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Thread: Martial Arts & Religion

  1. #1186
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    First United Methodist Church

    Fort Walton Beach church offers faith-based taekwondo



    Posted at 9:21 AM
    Updated at 10:40 AM

    Fort Walton Beach First United Methodist Church offers a Martial Arts Ministry with biweekly taekwondo classes for children and adults.

    Dennis Barebo loves seeing the look on students’ faces when he changes the color of their belts.

    He loves watching their confidence grow when they break a board with their bare hand, lead a class or memorize a form, a movement pattern. Barebo, a sixth-degree master in taekwondo, started the Martial Arts Ministry at Fort Walton Beach First United Methodist Church in April 2008 so he could teach children and adults the true purpose of the sport.

    “Everybody thinks martial arts is all about punching and kicking,” Barebo said. “It’s not. Yes, it involves punching and kicking, but most of it is what’s behind the scenes — teaching people how to stand still, how to respect others, have self-discipline. That’s what it’s all about.”

    After 24 years as the church’s business administrator, Barebo was allowed to retire in May, but only under one condition: He had to continue his martial arts ministry. It continues to thrive more than 10 years later.

    Going to the mat

    When Barebo had the idea, he took it to the mat.

    He spent 2007 pitching the Martial Arts Ministry to church committees. The class started with 20 students in a small, carpeted classroom that couldn’t hold more than 15.

    Carpet wasn’t ideal.

    “By the end of the day, your feet would be killing you,” Barebo said. “We kept growing. People kept calling, and I never advertised. I had a waiting list of about two years.”




    11 a.m. - Adults

    4:30 p.m. - Mighty Tigers (ages 4-6)

    5 p.m. - Youth Black Belt Club (ages 7-11 of white, yellow and orange belts)

    5:45 p.m. - Youth Master Club (Ages 7-11 of green through black belts)


    Fort Walton Beach First United Methodist Church, 103 First St. SE, Fort Walton Beach


    For pricing and other information, contact Dennis Barebo at 850-585-8209 or
    The ministry expanded into two classrooms at the back of the church, but it needed more. The church offered a larger space, but with one problem: concrete floors.

    Again, not ideal.

    In 2015, Barebo wrote a grant proposal to The Ware Foundation that earned enough money to take his idea to the mat — a giant blue one, to be exact. Now more than 120 students and 15 volunteer instructors shuffle across that mat every week.

    The ministry serves all ages, starting with the Mighty Tigers group of ages 4 to 6 and ending with adults as old as in their 80s. It even has its own newsletter, the Kick’n Times, to keep people up to date on taekwondo news, facts and events.

    When Barebo started taekwondo in the 1980s through the American Taekwondo Association, he never thought this is where he would be.

    “When I was coming up through my taekwondo training, I told my instructor, ‘I don’t want to deal with little kids,’” Barebo said. ”‘They drive me crazy.’ It turns out, the 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds are great because they love the fact that you sit down and talk to them and have an adult conversation with them about their day.”

    Some parents are apprehensive when they first see their children in martial arts.

    “The parents are like, ‘Oh, my gosh, my kids will never sit still,’” Barebo said. “Give ’em time. Watch the kids who have done it for five or six years. You watch a kid who starts at age 4, and by the time they’re 10, they’ve been doing martial arts for half their life. It’s ingrained in them. Those are the kids you see who stand and go, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ ‘Yes, sir.’ They’re very polite. They change. That’s what’s exciting — to watch the positive changes martial arts has on people.”

    ‘God’s always watching’

    Sports are expensive.

    Martial arts are especially financially demanding because athletes train 12 months a year, Barebo said.

    “There’s a lot of families that can’t afford it,” Barebo said. “We started this ministry so that anybody who wants to be part of a martial arts program can do it.”

    Barebo intentionally made the class affordable. Dues go toward paying for belts and student events, such as bowling and pizza nights. The students are a mixture of church members and non-church members.

    “A lot of parents like it because it’s hosted by a church, so they feel like it’s a safer environment,” Barebo said. “They like the fact that it’s a Christian-based program.”

    The students learn taekwondo, self-defense and character traits. Being hosted in a church gives the class a different atmosphere, Barebo said.

    While not every class incorporates Scripture, Barebo will use it as a foundation during “mat chats.” In a recent one, he used Colossians 3:20, which refers to children obeying their parents.

    “I said, ‘If you respect your mom and she says, “Don’t eat the cookies,” and she bakes all these cookies and you decide to take one, what happens when you take it?’” Barebo said. “I said, ‘Who’s gonna see it?’ God’s always watching. You might pull one over on mom, but you’re not going to pull one over on God.”

