determination Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

August 31, 2023, Woodmere, NY, USA

Going back to the 1930's a young Jewish law student is accused of cheating on his exams. The young man is called into the deans' office, naturally he is concerned. 

Dean Fraser skipped the pleasantries and got right down to business. 

He said, "Mr. Bender, we have a problem here. You have done too well on your midterm exams." 

"Too well sir? " Keva inquired.

"Yes, too well," continued the dean. "I have compared your aptitude tests which were part of your application to this law school, with these midterm grades and they do not correlate. There is no explanation that I am aware of for how a gentleman such as yourself could score so poorly on aptitude tests and then do so well in law school. Do you have any explanation for this Mr. Bender ?" queried the dean.

Keva paused for a moment (clearly he was being accused of cheating on his exams) and then stated, "I believe I know why the two do not correlate sir."

"And do share your theory with me," said Dean Fraser.

"sir," Keva said, "there is nothing in those aptitude tests that measures determination". 

The dean looked at Keva and said nothing

What the dean did not know was that young Keva, the son of immigrants and a poor farm boy, was working his tail off. He devoted himself to his studies to make up for his previous lack of education. 

We are all born with certain skills and traits. We are all born into certain circumstances. There is no doubt that one born into a family with wealth and connections has a certain advantage, but that is not our fate. There is another factor, and that factor is determination.

I have achieved a great deal in my career and a Krav Maga instructor. I will skip the false humility for the sake of teaching and enlightening. I do not know any other instructor who has been invited to teach as many seminars as I have, I do not know any other instructor who has been as innovative with techniques and teaching methods. And often I hear the line, "but you are a natural athlete, you are a natural speaker and leader."

Well, let us examine the facts. In third grade when teams were chosen for soccer, I was chosen 23rd out of the 23 students in my class, and half the class were girls. I was so shy that if my parents had guests, I would seclude myself in my room. In the sixth-grade class play I was given two words. Yes, I am a natural performer and athlete. 

My secret? Determination. And the wonderful thing about determination is you don't have to be born with it. It is not a talent like music, it is not intelligence, and it is not privilege that only some enjoy. It is a universal quality that is freely available to everyone and anyone. 

Can you imagine if there were a store where everything was free? Could you imagine if you could choose to be a few inches taller, or more muscular, or be more intelligent? It is impossible. But Determination is there for all of us, we just need to choose it. I have, and I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I have seen the world because of my determination. 

And what became of this Keva? He was being singled out and discriminated against because he was a Jew, plain and simple. He went on to achieve great things in life, including serving in the USA army during World War Two and being awarded medals for bravery. Read about him in the book "Still". (by Rebecca Bender)

I know of another Jew from that era. He wanted to become an engineer and work in the aircraft industry, but he was told at that time that these companies would never hire a Jew, so don't waste your time. He studied business and recently died a very wealthy man. 

Privilege? Our privilege is that we are born in a time and place where we have the opportunity to work hard. 

Your fate is your own, you can make your own destiny, in life and in Krav Maga, you just have to be determined. You want to earn a black belt? It is possible. 

Determination. It is yours to choose. 

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