Bruce Lee and The Martial Arts:
The Christian Perspective
. . . .
Bruce Lee was dubbed,”the little Dragon” by many. In fact he was born in the year of the Dragon in 1940 in San Francisco. Millions of martial arts enthusiasts around the globe are followers of his fame and fighting concepts. He is the first name that comes to mind to almost everyone who is queried on te most popular and respected Martial Artist of all time.
His 1973 film, “Enter the Dragon” has become a standard in the fight film genre.
His spiritual religion of preference was Zen Buddhism and he adapted many principles from these types of religious philosphies to his fighting style, Jeet Kune Do or “the Way of the Intercepting Fist.”
As far as he and Jesus Christ was concerned, Bruce Lee was an enemy of the Lord. Even as far back as his school days in Xavier school in Hong Kong in the fifties, he wrote in his personal diary that he had no need of God and hated having to recite the Lord’s prayer at the commencement of the schoolday. He bought the Devil’s lie in believing in self which he fully subscribed to till the day of his death in 1973.
Bruce Lee stated later in his life after achieving much success that, “I believe in me” in response to a question concerning whether he believed in God or not. Many youngsters, especially Japanese girls idolized him. In fact one fan letter stated that the writer, a young Japanese girl, loved Bruce Lee more than Jesus!
Bruce Lee brought the violent Martial Arts to the screen in a smooth, polished and fascinating package (much like the Beatles did in bringing rebellious Rock Music to America in a, “clean cut” way on the Ed Sullivan Show).
The deception of the multitude of Martial Arts out there continues across the globe largely due to the influence of people like Lee. Hence this introduction to the Christian, Biblical position on the Martial Arts which follows.
Firstly, you may ask: Why this article on something that is seemingly so trivial and unconnected to the Church at large?
Answer: There is a real need for clarification on this often, confused topic. Many are suffering spiritually and in other ways for lack of proper perspective on this issue.
Consider the following:
1. You may have been, or presently are, or will be involved in the Martial Arts in any one its various forms in the future.
2. Or you may know some Christian who is interested in or is doing the Martial Arts. Perhaps, a younger or older brother, sister, cousin etc.
3. Even if neither of the above applies to your situation, still you will eventually come across this subject among your families or friends and maybe even in your church’s recreational, “ministries.” You need to be armed with the Christian perspective on this matter.
We all need to know the Biblical truth regarding the practice of the Martial Arts.
In actuality, there are many, many people, from small children to senior citizens who are participants in the Martial Arts who would also call themselves Christians. The number seems to be ever on the rise as fear for personal safety also increases among people in a new, terror-filled soceity. Then there are the numerous self defense and sports classes involving the Martial Arts that are advertised and offered almost everywhere from the Physical Education Dept. in high schools and colleges/universties to the Recreational Organizations such as the YMCA (which actually stands for, Young Men’s Christian Association) to the individual private schools that abound across the world colorfully displaying the, “superiority” of their style or system. Not to mention the violence glorified in the movies by combative action heroes, who are idolized by many. A flashy kick or deep medidation by, “spiritually evolved” grandmasters, is, “wowed!” by people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the world.
The Martial Arts
The term, “Martial Arts” generally refers to the collective body of various personal or individual fighting systems or methods. The English words taken literally of course convey the obvious: it is the art of fighting or the body of, “warlike” arts. Usually, one thinks of some of the popular, philosophically-based systems of self-defense from the orient such as karate, aikido, tai-chi and kung-fu. Within these in turn, exist a whole slew of different styles. Not to mention many others specific to certain countries and eras which have been passed down from generation to generation. Still add to these, the modern day, combative, “sports” such as boxing, wrestling and the like and you have a phenomenal array of styles and methods of physical aggression which have evolved over the years and which have many devotees practicing and teaching them.
The reasons given as support for being involved in the Martial Arts will always invariably fall into one or more of the categories listed below.
Here then, are the Top 14 Reasons (under seven categories) why many Christians, as do their secular counterparts, advocate involvement in the Martial Arts:
1. External Security Reasons
A. It is necessary for self-preservation and increases the odds of survival if attacked. (self-defense)
B. It is necessary to protect my family and other loved ones or my (innocent)fellow man from evil men.
2. Inner Security Reasons
A. It teaches how one can gain a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence that can be transferred to any, other “life” situation.
B. It teaches one how to achieve inner freedom and peace.
3. Recreational and Therapeutic Reasons
A. It is fun.
B. It is therapeutic Such as Tai-Chi or similar slower art. (Even Tai Chi has Taoism, a false religion of yin and yang seeking oneness with Nature, without Jesus of course, as its foundation). It teaches how to maintain balance and proper posture.
