Apologetics Index

Martial Arts

Can a Christian engage in martial arts?

Christians often wonder whether or not they can engage in martial arts.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,

“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist[b] an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well.
– Source: Matthew 5:38-40 HCSB

Some Christians interpret that to mean that they should never defend themselves. Others disagree. [See, for instance, Does “Turn the Other Cheek’ Mean “Get Walked All Over’?].

People also point out that many martial arts are rooted in Eastern religious philosophy and mysticism — both of which are incompatible with Christian doctrine.

Some Christians have therefore developed Christian versions of martial arts disciplines.

Christians have similar questions and concerns regarding yoga.

Research resources on Martial Arts

Articles on martial arts

These two articles provide a good introduction on how Christian apologists view the martial arts.

  • Enter the Dragon–Part 1: The Historical/Philosophical Backdrop, by Erwin de Castro, B. J. Oropeza and Ron Rhodes

    [W]e must recognize that the martial arts are as rich and diverse as the Asian culture from which they emerged. Their roots and traditions derive from a variety of sources, from fierce warriors and aristocrats of the past–to exceptionally skilled commoners in the arts of fighting–to Taoist and Buddhist monks in search of harmony and enlightenment.

    As well, we have seen that the goals and focus of the assorted arts range from the purely pragmatic (e.g., physical fitness and self-defense) to the deeply religious and philosophical (which can lead to the esoteric and the occult). Moreover, the arts themselves continue even now to shift and adapt, as they always have, with a changing society.

    For the Christian there are questions that remain to be answered: Is it right for Christians to defend themselves via the martial arts when the Bible says to “turn the other cheek?” Is it right for Christians to participate in what many consider to be a violent activity? Even if one answers yes to these questions, is it possible for a Christian to completely divorce the Eastern religious philosophy and mysticism that often accompanies the martial arts from the distinctive physical discipline?

  • Enter the Dragon–Part 2: A Christian Assessment by Erwin de Castro, B.J. Oropeza, and Ron Rhodes. “In this second and final installment we will consider the key issues faced by Christians contemplating participation in the martial arts.”

Books on martial arts


  • United Martial Artists for Christ

    John 15:13

    A controversial issue within Christianity today is whether a Christian can practice the martial arts and we understand this. There are many views on this topic and has to be determined by each individual and how they are convicted.

    United Martial Artists for Christ does NOT believe in practicing or even teaching eastern religions or any other religions. We believe in 1 God and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s Son who came to this earth through the Virgin birth and died for mans sins and rose again three days later and we know this information is True because the Cross can change anyones life through the Redemption of Jesus. Read the Holy Bible.

    Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
    – Source: About Us

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First published (or major update) on Sunday, June 10, 2018.
Last updated on June 11, 2019.

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