Class Act
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

September 15, 2015, Israel, a new year begins...

Eagles don’t hunt flies.” (mob quotes)

Criminal, but even some criminals have class. And there is much we can learn from them.

I often quote lessons learned from gangsters. I am a student of the classic American gangster era, not to glorify, dignify or justify in any way but, there are lessons to be learned.

We can learn from any source, that is the Krav Maga way.

1. Never Grovel - Read the gangster books, see the documentaries, even in the face of death the classic Jewish and Italian mobsters never groveled or begged. Perhaps some of the lower "foot soldiers" did, but never the leaders. Even in the face of death, show dignity, do not lose your cool or composure, do not resort to baseless insults. Class. Always, but always, speak from a position of strength.

Some of the more famous gangsters actually asked for the option of taking their own lives, to die an honorable death. If a death sentence was pronounced, it was accepted, solemnly.

2. Honor - Yes, honor. There was honor and respect among the gangsters. A word was a word. Deals were made with handshakes, nothing more.

3. Loyalty - These organizations were ruthless but the members were loyal to each other. You were loyal to your godfather. If he needed a favor from you, you did it. You showed your gratitude for all he did for you.

4. Honesty - The mob was built on trust and honesty, not on contracts or legal documents of course. If you promised to pay a man, you paid him. Lack of honesty was severally punished. Business depended on honesty.

A deal was a deal and it was honored. A man who would not honor his deal, would not do business any more.

5. Generosity - Loyalty and hard work was rewarded with extra pay. Mayer Lansky stressed to always tip and tip big at restaurants. This is simply good business. When the police come the waitress will alert you and get you to safety.  Being generous is good for business, any business.

6. Motivation - Lansky stressed that they were always looking for good young men. They wanted men with true ambition. A hard working loyal young man with ambition could go very far, very fast.

Mayer Lansky, Little big man.

7. Courage - You need courage to act. And you need courage to face the consequences of your actions. If you made a mistake, you paid for it.

8. Don't talk too much - Did Mayer Lansky retire with 300 million dollars or a few thousand? 'till today no one knows. Was he the master of all American crime or simply an accountant? We still do not know. Keep your mouth shut unless you have something important to say.

Stay out of needless arguments.

Do not engage a fool in rhetoric. Serious people have more important things to do than argue with fools of no significance. Never honor a fool with an argument. Do not allow him to steal your precious time.

9. Pay your bills on time - Never give anyone an opportunity to bring charges against you. Pay and pay on time. Do not delay payment, bad for business.Leave no doubt that all debts are fully paid up.

10. Don't brag - No one likes a big mouth. If you truly are great, people will know it.  A lot of hot air usually means there is very little content. Big talkers can never compete with big doers.

And finally, in summation, Dignity - Always carry yourself with dignity. Did you ever see those mobsters walking around looking like thugs or bums? Were they dressed like homeless people? No, they were always dressed in expensive suits. They saw themselves as businessmen. Yes, they did kill at times, but so do governments, they say. (Of course I am not justifying this, only explaining their point of view.)

They displayed class, self-control, dignity. Certainly we, martial artists, instructors and students alike, should behave accordingly. Avoid arguments but welcome discussion, avoid insults but welcome constructive ideas, show respect at all times.

And remember, no one ever disrespected the godfather.

Mob Quotes

Do Not Lie

“I never lie to any man because I don’t fear anyone. The only time you lie is when you are afraid” ~ John Gotti

“Our principles are highest; honor, solidarity and vengeance. We know there’s no justice for us except we earn it. We earn respect.”

Team Work

It takes many steppingstones, you know, for a man to rise. None can do it unaided” ~ Joe Bonanno

Do Not Attempt a Knife Disarm

“Run from a knife and rush a gun.” ~ Jimmy Hoffa

The best armor is to keep out of range.”

Strong Will

“If there is a will, there is always a way my friend” ~ Richard Kuklinski

“Men stumble on stones, not mountains.”

Maintain your Dignity

Eagles don’t hunt flies.”

Watch Your Mouth

“Don’t let your tongue be your worst enemy.” ~ John Franseze

“Never open your mouth, unless you’re in the dentist chair” ~ Sammy “The Bull” Gravano

Be Realistic

Every remedy of a bad situation has its bad side effects. Choose the remedy with the least.”


“I have killed no men, that, in the first place, didn’t deserve killing” ~ Mickey Cohen


“Always overpay your taxes. That way you’ll get a refund.” ~ Meyer Lansky


“I am an American citizen, first class. I don’t have a badge that makes me an official good guy like you, but I work just as honest for a living. ~ Lucky Luciano

Accept that certain things are beyond your control. Let it be.

I have no control over anybody” ~ Tony Accardo

Maintain Your Principles and Expect Trouble

“A man without enemies is a man without qualities. Even Jesus Christ had many enemies.”

“The world belongs to the patient man.”

When you compromise, you lose. When you seem to have compromise, you have taken a step towards winning.”

Live with Courage

“It’s better to live on day as a lion than a hundred years as a lamb” ~ John Gotti

“There isn't anything on earth that I will hide from or back up from” ~ Greg Scarpa

Kindness or Weakness

“Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me” ~ Al Capone

Non Mob Quotes

"When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser." Socrates

"my dear friends never enter into a war of words as the battle is lost" Tony Preston

"Name calling is the last refuge of the non-thinkers" Rabbi Meir Kahane

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