Back in the days of feudalism, a time that occured on both the East and West sides of the world at the same time, people developed systems of fighting arts that were directly linked to people's religious traditions.
In the East, there were Japanese ninja clans linked to Tibetan faiths, samurai families cast in the mold of Bushido, and of course, the famous Shaolin monks. But, the West also pursued physical and spiritual perfection in the Code of Chivalry practiced by the knights of England, France, Spain and Germany.
The knights of combat, both East and West, stood for the best that humanity had to offer in terms of strength of character and spiritual commitment. People knew that they could turn to these warriors to defend them against crime, to teach their children the values of martial discipline, and to perserve the peace.
Our modern day police forces have greatly replaced the role of the martial arts warrior monks and nuns. But, in this day and age, maybe it's time for the old ways to return, 21st century style!
The Order of the Mercy Apostles of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Face of Jesus, (MAHS), was founded on December 8th, 1996 in Idaho Falls, ID by Trimelda C. McDaniels, a pastor of a Christian Restoration Church. But, the roots of the Order go back to an earlier time.
Twenty-four years before, at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ms. McDaniels was teaching self-defense for women to the girls on campus. What she taught was a mixture of traditional Tae Kwon Do, Judo and Chicago styled street fighting.
As the years went on, after her graduation, Trimelda went on to study various arts such as Japanese Iga Ninjitsu, Indonesian Penjak Silat, Phillipine Escrima and American Kick Punch Karate. After achieving two instructor certification and a first degree black belt in three arts, Trimelda began to develop her own art which she called "Uzzijah Do" which means "The Way of God is My Strength".
This art was a direct outgrowth of her own spiritual quest and commitment as a member of the Catholic Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. After making private vows of celibacy in 1976, McDaniels renewed her commitment on May 13, 1981 at Saint Thomas Aquinas Church in Chicago, in front of witnesses.
"From then on, I felt that I was a nun of the people," she said. She began teaching under her name, Trimelda, "Warrior and Flower of the Trinity," a name given to her both by her mother and best friend in religious life, Sister Mary Lins FSPA. During that time, she taught religion, physical education and self-defense at inner city schools on the West Side of Chicago. The teachings of Uzzijah Do were shared with the homeless, prostitutes, teachers, nuns, street kids. She taught whoever needed to protect themselves in a neighborhood where crime was a physical reality.
Also during that time, Sister T, as she came to be called, had to use her art to defend herself and other people four times. People in the "hood" began to recognize her as the "Ninja Nun" and ask her to settle domestic disputes, protect property and act as a liasion between gang members. She added a acupuncturist certification from the MidWest School for the Practice of Oriental Medicine, plus training as an armed security guard to her arsenal of martial arts skills during that time also. Students could learn both healing and fighting techniques in the art. "I find that a good martial artist is a healer as well as a conventional warrior," Trimelda said.
The Mercy Apostles of the Holy Spirit
After moving to the West Coast and then to Idaho Falls, ID, Trimelda met Lee Duplessis O'Culley, a young mother who had an interest in learning more than just regular self-defense. "I wanted to know not only how to defend myself, but how to live better," she said. "Training in Uzzijah Do taught me both these things." Once she had achieved both a Green Sash and then a Red Belt, Lee asked about whether there would ever be a training school for women, not only in the physical techniques, but in the deeper spiritual values of the art. By that time, Trimelda was now "Pastor" T, the foundress of Christ Charismatic Liturgical Church, Inc., working with the women and children in the area. That question led to the development not only of a training school or dojo, but also the Mercy Apostles of the Holy Spirit.