attacker Defender Relationship

April, 2023, Israel


"Understanding comes about through feeling, from moment to moment in the mirror of a relationship"

"Understanding oneself happens through a process of relationships and not through isolation."

"To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person."

"Truth is the relationship with the opponent; constantly moving, living, never static."

"Relationship is understanding. It is a process of self-revelation. Relationship is the mirror in which you discover yourself- to be is to be related."

All the above quotes come from Bruce Lee, a martial arts pioneer. The idea is that life, and combat, and self-defense are a series of encounters, a process of self-development with other people. 

It is easy to sit at home with your cup of coffee and be a peaceful man. But to go out, interact with others, and remain calm in the face of all sorts of challenges, disappointments, betrayal and backstabbing, is quite another story. We grow through our relationships. There is certainly value in the "alone time", in meditation, in private prayer, but that enlightenment must then be tested in light of the relationship with the world. Likewise, there is value is private training, drills, kata, bag work, but it can only be actualized in the relationship with another, i.e. Combat.

What Bruce Lee is saying here is that each violent encounter, is in fact a relationship. Now this may sound strange. When people speak of relationships they think of dating, couples, parents and children, not an Attacker and an intended Victim. That, however, is what Lee is speaking of. Each encounter between an Attacker and an intended Victim is a different relationship. How so? In traditional martial arts training there is a "technique", one standard technique for all. In reality, however, things do not work that way. Allow me to explain; if you are 6 ft tall, 180 pounds, and your attacker is also 6 ft tall and 180 pounds, that is one kind of relationship. If, however, your attack is 6 ft 2 and 190 pounds but you are 5 ft 3 and 120 pounds, that is a totally different relationship. Each relationship will require a slightly different version of the defense. We cannot rely only upon techniques, we need concepts that can be applied for all these different relationships.

Therefore, when I demonstrate a technique, I will say this is what works for me, but for you it might be slightly different as it is a different relationship. I am not you and you are not me. Each attacker and defender are in a unique relationship and our defense must be flexible and pliable to accommodate these different relationships. 

Life is a series of encounters, some are pleasant, others less so. May we grow from all our relationships. Stay Safe.


Moshe training with Sifu Maurice in Wing Chun Kung Fu, New York City, circa 1990


Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.

Understand the Israeli Fighting Mentality - Israel a Nation of Warriors by Moshe Katz


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