Blackstone began his martial arts training in October 1978 under the direction of Kang Rhee and Earnest Carothers in the PaSaRyu Tae Kwon Do System. He earned his black belt on his 14th birthday and in December of 1986 he earned the rank of 5th degree master.
From 1978 until 1988 he trained in many different styles and weapons systems while operating a school with his dad, John Blackstone Jr., in Germantown, Tenn. On Jan. 18, 1987 he came to faith in Christ at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis.
"After accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord, I felt the need to give all my talents to Him to use for His glory," Blackstone said. "That included my martial arts."
Robert Blackstone's Karate Institute (RBKI), which operates out of Forest Hill Baptist Church of Germantown, Tenn., incorporates Scripture in the curriculum and belts are associated with the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. The school's patch is also a tract containing reference to John 3:16 and other Christian symbolism.
"A student Scripture booklet was created that provides the students with verses for memorization that are required with each belt rank," Blackstone said. "We also focus on a Christian character quality each month based on key verses in the Bible."
RBKI operates on a donations only system so that there is no financial limitations for families to train together. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday nights only to "guard participating families time," Blackstone said. "We truly want to see whole families train and exercise together in a wholesome, family-friendly, Christ-centered environment."
Another trait that sets the school apart from traditional martial arts training is the decision not to teach Eastern creeds that are often self-centered.
"We choose to give our allegiance and our devotion to Jesus Christ and His Word," Blackstone said. "Bowing is not practiced in class but taught as a rule of play' to students wishing to compete in open tournaments."
Despite philosophical differences with traditional martial arts, RBKI does teach a wide range of skills including basic and advanced blocks, kicks, stances, self-defense sets and a number of weapons.
"As far as the skills taught in our system, we feel that it often surpasses that which is offered in the mainstream commercial schools both in quality and quantity," Blackstone said.
The RBKI motto"Where Jesus is Master" also reflects its faith-based focus.
"Our purpose is to exalt the name of Jesus Christ," Blackstone said. "We do this through fun physical self-discipline while leading students into an eternal relationship with the living God."
As the ministry grows, Blackstone hopes to establish a demo team with students from RBKI and create an instructional video series with member testimonies and the plan of salvation on each volume.
"We plan to grow as the Lord draws people to Himself and to disciple each individual who comes to faith through this ministry," Blackstone said.
For more information, visit www.blackstoneskarate.com.