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Joliet church adds spiritual element to martial arts

In its simplest form, martial arts is a program rooted in self-defense at its core.

For Sam Murphy, pastor of Family Bible Church in Joliet, it also has a powerful connection to God.

“I have a background in martial arts and contact sports, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed,” he said. “The thing about martial arts is typically while you have character development and those kind of components in it, there is a faith component that you don’t have there. So, what I wanted to do was create a program that would be beneficial for self-defense, for health fitness, but also help a person build the spiritual component in their lives, as well. So, that’s very important to me, as well.”

To satisfy this aim, Murphy serves as the lead instructor of Christ-Centered Combat, a non-profit organization founded two years ago.

“I believe [the marital arts program] creates a holistic growth,” Murphy said. “You’re getting all of the parts of the person.”

At the Judson Memorial Campus, Murphy teaches TaeKwonDo and a system called Combat Hapkido, both of which he holds second-degree black belts in. He is a certified instructor by the International Combat Hapkido Federation.

Murphy said he received his training through TM Martial Arts in Joliet, and he has been practicing both of these systems for years.

“I started in 2005 full time doing this training,” he said. “I’ve just been doing that ever since.”

Participants meet up for classes at the Judson Memorial Campus, located at 2800 Black Rd., in Joliet.

“We retained pretty much everyone,” Murphy said, referring to the recent change in location.

Murphy said the people who attend the classes have shown a great commitment to the program, and they’re happy to be involved, as long as they can keep training.

Murphy donates his time to help make the program possible for members of the community.

There are other moving parts that make the classes function the way they do, as well.

“I have students, and [I’m] bringing them along,” Murphy said. “They are assistant directors, and they help. They’re the older ones that I’ve known for a long time. There’s some that I’ve for 10, 15 years. [They’ll] help me work with kids in the kids program.”

Murphy said the volunteers are very “helpful.”

“It’s good leadership training,” he said.

Murphy said martial arts has had a powerful way of bringing him and his family together.

“My wife is in our Tai Chi program,” Murphy said. “Because we do Tai Chi, as well. Tai Chi is great for all ages and backgrounds because it is largely non-contact and it’s a much slower pace. … I have a couple brother-in-laws that are in the [Christ-Centered Combat] program and my niece also who is one of the helpers/assistant directors.”

Murphy wanted it to be clear what separates his classes from similar type programs.

“One of the things that is unique about this program and is very beneficial that because it is faith-based, because it is a non-profit, because [it] is essentially in some ways ministry, it affords people the opportunity to also get some discipleship,” Murphy said. “Discipleship is about lifestyle, it’s about living in a way that honors and glorifies God, introduces Jesus Christ to other people. So, this program helps people get some structure in their lives, helps them get some discipline, and those are all key components to growing as a believer of Jesus Christ.”

The program enables participants to get into a routine, with classes held a couple days out of the week every week. On Wednesdays, kids ages 7 and older meet up at 10 a.m., and teens/adults begin their training at 11 a.m. An all-ages class takes place Saturdays at 6 p.m.

To participate in the program, the cost is $20 a month, and the first two classes are free.

For more information, visit or call 815-342-3538.

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