Christians Turn to Martial Arts Amid Accelerated Violence

( [email protected] ) Nov 12, 2003 10:10 AM EST

London -- In light of the recent surge of violence against ministers and vicars, two vergers at Sheffield Cathedral were commissioned as the first staff in an English Cathedral to take a self-defense course for the protection of the church and its congregants.

"As vergers we always aim to treat everyone with the same fairness and respect, but that can be difficult when you are faced with an angry man demanding money with menaces, or someone you know is wanted by the police for violent behavior,” said one of the trainees, David Maw.

"Jujitsu isn't on the cards, but we need to know how to deal with potentially violent situations and come out unscathed,” added the second trainee, Bill Ross.

Figures published earlier this year showed a 33 percent increase in the number of violent crimes against church personnel since 1999. During the 4 year period, 561 attacks were recorded in England alone, including two murders in 2002.

Because of such violence, according to the Archbishop of York David Hope, “"It is extraordinarily difficult to find clergy willing to move to inner city areas.

"There is a distinct lack of applications, particularly in the north and some of the more difficult areas,” he added.

Similarly, in the United States, a new wave of “Christian Martial Arts” hit the streets. The Academy of Christian Martial Arts kneads biblical teachings into the instruction of “jujitsu and tang soo do.”

"It's kind of an oxymoron, isn't it?'' said David Sgro, owner of the martial arts school. "As a Christian, I believe that martial arts didn't originate in Korea or Asia,'' he continued. "It originated in biblical times.''

Sgro said his school teaches that violence should only be used as a last resort.

"If we hit,'' he said, "we hit to defend ourselves.''

"Nothing we do conflicts with Christian views.”