupid and weak. The social world of today does not want the morals of God to rule them. Sometimes I don’t want Christian morals myself… it would be so much easier to sleep in and not go to church, so much easier to not teach VBS or Sunday School, so much easier to not control anger or lust, so much easier to forsake my duties as a wife or parent and go do what I want to do instead. In some places being a Christian can even cost you your job, your family, or your life.
At some point being a Christian will become hard. The test will come. Will you stop doing the things a Christian does? Will you move on to some other activity that interests you more or costs you less? When God doesn’t give you what you want, will you go do something else?
Who are you?
Why do you do what you do?
Don’t just “do” Christianity, “be” Christianity.
What you do must flow out of who you are.
Rebecca A Givens, 05/2009