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Every week about 30 people, some as young as age 4, visit Providence Christian Reformed Church in Cutlerville, Mich., to attend Spirit Moves Christian Karate.

“Our philosophy is that [karate] isn’t just about punching and kicking—it’s about the person that you become,” explained member Marylu Dykstra, who teaches the class with her husband, Rick.

Dykstra became involved in karate when her son joined a class in first grade. She and her husband now have fourth-degree black belts.

(L-R) Sam Klaassen, 7; Zane Quartel, 7; and Natalie Christians, 8, learn a new move at Spirit Moves Christian Karate.

Ryan Struyk

Andy Hoekstra, 20, sees karate as “an all-encompassing lifestyle, rather than an activity.” Hoekstra has been involved in karate for seven years. “You start learning how to take something that you do in life and look at how it affects your lifestyle—how does this affect my faith and interactions with others?” he explained.

Taylor Freund, 18, has been studying karate since she was 6 years old. “I value the diligence that it requires,” she said. “It teaches you leadership.”

“What makes us different from typical karate schools is that we really build mutual respect and work together in a very loving atmosphere,” said Dykstra.

Dykstra focuses on reiterating the basics of karate to her students. “You teach [the basics] over and over again so they become a part of who you are. It’s similar to the path of following Jesus Christ—it needs to be an integral part of who you are.”

Several people have become members of Providence since first attending the karate classes.

“It’s an amazing, wonderful ministry,” said Rev. J. Barrett Wernlund, pastor of outreach for Providence. “It seems like there are new kids every time I come in to do a devotion.”

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