4. Physical Conditioning Reasons
A. It builds the muscles and is good for overall conditioning.
B. It is a fantastic way to stretch the limits of the human body and to display such skills and qualities as speed, power, limberness, gymnastic capabilities of various sorts etc.
5. Scientific and Aesthetic Reasons
A. It is a wonderfully, precise science (the physics and kinesiology behind it are fascinating).
B. It is a beautiful art (the forms collection of various, sequenced movements not unlike dance choreography).
6. Religious/Ministry Reasons
A. If I master it I can use it as a ministry tool and bring others to Christ., especially impressionable youth who might not otherwise come to Him.
B. By practicing it with the Christian Philosophy of Love, I can focus on, “minimal injury to my attackers” as the goal and thereby achieve peace with my fellow man while getting his respect.
7. Egotistical Reasons
A. Frankly, it makes me feel more like a man having the knowledge that I can handle any physical atercations and prevent sudden potential embarrasement or harm to myself or my family due to the antics of some bully or a would-be assailant.
B. Honestly speaking, I do kind of like the way others are awed by my knowledge and ability in the Martial Arts.
The Christian Martial Artist or really the “Martial” Christian (what a contradiction!) also asserts that he can indeed learn and practice this while rejecting the anti-Christian philosophy that it is behind many of these arts. He believes that as long as he can treat it purely as physical exercise and not bow down to any other gods or spiritual teaching that comes with it, then that’s fine with God.
Now, for those of you who are dogmatic adherents of, “an acceptable,” form of practicing the Martial Arts: Please, Brace yourselves as this mighty, carnal stronghold in your lives is about to be pulled down by spiritual weapons which will effect your release and give you True Freedom!
For, in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, each and every one of the satanic (of the Wicked One who is interested not in the things that be of God but the things that be of man, Matthew 16:23) reasons listed above that are often given by deceived, supporters of the study, practice and teaching of the Martial Arts, will be categorically and unequivocally exposed for the lie that it is, by the Light of God’s Word and will be disposed of (we pray) from your thinking and life by the Presence of the Illuminating Holy Spirit of God. One just needs to lay down human wisdom and yield to the, “foolishness” of the Cross of Christ (which the world and Satan perceived as the epitomy of weakness). As we understand the meaning of the Cross and let the Holy Spirit apply that Truth to our daily lives, then we will see that, “His Strength is made perfect in our weakness.” – 2Corinthians 12:9
1Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1Corinthians 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
Let us consider then the above reasons from the standpoint of God’s Word. If one is willing to humble oneself under the teaching of Jesus Christ, it would be readily apparent from the following, that the practice of the Martial Arts is diametrically opposed to the Truth as it is found in Christ.
The practice of the Martial Arts is inherently wrong.
The practice of learning to actually strike or harm someone through punches, kicks, locks, throws etc., or the simulation of doing such things is inherently wrong. Jesus does not advocate violence or techniques to overpower anyone physically. He wants us to be gentle and forbearing, entrusting ourselves to Him Who judges righteously and will repay the evil doer. He certainly doesn’t want His follower to practice self-defense! He is our defense and He will never allow a threatening situation to develop for a person who is His Child and Servant or his family, whereby He won’t either deliver through whatever means He wills to use at the time or allow for some hurt and pain to come for the Gospel’s sake. Nothing in the life of the Child of God happens for bad ultimately so long as he depends on the Lord his God and obeys Him.
God will help His Children in any situation, even violent ones. Either one of three things will happen ultimately.
1. we will get killed and go to be with God or
2. we will get injured or
3. get deliverance by God’s sudden provision of another person or some other means (the Bible is full of such examples; Hezekiah, Paul, Elisha etc.)
It is ultimately an obedience and faith issue. It is also a humility issue. If we believe that He will never allow anything bad to happen to those who follow His commandments, then there is no fear of the future or any circumstance, even unfavorable and unexpected ones. He is Sovereign! He will do things for His Glory and for our ultimate good!
This Art is obviously not a peaceful thing. God opposes the violent man. The Martial Arts, contrary to many of the adherents’ claims, most definitely encourages a subtle development of pride and a carnal, competitive spirit in an art that emphasizes a, “survival of the fittest” mentality through diligently study of destructive empty hand (and foot) weapons and instills in the individual an inclination to be in the “ready” position to getting involved in a violent situation whenever and wherever it develops. The practice of the Martial Arts is a positive hindrance to spiritual growth. Basic stretching or strengthening exercises are not wrong when kept as a small, disciplined part of one’s life.
1Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
But the foundational elements in the, “soft” as well as the hard, “Martial” Arts are wrong and it is like inviting a wild horse to live with you day by day. While trying to control this new animal of pride with all sorts of associated, carnal thoughts of self-defense and ego and competition you are trying to live a gentle, holy and peaceful life.
Psalms 33:17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
Who in their right, spiritual mind would introduce a brake to the progress of a holy life which would be imitating gentle, non-violent Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Who did not break a bruised reed nor did He quench a smoking flax.
Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
Psalms 11:5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
The Christian, Martial Artist is a contradiction if there ever was one. He is simply trying to serve two masters at once and that will never work.
If the origin indicates that the whole thing started with Buddhist monks who learned to defend themselves from surrounding belligerents peoples, while trying to attain spirituality, then what does the Chrisitan who has God as His Defense have anything to do with it? (Some would even argue that the arts did not start with Shaolin or Buddhist monks and that actually, in “Bible times” it can be traced back to Egypt (which makes it worse in some sense because of the spiritual significance of “Egypt” in the Bible!)
Cannot we see that the very origin is pagan and wrong? Whether we embrace the religious/and philosophical and metaphysical aspects of the Martial Arts, we must still understand that it is inherently wrong every way you look at it.
After all, if the goal is self-preservation, then what good is it for someone to be standing around praying when he or she are trained to hurt and kill? This too is quite obviously not in tune with the Spirit of God at all.
Training for self-defense purposes is to add to God’s provision of deliverance from evil men. Can God use someone mighty? Yes. Yet, He doesn’t say train for self-defense. However, we note in the Scriptures that he very often uses the weak and the few in order to accomplish a mighty deliverance, so that the glory goes to him. We are never to be self-sufficient or do or practice anything that promotes that. For self-sufficiency before God is an abomination and the child of Pride.
Many martial arts will have the symbol of the Dragon under their motto. Who is the Dragon in the Bible? None other than Satan! Let us be wise and reject it!
The man who practices the Martial arts and claims allegiance to Jesus Christ will never mature in Him fully as he ought to. He is behaving like a heathen child, learning how to fight physically so as to promote a better sense of security. When a person’s complete confidence is in God, then he has no need of any Martial Arts or weapons, or an earthly army even. All that’s necessary is to do God’s Will. The Martial Arts is not at all in God’s Will but actually militates against His Word. Our time and energy must be invested in reaching the lost for Christ and in building up His kingdom and for the love and service of our brethren. Not to spend a lifetime in trying to, “Christianize”, our own lusts and interests and then try to offer them up for God’s service either. The Lord is not mocked. We will continually reap peaceless thoughts as a result of being a Martial Artist and the only Art we will be developing in the spiritual sense is the Art of forever trying to justify what God shows is clearly not the lifestyle He has ordained for His children.
There is no example of any believer in the New Testament ever trying to physically defend himself or others to save themselves out of physical harm. The principle is to, “turn the other cheek” which at the very least tells us not to waste our God given time energy and other resources to “train” in self-defense. On the contrary, the Lord says to be godly first and then when we do not resist others when they unjustly persecute us, then His glory may rest on us and He can even use that as an opportunity to win some of our enemies to Him.
He never dictates to us that we ought to use measured or controlled physical responses (fighting skills) to calm down an aggressor by hurting them only so much and then win his respect. NO! He does not advocate us hurting anyone or self-defense training!
Rather than aspiring for belts and degrees, let us seek to be filled with the Spirit of God and the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Gal. 5 ( i.e. love, joy, peace etc.)
If we insist on living in the flesh with a worldy mentality to responding to violence or dabble in something that promises false peace or if we use something even for physical conditioning when it is inherently wrong and diametrically opposed to meek and lowly, Way of the Lord Jesus Christ or whatever purpose or so-called benefit, then we will be left in the desert to wander another, “forty years” until we walk humbly before him with total reliance on Him and Him alone.
The greatest command to love your neighbor as yourself is exemplified by those who understand that love makes itself vulnerable at times so as to save the sinner who hurts it never even thinking to retaliate.
When the Lord used the specific Word in the Old Testament, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, He did not modify it for His New Testament followers. Rather, in sharp contrast and perhaps shocking to many, He said the opposite. “Do not resist an evil person …” and for emphasis, He said to take the punishment instead (almost inviting more) by being non-retaliatory and show them the love of Christ and for the Christian to entrust themselves into God’s Hands instead.