    Pastor Dave Barkalow thinks the ministry teaches important lessons, citing a phrase Barebo says at every belt test.

    “He says, ‘Actually, a black belt is a white belt who didn’t give up,’” Barkalow said. “I think that’s such a great lesson for our students to push through adversity.”

    If there’s one thing the class isn’t about, it’s violence. He teaches students to fight so they never have to, Barebo said.

    “Come to a class,” Barkalow said. “You will see pretty quickly this is not about beating people up. This is about being mentally fit, physically fit and caring and having good character, common sense.”

    ‘One-stop shop’

    Taekwondo was supposed to be for Pamela Moyer’s son, Ty.

    When the Destin resident enrolled him during preschool, she admits it turned into something for her. Moyer has gone for 10 years and is now an instructor.

    “It definitely surprised me,” Moyer said. “It’s cathartic. If you ever have a problem, you talk about it with your colleagues, other people there, as you’re still learning and getting exercise. It’s a one-stop shop.”

    Taekwondo taught her she was capable of so much more than she thought.

    “It helps you explore that, that you can do more than you think you can achieve — whether it’s breaking a board or memorizing a form,” Moyer said. “You can reach your best potential among friends, because it’s such an encouraging environment.”

    Three of Barkalow’s children are in the Martial Arts Ministry: Rosie, 8, Michael, 6, and Xavier, 5. Taekwondo has had the greatest effect on Rosie, who Barkalow said is the shy and reserved one.

    “She’s tried other sports, but she never found her thing,” Barkalow said. “When she found taekwondo – it’s her thing. She’s at home practicing her forms, working on her push-ups. She has me here for the special practices.”

    Two months ago, Barebo named Rosie one of the junior instructors to help lead the preschool students.

    “It’s been the highlight of her year,” Barkalow said. “It’s been so good for her self-esteem, her confidence, her activity level.”

    Barebo won’t take credit for the ministry’s impact. He points to a photo of the other instructors, and attributes it to their volunteer work.

    He is the rock, though, Moyer said.

    “He has been so generous with his time, energy and giving — that to me is a great leader slash instructor,” Moyer said. “Having such a strong instructor has carried me through all these years and makes me want to keep coming back.”
    Taekwondo + Nunchuks.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #1187
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Robert Eng III and the New Life Family Worship Center

    I admire his trash recycling.

    Kings Mountain pastor turns martial arts skills into ministry
    A hurt, angry little boy Walking in their shoes
    Dustin George
    The Shelby Star

    Robert Eng III serves as the lead pastor at New Life Family Worship Center in Kings Mountain.
    Robert Eng III has a way with trash. More aptly, he has a knack for turning someone else's trash into his own brand of treasure.

    Lead pastor at New Life Family Worship Center in Kings Mountain, Eng has over the last 20 years built a church out of scraps wherever he could find them.

    "This building was in the weeds in Chester, South Carolina. A church had bought it and didn't put it up. Weeds and vines and everything had grown up, and we had to get chainsaws to get it out," said Eng.

    The canopy over the church entrance? That came from a service station in Kings Mountain, set atop a pair of handmade stone columns. The doors to the church sanctuary were salvaged from a nearby hospital going through a renovation several years ago, as was most of the fluorescent lighting now used inside the building.

    Nearly every appliance, most of the furniture, pieces of tile and even doorknobs of New Life Family Worship Center are salvaged goods.

    Turning things or people no one else could or would otherwise want into something with purpose is Eng's thing. Probably, he says, because he knows what it feels like to be broken and unwanted himself.

    A hurt, angry little boy

    The son of a teenaged single mother, Eng was raised in an old sharecropper's house in the Bethlehem area. At around the age of 5, he started taking karate, and he excelled.

    "I was this hurt, angry little boy. Anybody that got in my way -- I wasn't a bully -- but I wanted to hurt them," said Eng.

    As he got older his skills led him to the Army, where he continued to train and eventually started organizing and participating in tough man contests -- letting people hit him or kick him as hard as they could for extra money.

    Eng's skills carried him back into civilian life and he opened a number of martial arts training schools, where he trained championship-winning athletes.

    "That testosterone macho John Wayne or Rambo mentality, only the strong survive and that sort of thing, that was my forte," Eng said. "I've been there, I've done it and I've seen it. I laid it all out on the bed, and there was still a hole. I had to ask myself, what is it for?"

    So Eng decided to take things in a different direction. He resolved to take the skills he'd learned over a lifetime of fighting and hurting himself and others and put it to some good.

