June 5, 2014
Moshe Katz, not a scary instructor. Here he is promoting Misti Garrett to Apprentice Instructor. She teaches children and youth in a friendly environment. We are not training bullies. We train for kindness.
I was teaching a class of third graders, little kids, eight year old Israeli boys and girls. It was many years ago...
I could not get control of the class. When I entered the room the kids were throwing all sorts of school supplies at each other. The home room teacher was meant to be there but....she figured she could catch up on some work and leave the classroom to me. But I could not control the class.
I called her in from her self-declared break. This tiny little Yemenite woman let out a yell. The class was beaten into fearful submission. She left the room, again, and you could hear a pin drop.
I took advantage of the quiet to ask the class a simple question, "Why will no one listen to me? Why is it necessary to call in the home room teacher? After all, this is meant to be a fun class, Krav Maga, no grades, no homework. Why does no one listen to me? Why is no one cooperating with me?"
At first no one would answer. They thought it was a rhetorical question but it was not. I really wanted to know.
Finally one little girl opened her mouth, "Because you are not at all scary Mr. Teacher".
How sad that kids would only listen out of fear. How sad that this is how they are being trained.
Fast forward many years.
Apeldorn, Holland, Krav Maga seminar. One of our instructors arrives from Germany with a student to be tested. She is nervous, she is making mistakes. Why? because of me. This is the first time she is meeting me and she is nervous. This is understandable. It is my job to help her relax, and learn Krav Maga.
By the second day she is fine. She sees that I am not one to be feared. I am here to teach, to guide, to help, not to intimidate.
But this is not the norm.
When I arrive at the home of my host, I later find out that as soon as I got out of the car the family members knew that this "grandmaster" was different from the others.
I am happy to say that they liked me. But then they told me how the other instructors whom they hosted in the past brought with them a totally different energy. The other instructors wanted distance, a false sense of respect, power, arrogance.
When we need to we can turn into ruthless fighters. We know how to fight, to hurt, to maim. But other than those situations that require such solutions, we try to be kind people, the type that no one fears, that type that puts people at ease.
Nadine came from Germany with her instructor, IKI second dan black belt Jurgen Kohler. You will not find kinder people. Jurgen works as a male nurse and he is kind and caring man. But when he needs to, when a patient pulls out a knife and goes crazy, Jurgen is always able to take control of the situation and protect the staff.
Gentle always, but tough in a fight.
Nadine and Jurgen, and Stephan enjoying dinner. Nice people but very very capable.
We are all here to learn. We are here to gain from the experience of the other. At every seminar I learn something. There are many who have more experience than me in certain areas. We share, we learn. We grow. We are not here to "pull rank" or act tough.
People come to Krav Maga because they are nervous. They come because they are afraid and lack confidence. And what do most instructors do? Scare them! Bully them!
Our task is to build people up, not tear them down.
We train to have the skills to fight back but we prefer the old Biblical saying.. A soft word turns back wrath. Or in a more modern form, Walk softly but carry a big stick.
You do not have to be a bully to be able to defend yourself.
This is how we are in Israel. Our heroes do not look like heroes, they do not look like Rambos, they look more like accountants. But put them in a combat situation and you will see the most courageous fighters.
Learn our story, required Krav Maga reading.
Israel: A Nation of Warriors By Moshe Katz
Over 250 pages, the history of Israel and the Jewish people as a fighting nation from the days of Abraham to our own times. The book covers the history and roots of Krav Maga and the modern Israeli Defense Forces. The book analyzes what makes Israeli security the best in the world.