As we are starting our new Christian martial arts school, we have decided to let go of the eastern martial arts and take up western martial arts. There are several martial arts systems created in the western world and one of the most successful ones have been penned down by [[Fiore dei Liberi]] in his work [[Flos Duellatorum]] in which the foundation of his fighting art i based on the Segno.
When I look at the Segno, instead of seeing a clockwork progression or a hierarchy from down (earth) to up (spirit) I see Three earthly attributes surrounding a heavenly or spiritual attribute.
The key to this viewpoint is the heart. The lion is holding his paw upon a heart signifying it’s place in the diagram, that is in the middle. If that would be true then we could connect the elephant to the legs (balance and strength coming from the legs), the tyger to the arms (flexibility but most of all the speed of the attack coming from the arms) and finally the lynx to the head (the thought and reason of tactics in the brain and the vision, reading the battle to the eyes).
This would also give a natural progression in martial arts starting at the base (earth/legs) with balance and working your way up through speed to finally root itself in pure thought with tactics.
It would also then be true, which I believe any Christian modern or medieval would attest to, that the virtue of courage, or as I would then read it valor, is not something you train but it comes from above. Therefore it is no coincidence that the Lion, the King of animals, The lion of Judah, The triumphant lord is placed in the middle tying it all together. Prov 4:23 states “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” or in KJV “The issues of life springs from it.” ie. all the virtues… The bible also gives us this clue from Prov 28:1 as to how to become courageous “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion”
While becoming a master in your art will certainly give self confidence, that is not the same as valor, valor being the courage to do what is right, just and true.
The bible also states “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” Prov 21:31 we may train and become masters (and indeed we must endeavor to become as good as we possibly can, see Eccl 9:10) but in the end it is in Gods hand if we live or die on the day of battle.
From a spiritual point of view these are the virtues that will let us a victorious Christian life as well.
Fortitudo – I am the elephant I carry a castle in my care and I never fall to my knees or loose my footing.
The elephant signifies strength and balance, to never waiver or stray of the path (Prov 4:27). What we truly need as Christians is radical balance, we need to be radical about protecting the creation and radical in acceptance, we need to be radical in proclaiming the truth and standing strong against deception at the same time as we need to be radical in seeking the gifts of the spirit and diving deep into the mysteries of the divine.
Celeritas – I am the Tyger and I am so quick to run and turn, that the arrows from heaven cannot overtake me
The tyger symbolices speed and agility, in our Christian life me must never slow down and become complacent, We are in war and survival in enemy territory depends on mobility. (Prov 12:24, Rom 12:11)
Prudentia – No creature can see as clearly as I, the Lynx And my method is always with compass and proportion
The lynx symbolizes reason and tactics but also the ability to read the fight, to see further than anyone else, to discern the difference between a feint and a true attack. As Christians we are commanded to be wise (Matthew 10:16) and to count the cost (Luke 14:28) We need to be able to discern the intentions of the enemy (Heb 4:12) and be wise to know who is our enemy (Heb 5:14)
Audatia – None posesses a more ardent heart than the lion for I welcome all to meet me in battle
More than anything we need to have the heart of the Lion. We need to be courageous (Joshua 1:9) and unafraid. As good soldiers we need to welcome the fight and always be on the attack! But we have to recognize that [[valor]] comes from the Lord. It is because who He is that we can be bold as lions. (Rom 8:31). For he is the true Lion (Rev 5:5) The victorious, glorious Lion of Judah!