Martial Arts Magazine
Biblical Fighting Arts
by TMAN Freelance Writer Ben Smith
This month in Martial Arts magazine we touch on a very interesting and
exciting topic. Over the years many martial artists cross train to learn about
various arts. Others read books like the Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee or
the Book of Five Rings by Musashi. Still others look to SunTzu's The Art of
War for not only martial thoughts but also business information and philosophy.
Martial Arts instructor Kurt Frankenberg took another major book-The Bible-
to look at some martial philosophies and explain them in a very unique yet secular
BS-.Can you give us an overview of you and when you started martial arts training
KF-I started my love affair with the martial arts at the age of seven on an
Force base in Alaska. That was 1974, and we studied Tae Kwon Do at the Field
House on Elmendorf. Later, as my father's career advanced and we moved to South
Carolina, I studied American boxing at the Optimist's Club in Sumter. I later
studied at the Air Force Academy youth center in the following arts: Tang Soo
Do, Shotokan, and Chinese Kempo-Karate. Chinese Kempo appealed the most to me
and in 1980 I made it my sole source of training for the next thirteen years.
BS-What happened then?
KF-Well, the Kempo organization I was a part of was an international outfit.
My branch school had grown to be the second largest in Colorado. Then the local
representative that I answered to and I had a falling out due to different views
on business, etc. Unfortunately, to terminate my business relationship with
this man meant that I had to leave the organization altogether. So in 1993,
with no "home" organization to back me and no one to further my training, I
began looking around. Since then, I have had the opportunity to learn under
some of the great martial artists of our time, picking up techniques and philosophy
from great men like Daryl Johnson, Wally Jay, Stewart Lauper, Bob Orlando, and
BS-You have many disciplines at your school, Many times children have a hard
time with some arts...do you have a select process where one person starts in
an art and climb to a different one or do students select their favorite?
KF-Our White to Black Belt curriculum gives an overview of several different
disciplines. Chinese Kempo is what I know best, so that's the real "meat" of
what we do. Adding to that, we give the basics of several other arts, so students
can be familiar with what's out there. Now, as a student progresses to Black
Belt and beyond, he'll definitely show strength in one or more areas.
Students are then encouraged to make the most of their "long suits", whilebeing
aware of their limitations also. It's a good mix. Many of my studentsexcel in
an area that I've introduced them to, to the end of being better thanme at it.
That's how our system grows.
BS-What is your teaching workout routine look like (in a normal class)?
KF-Our workout routine is probably just like anyone else's: We do a safe and
thorough warm-up first to reduce injuries. Then we practice a few basics, do
a LOT of drills, and then work application. Since we cross-train a lot of different
skills, an advanced class might include anything from stick arts to grappling,
pressure point work to kickboxing. Beginners start with American boxing skills,
because I believe that to be our indigenous martial art. No one is feared more
than Americans in the boxing ring.
BS-Is there concentration on self-defense or sport karate etc.?
KF-Self-defense is our main gig, but I don't subscribe to the belief that
training for point karate actually hampers your self-defense. Cross-training
is important to other physical disciplines, like football players that do racquetball
or ballet. As long as a student remembers not to use point sparring techniques
and apply point sparring rules to an actual street conflict, I believe that
competition can only help. Sport karate demands heightened athleticism, helps
one to seek and seize opportunity, teaches the intricacies of using feints and
combination strikes. Very few of my students actually do tournament karate,
but those that do are equally talented in their self-defense skills.
BS- You began seeking information on training from outside the normal philosophies.
Why did you seek from the Bible?
KF-The real answer? Because I knew that the information would be both reliable
and applicable. The Bible is not a book on how to wage war. Neither is it a
book of medicine, astronomy, finance, agriculture, or political science. But
when it speaks on these subjects, the information it contains has found to be
accurate and relevant. I looked to the Bible for wisdom in battle doctrine because
it's there. General Patton, one of this country's great military leaders, claimed
that he got many of his great battle maneuvers and principles from the Old Testament.
