Kata (John 6:35)

Sweat was dripping from my forehead as our group entered the second hour of training. The instructor was relentless and continued to bark his commands.


“Defensive maneuver 15!”


My hands were on guard and my thighs tensed into a horse stance. I turned to face an imaginary opponent approaching from my left. My two hands trapped my opponent’s right hand as I proceeded to punch his nose. I finished him off with a kick to the groin. Nicely done, I thought!


“You’re doing defensive maneuver 5! I asked for 15! Do it again!”




During my years of Kempo karate training, I attempted to learn dozens of kata or exercises. There were defensive maneuvers to ward off attacks from one or multiple opponents. There were knife defensive maneuvers, overhead club drills, drills to wrestle free from someone grabbing you-a kata to anticipate every attack and its permutations. Once one mastered these dozens of katas, one had to relearn it from a left-handed perspective!


Aaah..but that was the difficulty, mastering these kata. In a critical situation, I often panicked and relied upon one or two simple blocks and counterattacks, never putting together more than a few steps in spite of my knowledge of a far more extensive and elaborate repertoire. I was superlative against imaginary foes but always defeated when reality intervened. The kata never became second nature to me and this is why I failed. I did not desire it because I never felt as though my life was truly at stake.


Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

John 6:35 (ESV)


What about defending myself against spiritual attacks from Satan? I pray to God and read the Bible but unless I seek to apply God’s Word within every activity in my life, it will never become second nature to me. Like pursuing the learning of my kata, it will become a routine and rote memorization. God desires for me to be in a relationship with Him. He wants me to desire Him with the same fervor that I would seek food and water to survive.


My life, my very existence, relies upon following and completely receiving the grace and mercy that God offers but so often, God’s gifts are pearls before a swine like myself. I fail because of my weaknesses, not God’s!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


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