What is true self-defense?
Yet in all these things we are more than
conquerors through Him who loved us
I cannot count the times that people of all ages have come to my school telling me that they want to learn self-defense. We have a conversation in which they tell me that they either have a little experience with martial arts or, most often, no experience. They might know someone who does have experience and have heard about martial arts skills. How to get fit, how to improve balance and coordination, how to defend yourself in an attack, how to fight, how to kick and punch . . . the list goes on and on. There are many martial arts “studios” in most cities in the United States today, and they all say that they teach self-defense. Even the name of my school is Shin’s Martial Arts Institute, but is better known as Shin’s Tae Kwon Do. Unfortunately, many people misunderstand what martial arts encompasses and how it can be so much more than they expect. Yes, our biggest goal is to practice and teach self-defense. But what is “self-defense?” Can it be more than that term denotes? Is there a deeper meaning that some can appreciate while others may never quite grasp? The answer . . . “YES.”
Think about your own beginning. Why did you think you wanted to “do” Tae Kwon Do? Did you want to have the skills of a fighter? Did you want to ward off attackers? Did you want to lose weight or improve your body? Did you want your child to be able to deal with bullies? Of course! Those are all reasons people decide to begin martial arts. And, as expected, we teach these things. We can help people of all ages learn to kick, punch, block, and anticipate a possible threat when it comes to their physical well-being. We can give them a great work out and have them sweating, huffing and puffing, trying to pull out their physical best. They can feel the pain of not blocking a hit and the reward of executing an effective attack or counter-attack. They can learn to react quickly to a moving target and focus on a particular point. And through all of these physical techniques we teach, they find themselves losing weight, getting more balance, thinking more clearly, and feeling like they can fight if ever called upon to do so. This is all very good. But . . . there is so much more. This type of self-defense is just scratching the surface of a much higher level of “true” self-defense that is life-changing.
In order to reach this true self-defense, one needs to make the transition from a physical form of Tae Kwon Do to the spiritual level. Who are the actual enemies we fight every day of our lives? These are the unseen internal issues that we deal with just by trying to live and survive in the world of today. We are constantly bombarded by things of this world that make us feel less confident, live in an atmosphere of constant competition to acquire more earthly goods that we think will make us feel better, and turning to social media to try to combat these stressors. Many teens and young adults, as well as middle aged, are finding it too much to handle. One result of this stress has been an increase in suicides across all age groups which, as of 2016, was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2016 the rate of suicide had grown to twice that of homicides. And the CDC reports that the numbers are growing at an alarming rate. Even higher income does not solve this problem. Often, the more a person grows in wealth, the higher the likelihood there will be a tragic result. Lacking confidence, inner fears, uncertainty about the future, and falling away from spiritual growth is creating a crisis that many are unable to handle.
So, what is the answer to this crisis? You must learn that “True Self-Defense” is really all about LOVE. Not Eros love at the physical level, but Agape love, the love that Jesus taught us. While this was not what I explained to you when you first came into my instruction, if you have listened to me when I am teaching class, you probably have heard me explain this to you. I am convinced that when you only practice Tae Kwon Do at the physical level you are missing something very important. While Tae Kwon Do is not a religion, it is rather a guide for you to attain the ultimate goal of spiritual growth. That growth results in the type of love that will protect your life eternally. Yes, in the beginning it is physical Tae Kwon Do. But as you grow in your experience, you should transition into an understanding that we practice and teach love in every class. Our body is a tool. When we practice physical Tae Kwon Do we are indirectly building our spirit. As time passes, we learn to fight our internal battles, those things that are hard to express to others, but that seem to present the most danger to our lives.
The ultimate transition into true self-defense is when we learn to let go of those types of battles and turn them over to the Master Battle Fighter. I realize that some people may be uncomfortable when I explain this, but I am committed to give you this message because it is the truth. I use Tae Kwon Do to create a bridge for you to understand this. Jesus told us in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." When we accept that God loves us so much that He will fight our battles on all levels, then we submit ourselves to True Self-Defense. His Son was given to save our souls. And what is more important than your soul? Over 3,500 years ago, Exodus 14:14 tells us “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” For some people, it is hard to accept this truth. They are caught up living in this world placing their trust in worldly things, thinking they can handle any battle alone. It is only through the love of God as shown to us in Jesus Christ that we can face any foe.
Whether it is a physical battle or the type of inner battles that are unseen.
The Bible, most widely published book of all time, is full of stories in which God has shown us love and shown us how to love. When He sent His son to redeem our sins, He sent a message for us about how we can live a life with true self-defense through Jesus. My message to you is that I want you to accept this truth. This is what I believe I was sent here to do. God has shown us that His love conquers all.
And that love is our “true self-defense.”
"What then shall we say to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31