My thinking was that, if Patton could get large scale strategic movements from
the Bible, that I might find principles and tactics for the individual soldier.
BS-You found practical instruction in the Bible? Can you explain some ofwhat
KF-Well, I started in the Old Testament because that's where all those battles
and great heroes are described. The first mention of martial training is in
Genesis, with the servants of Abram. Later, in Exodus and Joshua, themovements
of troops, espionage, and different types of attacks are detailed.
In Judges and the books of Samuel are the meat and potatoes of what I teach
in my seminar, Martial Arts of the Near East (MANE). These books have the most
references to the tactics of hand-to-hand combat.
BS-This sounds very interesting... When we spoke earlier, you mentioned that
you found six principles and sub principles. You also said there are some principles
that are practical and applicable immediately. Can you give us some examples?
KF-Yes, Ben. I think all practitioners search for the ultimate art, once theyrecognize
that their own is limited. Well, years ago, I began a quest, ratherthan just
learning the techniques of other styles, to look for the underlyingprinciples
that made the maneuvers work. Once one understands the principles, then the
techniques naturally begin to develop. My theory was that all martial arts,
regardless of their emphasis (striking, grappling, handtechniques, kicking techniques,
etc.), have a common root. My research intothe Bible confirmed this theory!
There are only six major principles inmartial arts training, regardless of the
culture from which the art comes.Mastering the six principles, then, is key
to understanding self-defense andimproving one's own program.
As an example, here is one of the six principles: Number 3, Space Management.
Whether you practice boxing, kendo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or gunfighting, it
is critical to control the distance between you and your opponent. This maximizes
your mobility and leverage while minimizing his. Being in control with this
category of techniques, which includes footwork, checks, and holds, will enable
you to enjoy a great advantage over your opponent.
BS- A lot of peole look to the Bible for pacifistic answers to problems intheir
lives but there are areas and a lot of them where violence plays a role.
David and Goliath is one that comes to mind. So people should not be worried
that someone is "reading" more into a parable. Do the violent sounding areas
in the Bible play a part in your studies?
KF-Absolutely! But I'll tell you something strange. I've drawn almost nocriticism
whatever from atheists that have attended my seminar. MostChristians that have
taken the class have thanked me repeatedly because theyfelt weird about doing
Karate and being a Christian. By the end of the class,it's clear that there
is no contradiction. The only folks that seem to have aproblem with me teaching
fighting techniques from the Bible have never read it for their own enjoyment.
I had a young mother tell me that fighting is not Christian, and I asked her
for the chapter and verse where she read that. She couldn't tell me! After I
gently told her that, though I don't condoneviolence, sometimes it's necessary
to be prepared, and the Bible teaches how. Now her little ones are in my class,
so obviously she's OK with it now.
BS- Tell us a little about your seminars, Martial Arts of the Near East.
KF-MANE is a hands-on seminar where we practice the six principles at work.
At the beginning, I remind everyone that this is NOT a time to be discussing
religion, but rather to open up the book and see what it says about fighting
principles. We are all to respect one another's freedom of will andupbringing,
and there will be no "altar call" at the end. Next, each studentreceives a sixteen-page
syllabus, including five pages of scripture quotes, touse as a reference. Then,
we blow everybody's mind with a demonstration of the first principle, Girding
the Loins. With two verses of Scripture and one minute of lecture on how to
do it, suddenly everyone understands the principle that's behind Aikido's mystical
Unbendable Arm and Thousand Pound Man demos. We also show the three keys to
escaping any hold.
From there on it's action every minute for about two hours, and we take a
tenminute break. By then, everyone's dying for water and oxygen, and sincethat's
related to the second principle, we learn that one really well. Afterthe break,
we take the more experienced volunteers from the group todemonstrate their favorite
self-defense maneuvers from their own art. Whether it's Kenpo, Arnis, or Greco-Roman
wrestling, all the participants start to get excited. "That's Girding the Loins,"
they say. "Ohhhh, he's Using the Shield!". I've seen veteran Black Belt's eyes
light up from the excitement of knowing WHY a certain strategy works-- and how
they can improve it in their own arsenal.
