Krav Maga Buyer Beware
By Moshe Katz
CEO
Israeli Krav International


December 13, 2018, Israel


Sacha Baron Cohen as anti terror expert and Krav Maga instructor, Hebrew on T shirt is written backwards, but no one picked up on this. 


We are warned "Buyer beware", we are told that "a fool and his money are soon parted'. But what if we want to be fooled? What if the wise man who warns us is seen as the enemy? As in the days of the Bible the prophet who speaks the truth is often mocked, ridiculed, ignored, or stoned to death. 

The trickster is as old as time itself, selling magic potions to cure all ills, the con man, the get rich quick schemer, and "a sucker is born every minute". 


The martial arts are no exception to this rule and I recall in the days when I purchased martial arts magazines that the advertisement section and in fact most of the articles, were filled with such deception. There were very few honest men amongst them. 

I recall the advertisements; fear no man. Purchase my DVD and you will be able to defeat your own teacher, he will be amazed at your new ability! or, walk the most dangerous streets alone at night and fear nothing. Learn suddenly revealed secrets from the ...Chinese Masters, former secret service men, undefeated street fighters or Red Bone Indian Chief. 

I think it should be illegal to advertise such things. 

Today we have the Tough Man image, the Bad Ass. And sadly many are using Krav Maga as their tool. I have already written about this extensively. There are the wannabe's, the guys who put on military fatigues, build up their muscles, walk around as if they are always muscle bound, and talk bad ass talk. They allude to battles they allegedly fought in and drop subtle "hints" to suggest that they were involved in all sorts of clandestine activities which they cannot talk about. (how convenient).

And there are many who are turned on by this. There are many men and women who want to be "near the glory", feel the flame and the heat. They would like to believe that the Bad Ass by definition is teaching a superior fighting system, after all, he looks the part.

They forget that in the film Rocky it was diminutive Micky (a Jew in the film) who trained Rocky Balboa to be the champion. The movie is fictional but the lesson is real. Pay attention. A good system is based on brains and logic, not brawn and stupidity.  


There are many who believe that if the instructor hurts you, then well, it must be a better system. If the instructor is a foul mouthed Bad Boy, then the system is superior. 

I recall at the T shirt factory in Tel Aviv, where we print our IKI Krav Maga T shirts, how instructors came in (from leading Israeli associations that I shall not name), and greeted the sweet marketing guy with "friendly" knee kicks, elbow strikes, head buts and accompanying insults. And these Neanderthals draw students from all over the world. 


Using the Image


There are many instructors out there today, who use this image to gain students. The wise avoid them like the plague.  A wise woman from Germany, a self defense instructor, wrote me the following today about one of the better known modern "tough guys".  

"I don’t know much about Name Withheld, but I am a studied psychologist and I do identify a narcissistic person. His way of promoting himself does not fit with me. But in Germany there is just starting a run towards Name of style withheld... “God blessed” ... but there is only one God in Name of style withheld...named Name Withheld,"

I do not know what this woman teaches but I do know that she can spot a fraud.


Enter The Cohen


Recently the famed and controversial British actor Sacha Baron Cohen did a great service to the Krav Maga community. He did not intend this and in fact is most likely unaware of it. (Perhaps this blog will come up on Google search and he will discover his great contribution). 

He came out with a series where he pretends to be an Israeli counter terror and Krav Maga expert named Erran Morad. The videos are very well done and in the opening scene of the first episode he is seen doing a classic (not our style) gun disarm. I wish I had his producer. 

He plays the part perfectly, but he is making a joke of all those who take him seriously in this role. He wears a T shirt with the words Counter Terror Academy in Hebrew but the letters are backwards. This is his way of telling those in the know that it is all a big set up, comedy, entertainment. But what he is exposing in this character is the real image and behavior of those instructors who use this image, not for comedy, but to sell their style. 

While Cohen fools and dupes the people in his show these Krav Maga instructors fool and dupe the general public. While Cohen entertains but embarrasses the people he chooses for his show, the "real" Krav Maga instructors are deceiving the public and teaching a faulty system of self defense, and this is far worse. 

Many famous Americans have been fooled by the antics of Cohen, who plays his part to perfection. But the Israelis are only baffled by how the Americans can believe this act. The answer is simple; they want to, and in fact they have been believing this act for a long time, that is why they chose to hire such people as their instructors. They abandon logic and chase the image, and it is this image that Cohen so successfully mocks in his new show. 

