Old Hands
By Moshe Katz, Krav Maga Instructor, Israel

Sometimes there is a moment, an instant, a sight, a vision, a word, when everything changes, forever. You change.

As a child I was very picky. As a very young child I did not want any food that was touched by anyone other than my dear mother. I have this image, I was 5 years old, we had just moved to....Boston, or Medford, and some kindly neighbor made us sandwiches, as our kitchen was not yet set up.

I refused to eat it, the very thought repulsed me. I would wait until my own mother could prepare one for me. I can still see it.

Another image. Learning about the Shoah, the Dark Years, known as the Holocaust. Today it is taught differently, children are introduced to the topic gradually. Not in my day.

So I have this image, sitting on our tiny couch, all of us squeezed together, good thing we were all thin. Watching TV. A documentary about the Holocaust and survivors. I see this very old Jewish woman preparing dough for bread. Kneading the bread with her very old hands and I am thinking, goodness, I could never eat that.

And then, in an instant, everything changed, I changed, and this actually has ramifications on how I approach Krav Maga.

As I am fixated on those old wrinkly hands of a woman who I am sure is no longer among the living, I hear my dad's sweet voice, "I am sure it is delicious".

That was it.

I looked at dear Dad and saw a single tear coming down his face. So beautiful.

Perhaps he saw his own mother in this woman, or his grandmother, Grandma Katie Katz, perhaps he saw the survivors "of the camps". Perhaps he saw all those wonderful old Jewish ladies who made us delicious breads and pastries.

"I am sure it is delicious"

"You should have been born an old man" I was told one Passover. "You fit in so well with the old folks".

It is not old people, or young people, just people.

From that moment on that couch I began to see people differently. They are all beautiful, the old woman with the wrinkles, each wrinkle tells a story, each tear is an expression of love. Each person's aches and pains hints at a story, an experience, an adventure that you know nothing about. If you lucky, fortunate, perhaps they will share that story with you.

Each scar hints at a terrible story, each smile is the hope that refuses to die.

The number tattooed oh her arm tells of a terrible past, the smile on her face is the hope for the future.

I think of the Ghetto Fighters, those amazing young men and women who defied the odds and waged war against the Evil Empire. They were young and tough. But when we watch the interviews they are old and not at all "warrior like". But we remember that each and every one is a true hero, a true warrior.

I have been told by web professionals that my Krav Maga site is a "dinosaur". "Just look at the other leading sites", I am told, "See all the young beautiful people, sexy girls and well built muscular guys, photos changing every five seconds. Exciting captions. No one these days has the attention span to read your site".

Well, think for a moment. Our people, the old wrinkly people, are the true warriors, the true heroes. Our enemies believed they were the "master race", they believed in perfect looking people, they measured each person for the right nose size, the right ear size, they examined the color of their hair. (when you come on Tour and Train I will show you these photos and documents at Yad Va Shem Holocaust Memorial).

But the true Masters keep their beauty inside. Each person who comes to train in IKI Krav Maga, is welcome. All races, all sizes and shapes, all colors are welcome here. Each person has their own beauty.

I can still see those old wrinkly hands kneading the bread, those warm, loving, beautiful hands, and my dad saying, "I am sure it is delicious".

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