What is Jesus view on martial arts?

Hi-ya! Ever since I was eight years old after seeing how practical it can be, I always wanted to take up some form of martial arts. At the time I probably knew the names of about six disciplines or so. That is how interested I was. Sadly, for some reason or other it didn’t really lift of. And what if the reason turned out to be Jesus? (Matt 5:39)

Would participating in any “art” -I may have considered- any art which put one in the position to defend oneself against another be undoing the command; “to turn the other cheek”? And hence be against God’s will for we who believe in His Son? Thus were the thoughts that I started to develop as the time for me to join any martial art lingered, and I was taking Biblical standpoints more seriously. (I have found that here is no sitting on the fence waiting to see what happens with one’s life). In the end the furthest I got to attend anything of the sort was an opening day for Wing-Chun at some Greenwich community centre six years ago.

Up until now this may sound like a simple polarised argument that perhaps paints the picture for or against marital arts/ self defence in black and white, but consider this; in martial arts training the student is made to practise moves that anticipate violent attacks. The student is made to practise moves that can save his life or take another’s. And from practise will come reliance, and what did the Bible say of relying on one’s strength of their own arm (physical force)?

Just look to the A-Z of martial art dojo’s available nowadays if you live in an England city, and you listen to all the spectacular moves your peers can execute knowing you can afford to do the same, and ask; What would Jesus do?



Join the Conversation


  1. At first I thought this article was bonkers! However I do see that a considered approach to anything that encourages violence is proably worthwhile. I have a quote on my wall from Gandhi: ‘I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary and the evil it does is permanent’. I always thought that martial arts was a sport, contained within a ‘sporting activity’ and if it were used as a means of violence outside of this it was wrong. If you begin to use this argument for martial arts should I have played rugby when I often ran towards the opposition wanting to inflict some sort of pain in an attempt to get the ball!

  2. (At first I thought this article was bonkers!)

    Yeah, the title to this article may be a bit misleading.
    Reading over it, I probably meant to ask myself what my views as a believer in Christ towards martial arts are.

    My views are:

    Christian individuals do practice martial arts in all its variables regardless of Mathew 5:39
    Martial arts as a whole aint all about violence, but does have its spiritual aspects.
    Knowledge of the arts is powerful and could be dangerous.
    Practicing such Arts brings reliance on physical/mental defences and awareness of some sort not necessarily levelled with the practices of Jesus.

    (If you begin to use this argument for martial arts should I have played rugby when I often ran towards the opposition wanting to inflict some sort of pain in an attempt to get the ball!)

    I think the answer of that lies in your thinking then and now;

    Did you feel it was mutually about fun for your and your opponent?
    Would you welcome another to get the ball off you with a view to inflict some pain?

    For the record I am still considering taking up a class, and trying various arts to see what suits my beliefs best.

    Thanks for the comments anyway. Any views on this Andy?


  3. My main concern when I did Tae Kwon-do was with whether there were any direct spiritual aspects underlying the art which might be unhelpful for me. In the clubs I practiced in I never saw any evidence of that. The closest I saw was when we did pressure points, and the instructor (Grand Master Loh, who is actually a Buddhist) talked about “lines of force” in the body. I did not find this worrying – there is no good explanation (as far as I know) for how pressure points work, and the description “lines of force” can be taken as just some words to describe the phenomenon.

    As for the relationship of martial arts to violence, there certainly is one. What I discovered about myself through practicing Tae Kwon-do is how important to me violence is. I learned the intense thrill that fighting gives me, and how terrifying it is too. I found a whole part of myself that influences my character, but of which I was unaware.

    Was it good to find this out? Well, I was going to say I wasn’t sure, but actually I think I do meet other people who I really feel would benefit from this understanding. I meet some Christian men who almost try to cut out their “maleness” in an attempt to be a good Christian, and, although I don’t really know what to do with my violent nature, I do think I learnt that my “maleness” is a crucial part of me, and it would be wrong to cut it out.

    Of course, for all I know this “maleness” of which I speak may be similar for women. It’s just that the people who I notice being frustrated and feeling impotent are often Christian men, and I wonder if they would feel better if they just had a fight every now and then.