Cohen challenges them further by introducing crazy ideas such as arming toddlers, pretending to be Chinese tourists, using selfie sticks to photograph people's private areas, and other outrageous acts, but yet, people fall for it.

Yes, intelligent people fall for it, no matter how crazy Cohen gets. And why you may ask, well, I see plenty of nonsense being taught out there but people fall for the image and fail to properly analyze the content. They chose image over content. 


Sacha Baron Cohen as Israeli Krav Maga expert, Tough Guy, Bad Ass, the type that is sadly doing very well commercially in the world today.


Israeli Reactions to the Tough Guy Character


"ridicule for these Americans who have fallen for him.”


The reaction has mostly been astonishment about the accuracy of the portrayal. He really got some of our traits down,” Einav Schiff, a TV critic for the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, said with a chuckle. “Everyone here knows an ‘Erran Morad’ but I haven’t recognized any outrage or embarrassment about the character. It’s mostly been ridicule for these Americans who have fallen for him.”

Typically donning black boots, fatigues and a military-type sweatshirt with inverse Hebrew writing on it, Baron Cohen’s Morad character sports a scar in his bushy unibrow and speaks in heavily-accented, broken English peppered with Hebrew expressions and in a choppy cadence typical of Israel’s gruff military types. Though he is said to be a colonel, he sometimes refers to himself as a general, major or captain, or alternately someone who served in the shadowy Mossad spy agency." (Jerusalem Post, August 2, 2018)

Sometimes Cohen shows up dressed in a full Israeli military uniform and the insignia of a staff sergeant, even though he calls himself a colonel.


Israelis are "tickled"


It’s that type of lunacy that has mostly tickled Israelis. ..Cohen’s humor has also uncovered the fetishized version of Israel that many ...believe exists. 

Israeli gun laws are in fact quite stiff and most look at America’s obsession with weapons incredulously.

Such reasoning has raised some concern in Israel that others may be naïve enough to take Baron Cohen’s spoof literally.


Spot On


"Yes, your satire was outrageously on point and Col. Erran Morad was spot on. Still, bad enough that Israel gets demonized for the things it actually does, you have to go and make horrifying fake stuff up?” wrote Allison Kaplan Sommer, an English-language columnist for the Haaretz daily.

Satire or not, I’m afraid the American public is going to be left with the impression, that we are, in fact, gun fans when the truth is our gun control is a million times stricter than in the U.S.

Dor Hillel, a 26-year-old former Israeli soldier, said he found the gullibility so astounding it took him a while to figure out what he was watching.

Apparently these people are so naïve that they really think we are like that,” he said. “These Americans will believe anything.”

(Jerusalem Post, August 2, 2018)


Fetishization of Israel


The headline of the Israeli newspaper article read..

Sacha Baron Cohen exploits Americans' fetishization of Israel

'Who is America' shows how little some of Israel's biggest supporters know about the Jewish state." (Jerusalem Post, December 12, 2018)

Morad, tough talking IDF colonel and/or Mossad agent, on the T shirt the Hebrew words printed backwards..

this reveals more about the Americans (and Europeans) then about the Israelis

Americans show a fundamental misunderstanding of Israeli gun laws, no known Israelis endorse arming children. 

For a non IDF trained person it is nearly impossible to get a gun license, certainly not for multiple weapons or long guns.


He walks the walk, and talks the talk, but he is an actor. Sadly there are many "instructors" out there who do the same. They are also actors but the general public cannot tell the difference. Cohen in his new series openly mocks these people but even now they do not realize that they are the target of his mocking. 


Shai Ish Shalom (man of peace), Alan Mann, and Moshe Katz, this is what real Krav Maga and anti terror instructors actually look like. 


Conclusions


As I stated at the beginning, in the film Rocky you will be advised to choose the diminutive Jewish guy Micky as your coach, he has the skills and the ability to teach them. 

There is no correct "Krav Maga look". I am often told that I do not look like a Krav Maga instructor. That is like telling a black Jewish rabbi that he does not look Jewish. There is no one Jewish look, we come in all colors, sizes and shapes. Likewise there is no one "Krav Maga Look", we come in all colors, sizes and shapes. Only a fool judges a book by its cover.

When people tell me that I do not look like a Krav Maga instructor and that I am a gentle person, I thank them, and I tell them, "you see, our Krav Maga is for everyone, even you!

We believe Krav Maga must be suited for everyone's needs, including you, the reader. If you are ready to take charge of your life, we are ready to help you. 


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