    Walking in their shoes

    Eventually, he did. And in 1998, he began work to plant New Life Family Worship in Kings Mountain, where he could go on to help others like him.

    "I was angry. I was bitter, and I had an authority problem," he said. "And a lot of people are the same way. They have been discarded, and they feel that same way."

    Since starting New Life Family Worship, Eng has made a point to look for people other churches won't take and reaching out to them as ministry.

    "I'll take a group of child molesters to IHOP, and I'll just talk to them," he said. "Many of them want to come and do right, but no one will give them a job, no churches want them. It's hard. I tell them I am willing to give you that chance, but we are going to watch you, and you have to communicate with us."

    Over the last 20 years Eng has built a roster of associate pastors for his church, many of whom were once like him, angry, hurting and just in need of some love. Thanks to the skills he spent a lifetime learning, he says he's found ways to connect with them and help them turn around into someone able to benefit their community.

    "If you've walked in those shoes then you have a story. (The Bible) says, 'They overcame by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony,' he said. "Everybody has a testimony in their life and God wants to use where you've been and what you've done to communicate and to benefit what you've done."

    Dustin George can be reached at FInd him on Twitter @DustinLGeorge.

    Want to go?

    New Life Family Worship Center

    428 Oak Grove Road, Kings Mountain


    Service times

    Sunday: 10:30 a.m. Worship service

    6:30 p.m. Worship service

    Tuesday: 6:30 p.m. Bible study

    Wednesday: 6:30 p.m. Adult service, Youth service and Children service

    *Nursery is available for Sunday and Wednesday services
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  3. #1188
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    ttt 4 2021

    Faith: Classes at Endwell Church of Christ mix martial arts with Bible lessons
    Connie McKinneySpecial to Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

    Students punched the air, kicked and blocked punches as they practiced martial arts in an Endwell basement recently.

    They could have been part of any martial arts class — with some exceptions, such as students starting class with prayer.

    Welcome to Curry’s Progressive Martial Arts, held twice a week in the basement of the Endwell Church of Christ. Tamika Curry, a fourth-degree blackbelt who is married to the church’s pastor, David Curry, teaches the classes, which incorporate several martial arts, including Aikido, Judo and Jujitsu.

    Classes are open to students 4 years old and up, including adults. This is her fifth year teaching at the Endwell church, although she’s been practicing and teaching martial arts for 28 years.

    “Most martial arts teach philosophy,” including self-control, patience and discipline, said Curry, known as Miss Tamika to students. Martial arts are similar to Christianity.

    “Christianity makes our martial arts better,” she said. “Martial arts makes our Christianity better. They blend into each other.”

    From left, J.D. Wojnar, Jared Hartwig and his older brother, Caleb Hartwig practice punches during Curry’s Progressive Martial Arts at the Endwell Church of Christ. The program blends the traditional practice of martial arts with prayer, a lesson about the Bible and the memorization of Bible verses.
    Each class features a “mat chat” where students pause, sit in a circle and learn about a moral from the Bible. During a recent class, Curry compared jigsaw puzzles with the many elements that make up Christians.

    “As Christians, we should love God and love our neighbors,” she said. “We should be reading our Bibles. We should be praying. We should be helping others. If you’re missing some of those things, does that make you not a Christian? No. But you’re missing some things.”

    Just like all martial arts classes, students work on earning different colored belts by performing martial arts skills. But to earn a belt at the church program, students also must memorize and explain Bible verses, Curry said.

    Each belt level has a character trait based on the fruit of the Spirit, she said. For example, a white belt is based on the fruit of love, and the accompanying Bible verse is John 3:16.

    J.D. Wojnar, left, practices a karate move with Kaelyn Hartwig as her brother, Caleb Hartwig, looks on. The students take classes at Curry’s Progressive Martial Arts at the Endwell Church of Christ.
    J.D. Wojnar, 15, who takes the class with his sister, Josie; and mother, Julie; said he’s learned a lot from the classes.

    “I am learning how to respect my parents and be more diligent in my work,” he said. “Since I have joined, I have been more diligent in helping around the house and keeping it cleaner.”

    His mother, Julie, is currently the only adult in the class.

    “It’s challenging at times,” she said. “I have to work a little harder than the kids."

    Jared Hartwig, 14, who takes classes with his older brother, Caleb; and younger sister, Kaelyn; said he was drawn to the classes because he likes sports.

    “It’s definitely good physical exercise,” he said. “But we are given things to think about. We are learning morals, too.”

