September 16, 2018, Israel
In 1740 in Padua, Italy, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato wrote the following words as his introduction to "The Path of the Just".
"The author has stated: I have not composed this work to teach the son of man that which they do not know, but rather to remind them of that which is known already and in fact quite famously known. For you will not find in most of my words but matters that most people already know them and have no doubt about them whatsoever, but as much as these matters are known and as much as their truth is evident to all, so to is the neglect of these matters much found and the forgetfulness is great". (Path of the Just first page, translation by Moshe Katz)
And these same profound words I borrow today.
Today is a day of sadness in Israel for a great man was killed. He was a soldier in the Israeli army and fought and was injured in the Second Lebanon War, he was part of the local emergency and self defense team in his town, he was an articulate and well spoken advocate for Israel, he was a third dan black belt in karate. He was stabbed to death today.
In his memory and for the benefit of us all I wish to review some very important lessons, all of which can be borne out from this tragic story. Please note that none of what I am about to write is meant as a criticism of this man, God forbid, but simply reminders for us all of "that which is well known by us all and self evident as truth, and yet forgotten on a daily basis." God knows it could happen to even the best trained martial arts expert. No one is immune. However we must always strive to improve our level of preparedness.
What Can we learn?
Security camera footage from the scene showed the young man, dressed in black, standing behind Fuld (the victim) for nearly a full minute before striking. (The times of Israel, September 16, 2018)
Lesson: Situational awareness, Situational awareness, Situational awareness. No amount of training can compensate for lack of situational awareness. Yes, this is not as much fun as hitting the heavy bag or sparring but training yourself to constantly scan your environment is more important than any Krav Maga technique you can learn. Never let up, keep your eyes and ears open. Look all around you, all the time. Now please repeat this.
The terrorist was identified as a 16-year-old 'Palestinian' from the village of Yatta, near Hebron. (ibid)
Lesson: As I often say, a man with a blade is your physical superior. (Richard Ryan). It does not matter how fit you are, it does not matter how tough you think you are. We see in Israel again and again that the perpetrators are skinny little runts, even little girls. Never underestimate your opponent.
With a stab wound in the back he ran, drew his gun and fired before collapsing, just to make sure the terrorist would not continue to hurt others,
Lesson: Indeed this was heroic. However the gun did not prevent the attack.
Many people believe having a gun is all the defense that one needs. They do not train in Krav Maga because owing a gun is easier. Time and time again this has proven to be false. Not only is it extremally difficult to draw and accurately fire your gun on time, it is also most likely that it will not be a kill shot. The armed victim died, the terrorist was shot at least twice and now is recovering, being taken care of by your tax shekels and well trained Jewish doctors.
The Gush Etzion Junction and nearby shopping area, which are used by both Israelis and Palestinians, have been the site of several deadly terror attacks in recent years.
Lesson: Never let down your guard. Never think you are safe in a shopping area. If there are Arabs around....be careful. This has been the site of "several deadly attacks in recent years" and yet human nature is we tend to relax. Yes, it is difficult to be alert all the time, but look what happens when we relax for a moment.
The victim had a 3rd degree black belt in Tora dojo Karate
Lesson: He was a third dan black belt and a karate instructor, he taught 9 hours per week. What can I say? With survival training we focus on knife attacks, gun threats, machete and meat cleaver attacks. We believe in staying current. Never be content! Train to survive, not only to preserve an Asian tradition or pursue some spiritual goal. Is your training a hobby or a means of survival against brutal enemies?
Conclusion: We never know "for whom the bell tolls". At this time of year we ask God for life, and we wonder, who shall live and who shall die. But yet we must do everything, I repeat, everything in our power to stay alive. Situational awareness, Krav Maga training, not relying upon a weapon. We can never let down our guard, let this man's tragic death be a reminder to us all.
I know everyone is hurting and the tragedy is very great. But I have to ask, what would the victim have wanted of us now? Having read a great deal about him, and spoken to many who knew him, I would say he would not care for all the beautiful eulogies and praises being thrown his way, rather he would advocate practical action. Even as he was dying he chased, shot, and hit the terrorist.
So the news is filled with condemnation for the terrorist. and of course the Arabs are praising the great victory, but what are we doing? Is writing great eulogies enough? Is that what he would have wanted and done? No, he was a man of action, of decision. It is our obligation to carry on the torch, to learn the lessons and to train hard.
Do not wait for you do not know for whom the bell tolls.