Why would a Christian spend time in developing carnal weapons when the actual warfare and attacks are essentially spiritual in nature? God has given us spiritual weapons that will literally bring down many evil spirits which are the real enemies acting within the evil aggressors. How we have forfeited the Truth and sold ourselves to that cunning Dragon’s lies who is quite content as long as we are wrapped up in the natural and physical realm and never mature enough even to exercise, proper use of our spiritual weapons: the armor of God in Ephesians 6! We wrestle not with flesh and blood but with principalities, powers and spritual wickedness in the high places. So the Lord very logically and graciously provides us not only insight into the nature of our struggle here on earth, but gives us the weapons with which to defend ourselves (True God ordained, “self-defense!”) and defeat the great Dragon and his emissaries.
Some Final Thoughts:
There are many books and philosophies and interpretations these days, but the question is how much faith do I have in the Word of the Lord? If we had proper faith, then we would not be worried for our personal safety like people who do not have the Lord as their God. So, ultimately it is a faith issue. Also, if we were spiritually minded and were busy with obeying God’s call to spread the gospel, helping the poor and handicapped, and engaging in spiritual warfare, praying for spiritual victories, then we would not have time for things that are childish, like the Martial Arts. This is the plain Truth, brother. To the degree, someone has time for any carnal pursuit like the MA, they are robbing God of the rightful service due Him and hampering their own spiritual progress as well.
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Cor 13:11)
Please receive the Truth and do not be offended because there are others who have had to face this Truth and have surrendered to God’s Perfect Will.
There are many voices in the world today which, “modernize” the Word of God to suit their own particular fancies but our concern should always be, “How can I be more like my Lord?” and “Am I prepared to give my life for the Lord?”
If we are sincere in asking such questions and in obedience to Jesus’ command to lose our lives for His sake, then our understanding and application of the entire Word of God will be in line with the Author Himself.
We must realize that our battle is indeed spiritual in nature and we ought be prepared and engaged in that, then we would have no time for physical warfare or a battle of wits, which will only keep us earthly minded and be unprofitable.
Let’s concentrate on the spiritual battle and God will take care of the rest. God has never let any of His children down; when they have trusted Him, He takes full responsibility for their protection.
What kind of self-defense could we suggest to a 90-year old saint? There are many aged and physically feeble saints who are in the most dangerous parts of the world living for Jesus, yet they survive by His grace with no other protection, but Divine protection. We ought to train ourselves spiritually now, so that when our physical strength fails one day, we will not be defenseless but will have learned how to entrust our lives into our Heavenly Father’s care.
Remember, our example should never be man, even the example of, a good Christian man, but the Lord Himself and we will never go wrong nor have a doubt that we are in His Perfect Will.
“He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” – 1 John 2:6
May the Lord Bless you.
Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Eph 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
The Christians who are not spiritual and do not comprehend nor receive the plain teaching of scripture regarding the battle in the spiritual realm will try to perfect their Martial Arts and find that before the devil, they (along with Bruce Lee, Usheyibi and the like) are a complete laughingstock because they did not make the Lord their God nor trust Him for their deliverance but rather relied upon their techniques and “mental awareness” and puny human strength. Indeed, their development of their inner man and wonderful self-confidence have only greased the downward pathway to the depths of Hell. They have gone down to Egypt for help against their enemies, they have consulted the priests of Baal for inner peace by seeking the Martial Arts and those pagan, idolotrous teachers (Sifus) as a way of life when Jesus said He is the [only] Way, Truth and Life.
2Kings 18:21 Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.
The Lord Jesus did not fight nor teach His immediate disciples or his future followers how to fight physically in the 3 1/2 years He walked physically with them. If it had been as important to defend oneself physically (as some try to persuade us) even in those robber-infested roads of Jericho, surely the Grandest Master that ever walked the earth (or will walk the earth) would have taught his followers a few basic joint locks and kicks etc! On the contrary, he taught self-sacrifice and blessing and loving one’s enemies and submitting the rest of our situations and circumstances and outcomes to God Who is ever watching over His own and will surely defend them.
1John 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
Let us walk as our Master did; it is enough that the student be like his Master.
Luke 6:40, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.”
Can you see dear one how totally deceived you are/were to follow that which is conducive to manifesting the works of the flesh instead the manifesting the fruit of the Spirit?
May God give you, the reader understanding and convict by His Holy Spirit to depart from unfruitful works and instead, to spend your time and energy and resources to prepare yourself for His sudden appearance when He shall judge every man’s deeds done in the body. Give your strength ands energy and affection to helping others, spiritually and physically. Let no man who reads this, say he was not warned ahead of time.