    In August, the class celebrated its first black belt: Seth Whitbeck, 18. He is away at SUNY Morrisville, where he is a freshman and was unavailable for an interview. But his mother, Michelle Whitbeck, said the program benefitted him in many ways.

    “Learning control of body and mind helped him growing up,” she said. “It gave him focus.”

    Seth keeps the black belt on a desk in his dorm room, his mother said. The belt inspires him and reminds him of what he’s learned from the classes, including perseverance, focus and being a good Christian.

    Endwell Church of Christ

    The Rev. David Curry serves as pastor of the church, at 3600 Country Club Road in Endwell. Sunday services are held at 10:30 a.m. For more information about the church, go to its website at or find the church on Facebook.
    I guess we get one or two of these per year now...
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  4. #1189
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Father Guy Roberts

    With martial arts, priest helps students make body, mind, soul connection

    Father Guy Roberts instructs Atlas Jackson, a student at St. Barnabas School in Indianapolis, in taekwondo March 9, 2022. Father Roberts, a black belt in taekwondo, is pastor of St. Barnabas Parish. (CNS photo/John Shaughnessy, The Criterion)

    By: John Shaughnessy

    Date: April 21, 2022

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — Watching Father Guy Roberts lead children in a martial arts class with a distinctly Catholic emphasis, it’s hard to decide what to focus on first.

    There’s the sight of the 54-year-old priest, a black belt in taekwondo, spinning and unleashing a whirlwind kick of controlled power that leaves the suddenly wide-eyed boys and girls in awe.

    There’s the angelic smile of 11-year-old Elroy Jackson, one of the 35 grade school students who train with Father Roberts, as he shared the news that he has broken wooden boards in half.

    And there was the look of pure joy on the face of Claire Jackson — mother of five, including Elroy, a black belt herself and an assistant instructor — as she explained one of the special reasons she loves having her children participate in taekwondo.

    “They stay active, and it wears them out,” she said with a wide grin. “They go to bed at night and fall asleep, instead of laying there asking me questions.” Her smile grew even wider as she added, “It’s beautiful.”

    The impact of the Monday and Wednesday afterschool sessions also is powerful for the participating students at St. Barnabas School in Indianapolis, including the way it has deepened their connection with Father Roberts, their pastor.

    “One of the reasons I like doing this is because it helps the children to see me as a priest outside of just liturgical celebration,” Father Roberts told The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. “There’s much more of a familiarity with me. When they see me out on campus, they’ll say hello to me. And they’ll come up to me after Mass and say hello.”

    Fifth-grader Elroy offers a more succinct view of the bond between Father Roberts and his young taekwondo students. Asked what he thinks of the priest, Elroy flashed another smile and said, “He’s awesome!”

    Father Roberts hopes the martial arts lessons also will help the children grow personally in certain qualities and even be a way to deepen their faith and their relationship with God. He had all those goals in mind when he started his own taekwondo school called Taijido Kwan.

    The priest’s approach to his classes includes an emphasis on taekwondo’s precepts — integrity, self-control, indomitable spirit, perseverance and courtesy. There’s also the foundation of the Catholic faith, tying in the Ten Commandments to the lessons.

    “Sometimes, I’ll ask them, ‘What do you think the First Commandment is all about — having no other gods?’ Then they have to reflect on it,” he said. “I want their taekwondo practice to be more than just kicking and punching. It’s about how they conduct themselves in life.

    “So, we talk about things like, ‘You shall not kill’ and ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ I just like to get the feedback from them, what do they think these things mean. I ask them, ‘How do we live these things out?’ It’s interesting the answers I get.”

    Barefoot and wearing a white martial arts uniform, just as the children do, Father Roberts starts each lesson with a prayer. Then he moves the children into a warm-up routine that includes 25 jumping jacks, pushups, stretches and rotations of the hips, knees and neck. During stretches, he touches his palms on the floor without bending his knees.

    In doing pushups, he finishes a set of 20 with the children by clapping his hands on the way up between each of the last few pushups.

    Together, instructors and students focus on doing the standard movements of taekwondo, followed by working on the proper forms for kicks and flips, and later learning the best way to defend yourself against two opponents.

    Father Roberts is at the heart of it all, working up a sweat, his face turning ruddier as the class progresses. And he offers constant praise and encouragement.

    “I want to build confidence, self-respect, discipline, respect for others, the ability to know that if they apply themselves, they can accomplish practically anything in life,” he said.

    “Recently, we’ve been doing a lot of running jumps, and the children are amazed that they can actually accomplish some of these things,” he said. “I always tell them their biggest opponent in life is themselves. If they can overcome themselves, they can overcome about anything.”

