Friday, April 25, 2014


FIGHT CHURCH introduces you to a number of Christian pastors who also happen to enjoy practicing mixed martial arts. These men (one of them known as "The Pastor of Disaster!") have made their fighting an integral part of their fellowship, creating church fight clubs and gyms where they train others in MMA and teach lessons of Christianity. Reconciling the teachings of the Bible with the brutal physicality and violence of cage fighting might seem impossible to most, but these men find no inconsistency or issue. They quote scripture in support of beloved warrior kings and the mission to use one's God-given gifts in his name.

Paradoxical? Listen to these men, watch them train, preach, and fight, and try to decide for yourself. They are not all the same, but they are all interesting characters (who could probably coerce you into tapping out in seconds). Maybe one or two are legitimately a bit frightening. The movie doesn't make a call on rightness or wrongness of this mix of open hand and closed fist, that's up to you. See it if you can—it plays again on Saturday at 6:30pm at the Somerville Theatre. It's a well-crafted and thought-provoking watch.

* Note that director Bryan Storkel will lead a post-screening Q&A at the Saturday show!

While the movie pushes in to meet each of these holy ass-kickers, it also pulls out to introduce other figures who have a very different relationship with MMA: political and religious leaders involved in the battle over legalizing professional MMA fighting in the state of New York. The film does an excellent job of keeping the portrayal of MMA fighting even handed, speaking to lovers, supporters, and opponents of the phenomenon (one man's sport, another man's dehumanizing violence) as well as showing us the faces of those involved in the fights themselves at an intimate scale, the fighters—pros, amateurs, and children, their family, and the fans and congregations who watch.

It's pretty F'd up. See it!
NPR "Only A Game" host Doug Tribou moderates the Q&A with pastor-fighters Paul Burress and Preston Hocker, and FIGHT CHURCH directors Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel
The IFFB screening tonight was the world premiere of the film! The directors and two of the "stars" attended and held post-show Q&A. I'll try to do a follow-up ramble with more on that sooner rather than later.

Keep on keepin on~

P.S. I was debating whether to see this film or TRAP STREET last night and hafta admit that it was the Colbert Bump that nudged me to FIGHT CHURCH. Thanks, Dr. Colbert! WristStrong!

1 comment:

Josh Boyd said...

MMA is a fully sanctioned, highly regulated, international professional sport that features skilled martial artists and elite athletes many of whom have competed at the collegiate and even Olympic level! There is a big disconnect between the fight community and the Faith community and that makes for an interesting film. However, anyone who is educated about this sport would have no moral objection to it. I am a full-time MMA Chaplain much like you would find in every other pro and semi-pro sports. I interact with MMA athletes and coaches on a daily basis and I can assure you that MMA is about competition, not blood lust, brutality, violence or any of the other nonsense portrayed by the media. There is next to no ill will or hard feelings between the athletes. On the contrary, there is an amazing mutual respect that stems from the martial art tradition. I would love to discuss this further with anyone interested. You can contact me Grace & Peace!