Documentary - Completed 2018

Threatened by the violent aftermath of Kenya’s 2017 elections, a fledgling Aikido sensei ponders whether his martial art can heal old wounds.

& Awards

Oaxaca FilmFest 2018
Official Selection
Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019
Market Selection
Pan African Film Festival 2019
Official Selection
Sedona International Film Festival 2019
Official Selection
National Geographic Short Film Showcase 2019
Official Selection
    • Year of production
    • 2018
    • Genres
    • Documentary, Martial arts, Art - Culture
    • Countries
    • USA
    • Languages
    • Duration
    • 12 mn
    • Director(s)
    • David HUTCHINSON
    • Producer(s)
    • David HUTCHINSON, Marli TAGUE
    • Synopsis
    • The Gospel of Combat follows Benedict “Sensei Ben” Kiyaga, a passionately eloquent yet endearingly self-conscious apostle of the martial arts, as he ekes a living from a handful of private classes. Along the way, Sensei Ben reflects on the application of martial art as spiritual practice, and shares how it helped him make sense of his multicultural identity amid extended tribal conflict.

      As Sensei Ben navigates the practical challenges of providing for his family, his personal journey is overshadowed by turmoil surrounding the 2017 presidential elections in Kenya. When the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta beats his challenger Raila Odinga, neighborhoods across Nairobi burst into protest, and the Kenyan Supreme Court declares the election results invalid. As protestors burn homes and clash with riot police, Ben observes that Aikido’s philosophy of nonviolent combat becomes increasingly poignant. Aikido seeks to understand the opponent; its techniques are designed as measured responses to aggressive energy. An Aikidoka will not initiate a confrontation; rather, he/she will receive the energy of the opponent's attack and redirect it, applying this energy to subdue without harming.

      “You have to understand what it’s like to be on the other side,” Sensei Ben said. “You’re in a combat scenario. Whatever the person brings in, it won’t make so much difference. You’re going to subdue it by accepting him as he comes to you.” Aikido offers much more than a fighting style: it outlines a path toward peace both within oneself and with one’s neighbors.