    This is his first year as pastor at St. Barnabas Parish. Previously, he taught taekwondo to schoolchildren during his 15 years as pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis.

    There he saw how the lessons helped increase the respect, self-discipline and even the grades of many children in the program. In some cases, it changed lives even more dramatically.

    “There’s one boy who’s now in the Navy running the nuclear reactor on a submarine,” Father Roberts said. “He was very, very shy and quiet. Taekwondo was about the only sport he did. He stayed with it all the way until he went into the Navy.

    “I’ve seen it help them achieve some things that maybe they wouldn’t have had the confidence to achieve if they hadn’t challenged themselves through taekwondo.”

    It also changed the priest’s life when he was 7.

    As a kid, he first became involved in taekwondo because of a 1970s television show called “Kung Fu.” From watching the show, his parents looked at their reserved son and thought it would be good exercise for him and increase his confidence.

    A self-described “spiritual kid,” he also saw something spiritual in martial arts. Yet a year after he started the sport, he was seriously injured as a passenger in a pickup truck that was struck by a train near his family’s home in Brownsburg, Indiana.

    Both his legs and ankles were broken in the crash, and it was more than a year before he could run and play again.

    He drifted away from martial arts, but his interest in developing his spirituality continued to grow through the years. Even though he was raised a Baptist, he started thinking about becoming a Catholic priest when he was a freshman at Butler University in Indianapolis. He has been a priest in the archdiocese since 2005.

    He also developed a renewed interest in taekwondo as an adult.

    When he was in his mid-40s, a doctor told him that considering the extent of the damage he suffered to his legs as a child, Father Roberts should have been relying on a cane to walk by that point in his life. Instead, he continues jumping and unleashing whirlwind kicks.

    “This has been a blessing for me,” he said about the strength, balance and flexibility he has gained from practicing taekwondo. “It’s kept me young.”

    For adults in the parish, he leads a class in tai chi on Saturday mornings at St. Barnabas.

    People need to work to take care of the body that God has given them, as well as strive to develop the mind and “having that proper spirit,” Father Roberts said.

    “There’s something about this kind of cultivation through martial arts that helps us have an appreciation for that which is larger than ourselves,” he said. “In our case as Catholics, we understand that to be God.

    “Much of the martial arts world is either Buddhist or Taoist, coming from Asia, but we have that whole Christian connection with Jesus Christ. Who is in better shape than Jesus Christ? He knew how to take care of his body, his mental health, his spiritual health.”

    Father Roberts flashed a smile and added, “Maybe if Jesus were at St. Barnabas, maybe he’d do taekwondo and tai chi with us.”

    – – –

    Shaughnessy is assistant editor at The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
    Red Clap Kicker Target
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  5. #1190
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Roberson Douge

    Florida pastor, who’s also a mixed martial arts master, arrested for alleged sex abuse of teens
    By Selim Algar
    September 22, 2022 7:48pm Updated

    A Florida pastor was arrested this week for allegedly having sex with two teen girls he met through his church and kung fu dojo, according to a police report.

    Roberson Douge, 42, was booked into Brevard County jail Thursday after the alleged victims contacted police this week and accused him of predatory sexual behavior.

    Douge serves as a pastor at Apostolic Church of Christ, and also owns the Tiger Claw Kung Fu Academy in Palm Bay, according to police papers.

    Cops said one of the girls told her friend she was troubled by her relations with Douge, prompting the other to recount a similar experience with him.

    Neither victim has been named because they are both under 18, but one victim told investigators she first met Douge after her family moved to Palm Bay and joined his church in 2019.

    The teen, whose age was not specified, told police she often spent time with Douge’s family and he would engage in sexual activity with her while driving her back to home.

    The second victim said she volunteered at his martial arts studio and they had relations in various places inside the location.

    Florida pastor and martial artist Roberson Douge was arrested for allegedly having sex with two teenagers he met through his church and kung fu dojo.
    Brevard County Sheriff's Office
    One of the teens told police that she confided to her boyfriend about the relationship and that he urged her to contact police.

    Both teens eventually called cops, who set up a controlled call with Douge between week with one of them.

    The pastor begged the girl not to tell anyone about his misconduct and apologized repeatedly.

    Douge now faces 10 counts each of sexual battery on a victim between the ages of 12 and 16 and sexual battery on a victim between the ages of 16 and 17 by an offender older than 24.
    The Tiger Claw Kung Fu Academy in Palm Bay is not connected to our Tiger Claw

    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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