What You Are, What You Have
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

October 26, 2014

Many people contact IKI with the goal of obtaining a prestigious Krav Maga rank.

Their first questions concern how long it will take to "get" a rank or what we expect of them in order to obtain a rank.

Many want a rank guaranteed before joining, and many simply want to exchange their current rank from another associations for ours.

Of course all these people are turned away from IKI and rejected. We are not interested in such people.

Others join and try to impress me with their resume consisting of more ranks than anyone can earn in one lifetime. I try to act "polite" but honestly I am just acting.

I have seen great beginners and I have seen great masters. I have also seen new members with very impressive credentials but very poor performance. I do not know how you obtained your other ranks, I only care about your ability to do our style.

Now and then I am pleasantly surprised. There is a high ranking Karate instructor in Florida. He humbly joined our association without any demand for rank. As he learned the IKI Krav Maga techniques he absorbed them quickly because he related them to traditional moves he already knew quite well. Often after seeing an IKI move he will say "that is a...some Japanese term" and relate to it perfectly. It is always great to know that "the song remains the same" and great martial arts connect.

In his case his previous knowledge helped him not only learn our style quickly but appreciate it that much more.

His other ranks have value because they come with real skills. In fact I have gained a greater appreciation for traditional Karate after watching him learning IKI Krav Maga.

Sadly many other Karate "masters" left me deeply disappointed.

In my mind it is not what ranks you have but what you gained along the way. Have you really learned any skills while covering your wall with diplomas and trophies?

Billy Joel, talent never fades. Skill is always in style.

I have loved Billy Joel's music for a long time, but I never knew much about his personal life or financial status.

I recently read that he lost a great deal of money through mistakes, bad divorce agreements, women and corrupt managers. But yet he made a huge financial comeback and, Thank God, is doing very well now.

But how did he do it?

No quick tricks, no gimmicks. It is actually quite simple. I will borrow a line from the film "Yental"

"There are some things that no man can take away, no wave can wash away, no wind can blow away. And now they are about to be mine."

Billy Joel has talent, and skill, And character.

You can steal his money but you cannot steal his talent. So when you have skill you can always make a living. So he just goes back on the road, back on stage, just like he started years ago... and he performs. "Sing us a song..." And we love his music and we love his character.

As long as you have skill you can work. He gets on stage and he performs his great songs and the crowd comes in to hear the piano man. The one and only.

No one cares if Billy Joel has a degree in music. No one is looking at his resume. The man can sing, he can play the piano and he writes great songs. He can give us a reason to smile.

No one cares if he ever attended university. And that's the way it is.

A younger Billy Joel, sing us a song, you're the piano man.

Your martial arts diplomas can get lost, get destroyed by a flood that hits your house, by a fire, when moving houses, whatever. So what happens if your diplomas are suddenly gone?

No one can take away your skill. A fire can burn your diplomas but your skill is always with you. As long as you have skill you have all you need.

So lets focus on developing real skill. Lets' put in the time and effort.

I am always amazed by people who ask me the price of a belt but not the price of a training DVD or extra training. Focus on your training, focus not on what you have but what you are.

What you have is temporary but you are is forever.

Ex wives can take your money but not your skills. And as long as you have those skills you can teach.

What you become is what matters, not what you have. All possessions are fleeting.

We grow older, a full head of hair soon turns to a shiny bald head; does not matter, we grow inside, we develop. Skill improves over time like a fine wine. And in the end our skills, our character, our work ethic is all we have. No matter what life dishes out to us our skills and character will raise us up. We can always rebuild. Winners always come back. Setbacks are always temporary.

So sing us your song. Sing us your song tonight.

Billy Joel, what an example for us. Giving, humble, the success never went to his head, happy to share his experience with aspiring musicians and students.

Truly all we have is what we are. And what we are no one can destroy, no one can take away. So lets focus on being the best "us" we can be.

You are unique. Be the best you that you can be. Be real, be you. No one can take you away from you.

No one can steal what you are.

Don't look back on past mistakes, money lost, people who walked away. Nothing good comes of that. Work hard, develop your talent. No one can write your song but you. What is truly yours will always be yours.

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