February 4, 2021, United Airlines Flight 2265, LAX- ORD, USA
Training with the late great Prof. Arthur Cohen, Woodmere, New York.
Flights, airports, watching people, coming, going. Wondering what would happen if...thinking of every possibility. We are traveling in the midst of a pandemic and today, in the midst of an impending storm. I have a great deal of experience flying, in particular through Chicago, and I am aware of the possibilities; missing tight connections, cancelled flights, not being able to show up for a seminar, I have been through it all and it can be very traumatizing.
We are also traveling from a warm Climate, México and then California, to colder climates, Michigan and then Ohio, which I am told is facing record cold weather. And this makes me think about our Krav Maga, our self-defense.
I think of my dear friend, teacher and mentor, Arthur Cohen of blessed memory, and the lessons that he taught me, I would call it an awakening. He took me beyond technique, beyond the physical moves of martial arts, in fact the concepts he shared with me transcended the differences between styles.
Prof. Cohen came from a very different style, Taekwondo and Tang So Do, but that did not matter, for just as the styles have common roots, they also have common goals; self-preservation. As we switch from warm climate to cold, everything changes; the clothing, the ground surface, the temperature, even the culture. Arthur awakened me to the idea that this changes everything. In all my years in the Karate dojos I never heard an instructor address these issues. We had our kata (Pre-arranged forms), we had our sparring, but we never addressed the real issues that Arthur brought up: What if your opponent is wearing a heavy winter coat? What if you are wearing a heavy winter coat?
We all want to feel safe in the places we spend our time, but we spend our time in different places. In the past you most likely died in the same little village in which you were born, people were attached to the land and vacations were unheard of. But times have changed. People travel, people move, and everything changes.
Recreational habits are different, behavior tends to be different, clothing is different, surface areas are different. We need to take all this into account. Many of our traditional martial arts are actually derived from these differences. I observed two practitioners of traditional Filipino stick fighting and noticed very different foot movements. I inquired as to the reason for these differences. The answer was that the different foot movements were derived from different parts of the country, one mountainous, and one flat surfaced. And yet they maintained their unique footwork throughout the generations without question it or adapting it. I may point out that I met both in New York City, far from the mountains or flatlands of the Philippines. And this begs the question; adaptation to reality.
Arthur showed me how jujitsu joint locks will not work; they are limited to a particular set of perfect circumstances. He showed me how his Taekwondo kicks would not work for his student who works for the Coast Guard and spends time on a small boat, nor would they work in an elevator, or on a staircase. The fierce karate punches are unlikely to penetrate the heavy coats of his students who live in Alaska. In other words, rethink everything, go beyond the physical self-defense, understand the environment and the ever changing world in which we live in.
I was taught a certain Shurin Ryu Kata that involved stepping over imaginary rice fields. Apparently this tradition came from a family that trained in a rice field in Okinawa and obviously did not want their family karate training to destroy the family livelihood. But why should I, so far removed from this, observe this tradition?
We learn from all sources and respect tradition and wisdom, and we adopt and adapt as needed, to our circumstances and our bodies. We seek techniques, concepts and strategies that can be adjusted and adapted to individual bodies and circumstances, that is the essence of IKI - Israeli Krav International.
Some believe in Climate Change, some dismiss this idea, but we all know that life changes, we change, we travel, we move, our bodies change. We meet different people and different circumstances. When Daniel in Karate Kid arrives in California he says, in New Jersey I knew the rules, here I don't know the rules.
Every street has its rules, every surface is different, each hood has its gangs and rules and we need a self-defense system that is adaptable, to our bodies and to your ever changing world. That is the goal of IKI - Israeli Krav International.
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