  4. I like this article. My thoughts in no particular order.

    I like watching martial arts and don’t see any real issue with them as long as they are a sport.

    However the line becomes grey when you take anything so seriously that it starts to shape the way you live.

    As regards being violent in and Christianity:
    There seems no hard and fast rule with regards to sport, almost like the rules of the game temporarily supersede that of life e.g. Rugby does not promote soft tackles but ones that really take out the opponent. This is obviously unacceptable in society but inside a game is ok!
    Christianity barely mentions sport in the bible and I believe it says it can be of some merit. Combining Christianity and anything is always tricky e.g. Christianity and politics. Violence and Christianity really don’t mix. I always get confused because of the whole soldier aspect. Jesus never says to Roman soldier “Well done for a great faith, now leave your evil soldier job and go and become a missionary.”

    Christian Maleness
    As for maleness – on the whole I think Andy hit the target smack on. Christian Males are often wimpy. This last statement is rubbish for many reasons (and I don’t want to qualify it) but there is a general feeling that being violent is so obviously wrong that we shouldn’t do it. This means that there is no outlet. Yet I challenge any male if they at some stage didn’t want to just let off steam with a few punches.
    The bible has a lot of fighting in it. The old testament seems to have no end of it and it is good, suddenly the new testament has lots of fighting and it’s all bad.
    Worth a thought?

    Sorry for not being clear on my thoughts – I’m writing on my lunch break and I haven’t had time to really think about what I’m writing but I love this topic.

  5. Hey,

    Interesting views.

    (I like watching martial arts and don’t see any real issue with them as long as they are a sport).

    Should I take it from this comment that you are putting martial arts, and self defence in two separate categories then?

    What I really wanted to bring to the fore in this article was the question of how a Christian should view learning self-defence. And I believe self-defence practices are drawn from renowned martial arts forms.

    (Christianity barely mentions sport in the bible and I believe it says it can be of some merit)

    Yeah, in Corinthians or some epistle of Paul, it is mentioned how athletes follow the discipline that is necessary to win the crown of their contests, and how Christians would benefit from having this mindset for Christ/Kingdom.

    As for the Christian are seen as wimps take, I get that, though like you stated see it as rubbish.

    (but there is a general feeling that being violent is so obviously wrong that we shouldn’t do it. This means that there is no outlet).

    No outlet for violence or no outlet for anger, and frustration?

    I hear what you are saying about the New/Old testament contradictory view towards violence, and agree that it is worth a thought. And yet there was a verse in one of the gospels where it is said that the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and that those who push forward (with this violence) are receiving it (the Kingdom)…

    The plot thickens eh?


  6. Hi Andy,

    I had the same concerns about the spiritual side of the arts when I picked up an Aikido essentials book. As I read on I later came to realise the mutually beneficial spiritual knowledge in Aikido similar to those found in the New Testament regarding the harmony of relating to one another. Interesting.

    It must have been interesting for you to find those other parts of yourself, even if violent which make you. I am not really sure about what defines “maleness” but as we are speaking on the subject of violence I will take a cue from some nasties in Eastenders as a typical image of this definition. AKA the “Alpha geezer male”. But if what you say about Christian men trying to out their maleness is the case, it comes across to me as doing abstract Christian living; whereby we kind of have an ideal of what a Christian should be outside of what we know of ourselves.

    It is a bit disheartening to hear about Christian men feeling impotent, frustrated, and all, as this was anything but what Apostle Paul envisioned when he spoke of how we should be. But on the bright side if these men need a fraternal boost do we have the next Tyler Drurden to dash the soap, and some enlightened ‘Fight Club’ tips to them?


  7. Should I learn self defence.

    Well why not?

    I am thinking that I do many things which are not really that important like badminton and yet I do them. I think that if I took it to seriously then it would be an issue but basically there is nothing wrong. Can I say I love God and do badminton – Yes. Same with anything I hear you cry! But there is a different line for all of us and who am I to draw it.

    The answer is search your heart and act in accordance with your mind.

    Outlet for anger, frustration?
    Jesus did a small bit – it is probable that the rest of us do a little bit more ?
    I’m just wandering why is it not acceptable to do things to let off steam – in the Christian way of thinking.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *