Posted on 09 September 2008
by Moshe Katz
If you think of images of traditional Jewish leaders, a powerful warrior rarely comes to mind. Spiritual power and physical prowess are not seen as being fused into one person. However, the first Jewish martial arts instructor was actually the very first “Jew,” Abraham, as it is written “and he (Abraham) armed his three hundred and eighteen trained men, born in his house, and pursued [those who captured Lot] as far as the Land of Dan.” The great Biblical commentator, Ibn Ezra writes, “for he [Abraham] had trained them many times in the art of warfare, although it is not mentioned [in the text.]” (Bereshit Rabba 43)
Then there was Jacob, man of Spirit, and Esau, man of War. Jacob was a man of Spirit, but he was also a warrior. In fact, the modern Hebrew word for wrestler, “mitabek,” comes from Jacob’s fight with Esau’s angel, who appeared to Jacob in the form of a man. Bereishit tells us, “And there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” (Bereishit 32) Rashi explains that as they were wrestling, they kicked up dust with their feet. From the word dust (Avak), comes the word for wrestler.
As a Krav Maga (contact fighting)instructor, I have the honor of being the only 4th degree black-belt certified by Itay Gil, former trainer of the Yamam, Israel’s Special Police Unit and author of Citizen’s Guide to Stopping Suicide Bombers. The main purpose of Krav Maga training is practical self defense. We do kickboxing fights, ground fighting and aggressive knife defense drills. We learn that to defend yourself on the street in combat, you need a quick burst of very aggressive energy. For example, in the middle of knife training we will drop to do a set of push-ups and then turn over and do sit ups. Real life self-defense requires nohing less.
Throughout Biblical history our leaders combined spiritual strength with physical martial prowess. Our judges Samson, and Ehud ben Gerah, Deborah and Shmuel the prophets, were all warriors. Our kings, David and Saul were men of Spirit as well as master fighters. Our leaders were masters of the sword, the dagger, the sling shot, the bow and arrow and the spear. During our long and painful exile, some of our people have forgotten this part of the Torah. They have forgotten “to teach the sons of Yehuda the art of the bow.” (Samuel 2:18)
The nation of Israel was born in a struggle, and continues to be in such. Modern Krav Maga uses natural body movements to create techniques that are easy for the body to learn and retain and use in high-stress situations.
Posted in Featured, Health, September 2008