5.20.2008

karate as discipleship

A couple of years ago I listened to Rob Bell's sermon Entitled "Mastering the Art of Living." He started out describing the experience of watching his brother's karate class. I was particularly drawn to the parallels between the karate student to karate teacher and disciple to rabbi. As he went on I realized that there aren't many relationships in our western culture that resemble the rabbi talmidim (disciple) relationship. I really liked the sermon and I chewed on it for a while. Around the same time I saw my friend Ritchie test for one of his levels in taekwondo. As Ritchie and the other candidates attempted to advance in rank, their teacher made every little thing into a lesson. He talked about push ups and how they can develop character. "If you can do 5 you can do 10, if you can do 10 you can do 20..." he said. He build upon that idea saying the same is true for school work, you start out small and you do it right, then you will build up some mental muscles. It made sense.

I started to realize that there was a disconnect for me between church and my real life. Ritchie's teacher stressed taking the lessons learned in the dojo (their place of training) into the rest of the world. At that point, I hadn't experienced many examples of what it meant to take the lessons learned in church (small C) into the rest of my life. What did it mean to love? What does integrity look like in the real world. I had a few, but the examples were not many.

I also see implications between teaching lessons and physical activity. It is a lot easier to teach boys this way. I doubt parents at shoreline would be very happy if I asked the students to bring sparring equipment to services, but there has to be a way for the tactile learners to get something out of services/gatherings beyond children's church. Why do we stop coloring when we get out of kid's church anyway? Wouldn't the adults dig a flannel board? I would.

So, I take karate. I studied for almost a year in Japan.

I've studied it in America for five months and I'll do a post later contrasting the differences. They are kinda funny. I'm not into the fighting part that much. I kinda goof off until I get hit hard, and then I unleash my "fury." Tonight I advanced one more level to orange (the 3rd level out of 7). I practice, I exercise, and I continue to think that there is something more to learning karate than what is on the surface.

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