After three hours, we've done an overview of all six principles and some oftheir
sub-principles. We've gone into depth only on the first three, and Iask to return
for a three hour, follow up seminar to cover the second threeprinciples in detail.
BS- What have you noticed people say after taking a seminar from you?
KF-The first thing the host usually asks is,"When can we do the follow-up?"
Seriously, the three most common things that are said are comments about some
techniques and sub-principles: Wiggling the Key in the Lock, the Lightning Arm
Bar, and the Double Minded Man. Also, when a participant comes up afterwards
to talk with me, he'll say something like, "You know, it's like I've known this
stuff all along...I mean, this is the first time I've heard it put this way,
but it makes sense." That's because truth is truth. Anybody that cross trains
starts relating one art to the other, because of what's common between them.
Well, that's what my seminar is all about, getting to the common root of all
martial arts, the principles that make them work.
BS- When you go to martial arts schools to speak about martial principlesin
the Bible..did you see some hesitation from students thinking that thismight
be a "preaching" sort of seminar?KF-Well, that's why I start off the seminar
by saying, this isn't an altar call,I'm not a preacher in disguise here to trick
you...People are intelligent.They don't want to waste their time listening to
a religious nut, so that'snot what I give them. I've found out, though, that
I don't need to overcome alot of resistance with martial arts students because
their instructors are soprotective. If the school owner calls me because he's
interested in myseminar, it's usually because he's open minded enough to look
at it anyway.After we talk, or meet, I'll come out to his or her school to present
and thestudents are receptive because they trust their instructor's judgement.
BS- How can one improve their skills with the knowledge of Bible philosophies?
KF-First by being exposed to them. It doesn't have to be in my seminar. Irecommend
reading I Samuel 17, Psalm 18 and 144 for starters. The entire book of Joshua
is like the Art of War, except from a spiritual perspective. For some specific
techniques and target areas, I recommend Judges and II Samuel. For the advanced
searcher, use a concordance of software program to look up words like "smite",
"sword", "armor", "shout", et cetera, and you'll find both theoretical and practical
BS-You have been booked solid for the last quarter of '98 with yourseminars..what
is in store for you in '99?
KF-I'll be doing more seminars, mostly follow-ups, and developing a network
of schools interested in the study of Biblical fighting arts. Also, I'll be
coming out with a few magazine articles and perhaps the first in a series of
instructional videos. I'd like to get input from any of your readersregarding
historical Bible lands warfare, or instruction in the use of a sling(like David's).
BS- Some martial artists have gone on to write about their version of oldertexts
such as the book of five rings. Do you see writings from yourself about what
you have found in the Bible?
KF-Yes! Right now I have a book in progress, and I'm looking for a good editor.
BS-Have you discussed these philosophies with the religious heirachy? What
have they said about your views?Most clergy people have been very open, and
surprisingly, I've also bookedseminars for churches. There are a lot of people
interested in self-defense,and when I show them that it's perfectly OK with
God to know how to defend one's self, all the reasons not to go away. One thing
that I thought was interesting was that the pastor of a huge church in Colorado
wanted a"statement of faith"--basically, what my religious views are. I provided
himone, though I assured him that I wouldn't be "preaching" at all, but showinghistorical
passages and practicing in a hands on setting. After reading thesyllabus, he
was so enthusiastic about the seminar that he even paid for itdirectly rather
than me charging the participants!
BS- If a school owner would like to schedule a seminar, how can they getin
touch with you?
KF-Thanks for asking, Ben. I'm available by E-mail at: Frankenbgr@aol.com,
or at the Freedom School of Martial Arts 7659 N. Union, Colorado Springs, CO
80920 (719) 548-9559. I prefer to speak with potential seminar hosts by telephone
if possible, because we both have our schedule books open at the same time and
can figure out details much more quickly.
BS-Thank you very much for this explanation. I'm sure many people wouldlove
to know more about this extremely interesting seminar.
KF-Thank you for the opportunity!