The knife did not make contact. Vincent Alvarez’s reflexes made sure of that. He and Jacob Baker were fighting on the golf course by the fitness center at The Master’s College again. Alvarez did not come to golf. He came to practice. Alvarez is a martial artist.
To those less familiar with this TMC Senior, he may be recognized as the kid who always wears yellow. If spotted on a Wednesday, onlookers may even see a stuffed Pikachu perched on his backpack.
“I remember watching a home video of me when I was three years old. My parents were recording me bowling,” Alvarez says. “I was wearing a bright yellow t-shirt, I had the bright yellow bowling ball… Honestly, me wearing yellow [has] just been something I’ve always done.”
As for the Pikachu, Alvarez wears it when helping out with the youth groups at Church of the Canyons.
“I wear that just as a way to kind of interact with the kids – just to make them laugh and smile a little bit,” Alvarez says.
Alvarez has been interested in martial arts for nearly as long as he has worn yellow.
“While most kids here at the college grew up watching VeggieTales… I grew up watching Jackie Chan movies and Power Rangers.” Alvarez says. “My dad had been trained before I was born for several years as he interacted with people throughout his military career. So he had a basic understanding of Filipino martial arts… some grappling, and kickboxing.”
Since starting to train with his father at an early age, Alvarez has stuck with martial arts throughout college and has picked up aspects of various styles of fighting from sources ranging from formal training to YouTube videos and intends to teach Kajukenbo once he has achieved the necessary belt.
Alvarez, a Bible major with an emphasis in Christian Education, believes that martial arts and Christianity should not be seen as incompatible.
“In my opinion, all men who call themselves men of God should learn at least a little bit of martial arts – at least basic kick-boxing… or boxing, if nothing else.” Alvarez says.
“Because a man who isn’t able to protect his family – or at least willing – isn’t a man in my opinion… And I’m not saying that just because I’m biased with martial arts. That’s a biblical mandate – men are to protect.”
For Alvarez, minimizing harm in a situation is a priority, both for those he is protecting and his enemy.
“When he goes into a fight, he’s not thinking that he wants to kill the fellow,” says Jacob Baker, a Biblical languages major who has been training alongside Alvarez since their freshman year. “He wants to disarm him and get out and he sees that as a good testimony.”
In addition to its defensive purposes, Alvarez views the discipline required in martial arts to be invaluable to other aspects of life, including his faith, and hopes to combine what he has learned in his major with his training as a ministry in the future.
“I think he’ll be a pretty good teacher,” Baker says. “Especially from a good Christian perspective.”
By Caleb Chandler