3 Lessons Karate Taught Me About Jesus
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of watching Owen, my fiance, practice karate. He’s a black belt, which absolutely blows me away. His passion for martial arts and learning new things is so inspiring, and I felt honored to be able to watch him in his element.
Although some people may consider me graceful, athleticism is not something the Lord has gifted me in. So I was in awe watching Owen and his friends as they showed off their skills.
There are several lessons I’ve learned from watching just that one hour of practice. There were moments when the teacher (called a sensei) corrected his students or gave them some karate wisdom. However, I found that most of this wisdom reflected Godly principles on humility, perseverance, and focus.
Overcoming Failure With Humility
Even though Owen is a black belt, there were a few instances when he messed up a kick or got hit while sparring. Even the sensei messed up at times! It didn’t surprise me that these awesome people failed, but rather, how gracefully they handled each failure.
Each student was humble enough to acknowledge his mistake and accept correction. They were humble and open to receiving wisdom.
This is the posture we need to have towards God. None of us are perfect, but when we mess up or sin, we must be willing to humbly repent and receive forgiveness and instruction in order to live righteously.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:9-10 NIV)
When we take the posture of humility like David from the Bible, God will honor us and lift us up into victory.
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12 NIV)
Pressing on Through Trials
Owen helped his sensei teach a newer student different kinds of kicks, and although it was harder for the student to grasp, he never gave up trying.
Perseverance is one of the core values that makes faith possible. The things we want to achieve often take more time and effort than expected. The things we want God to do often take longer than we want them to.
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However, when we learn to persevere, we find that it builds our character and strengthens our faith. If life came easily and we got everything we wanted immediately, then there would be no reason to have faith or hope. But there is beauty in pressing on toward the things we are hopeful for.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 NIV)
A Karate Focus
One thing that surprised me as I was watching Owen’s karate practice was the way the instructor often told the newer student to stop overthinking.
When the student was sparring, he was trying so hard to predict his opponent’s next move that he failed to recognize the opportunities for attack right in front of him.
This is so common in my faith walk, and I know I’m not alone. Often times I get so worried or caught up in my own thoughts that I lose sight of Jesus.
Life is exciting, challenging, and surprising. There are so many distractions the enemy hurls at us to take our focus away from God and fill us with anxiety and temptation instead.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NIV)
When we are so focused on trying to figure out our next move and how to win at this life, we open up a target for the devil to attack. The only way to win this spiritual battle is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. He is sovereign and is the only one who will never fail us.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2 NIV)
I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be able to watch my future husband practice such an incredible sport. It’s amazing how, if we have our hearts turned toward the Lord, we can find Godly wisdom in everything around us. When our focus is on the only One who truly matters, it changes our perspective on everything.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below
(Photography by Jason Briscoe and Luke Stackpoole)
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Jennifer L Swanson
I loved your post. My family had been in taekwondo for about 12 years. We are getting ready to start teaching a group at our church that is a Bible study and taekwondo class. If you don’t mind I would love to share your post with our group.
Thank you so much Jennifer! I think it’s so awesome how you are combining that passion with Jesus! My fiance practices taekwondo and is starting to teach me as well. I would be honored for you to share my post, and only ask that you mention or share the link to my website as well 🙂 I will pray for this Bible study!
Having now done karate for almost 38 years, it has been a way of life and a way through life, the dojo kun or rules that all karateka should live their lives by are these:
Seek perfection of character
Refrain from violent behavior
Are these not key principles of the bible? All taught by Jesus himself?
To make mistakes is fine, to over come them by following these rules is where the victory is. I hope your partner keeps training, keeps striving and getting better in karate as well as a person.
You should train with him too!
Wow, thank you so much for your wisdom Wayne! These principles are a reflection of Jesus, which is one of the many reasons my fiance loves karate. Owen actually does want to start training me and we plan on starting that soon! I will show him your comment. I’m sure he’ll love it. 😊 Thanks for stopping by and be blessed!
So many great points here, Emily. I think what really stands out to me in this post is overthinking. This happens to me at night when I need to rest. The Lord has shown me that my anxiety stems from the sin of not trusting HIM.
The way to set our things above is to meditate on His promises rather than whatever is worrying us.
Thanks for another great post!
God bless 🙂
Thank you Beckie! I’m totally with you on the overthinking part. God has been teaching me to live in the present, for tomorrow will worry about itself. God bless you and thanks for commenting! 💓