February 16, 2021, Destin, Florida, USA
When I first founded the Israeli Krav International organization I had many goals in mind. I wanted to serve God and man, I wanted to serve humanity. The idea of the organization was not mine at all, but others had come to me. These were great martial arts masters who saw what was happening in the Krav Maga world in the United States and wanted something different. They came to me. But I did not feel ready or worthy. So the first person I approached was my rabbi.
He used several Biblical lessons to convince me to take upon myself this mantle and he assured me that I would succeed. He then sent me to speak to one of the great rabbis of Jerusalem. Yes, you may think, this is not the usual way a martial arts organization is born, but this is how it happened. My next stop was my teacher, Itay Gil, I would certainly never take upon myself such a role without his approval and blessing. This I received. But I did not settle with that, I offered him a leading position in this new organization and an active role. Eventually for business and personal reasons he let IKI (Israeli Krav International) spread its wings and develop in its own unique way.
But this still was not enough for me. I sought the advice and guidance of leading martial arts experts. Among those was the late great Prof. Arthur Cohen of blessed memory. He was there whenever I needed guidance or a word of encouragement.
When I embarked on this path I made a little deal with our Creator; I will stay pure, I will never let money blind me, I will seek spiritual guidance and I will remain true to the needs of the students, no matter the cost to myself. No worthy student shall ever be turned away for the lack of money. Techniques and training should be suitable to all levels and all body types. No man, or woman, shall be left behind. This is our pact.
I feel that I have been blessed and that the Covenant has been maintained. The blessings have been manifold. That full story has yet to be told.
Last nights' seminar here in Florida included the Best of the Best, and the new and the young. Among those who came to train were soldiers, former Marines and Special Forces, police officers and body guards. And yet the training was also suitable for the new comers, and the those who might not fit the profile of a warrior, such as a woman who does not even approach 5 feet tall. Our Krav Maga is for all. This is the deal.
When I approached Itay with this idea of the new organization, he had some words of wisdom, and warnings. Ranks would be an issue. Running an organization would be a massive headache, and indeed he has been correct. But ranks, that would be the most challenging aspect. Ranks create jealousy. And jealousy can destroy everything.
I have written about this a great deal; if you are part of an association you must trust the decisions of the head instructor. Trust that he knows what he is doing and respect the ranks that he bestows upon his students, even if you do not understand why.
There is more that goes into a rank than most students see; there are issues of character, personal limitations, challenges, and life circumstances. I have learned from my worthy teachers that all this must be taken into account. So a student may look at another and think, they don't look so tough, I am not that impressed with their skills, how on earth did the teacher award them such a rank!
Trust your teacher. Just as you have personal issues that are unknown to others, so do the other students.
Last night when I came back to the hotel I received a wonderful letter from one of our students in Australia, Dan the Krav Maga man. He is now a candidate for first level instructor.
As with most of our students we have a regular dialogue going on. This includes letters and videos. This current letter validated what I do, and as my rabbi's wife whispered in his ear many years ago, "Someone is listening". Dan's words reflect a deep understanding of what we are doing here with IKI, his words give me comfort that way across the ocean someone is indeed paying attention and getting the message. I am inspired by his words and I want to share them with you.
Dan was speaking of a friend whom he trains with. At first this friend was not interested in Krav Maga, he had been dazzled by the impressive martial arts demonstrations that he saw on the internet. But Dan enlightened this individual with wisdom and insight, and eventually he saw the light.
I talked to him about how even great masters in demonstrations miss sometimes (we watched examples on You Tube), and talked about how that's not even under the pressure of a real attack, and in a real attack a "miss" could be catastrophic, and there are then moral issues teaching things that may not improve chances of survival much at all. I also said many people don't just don't have the time or willingness to train that much anyway, or some won't have the ability to get there medically or physically (i.e. they do not have the physical capability of achieving the desired results of the martial art. Many people have physical limitations. Note: Moshe). He concluded and agreed that speed, power, and accuracy are actually the enemy of solid survival Combatives for the masses.
Truly I could not express this better myself. Dan has understood my message and internalized this, what more can a teacher ask for?
I joked that you can tell it is Israeli because it is "Brilliance in Simplicity", much like the Proverbs of King Solomon. He did not laugh as he actually found what I said to be a profound comparison.
Dan referred to our system as "Brilliance of complexity made simple."
I am also proud that he pointed out that many Krav Maga schools are "Very inaccessible due to the ridiculous cost to individuals" while IKI remains affordable. Brian Johnston in Ohio wrote, "It gives me joy to see the CEO of a major Krav Maga organization focus on saving lives and not on making money".
There are days when, as we say in Israel, the teacher licks honey.
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