edge of Pain
by Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

June 2, 2020, Israel

Pain; many adjectives can be used to describe it. A physical therapist will ask that absurd question, on a scale of one to ten how much does it hurt? Can you really quantify pain? Can you quantify hunger? All we know is we feel pain and we want it to end. Each person has a different threshold of pain but no words can fully capture the feeling.

However if you can take the edge off the pain, reduce it just a little, you will have gained a world of opportunities. No matter how great the pain, a little lessening of it gives us a feeling of hope, of escape. This is our opportunity. There will be no conflict without pain. There is no life without pain. You are born in your pain and most likely you will die in pain, and in between you will certainly experience your fair share of pain. 

But if we can take the edge of the pain, that is why people drink, or take drugs, it does not solve the problem but it takes the edge off the pain, if only for a moment. That will not be our solution however.

Each blog I write has a point of inspiration, something, a comment, an incident, something I read or a distant memory that will trigger a blog.

I arrive at the train station, West 54th street, Manhattan, New York City. I get off the train, I can hardly contain my excitement. I quickly, briskly, practically running, go up the stairs and reach street level. I am almost there. I enter the building 350 West 54th Street.  I see the doorman and proudly announce, "I am Moshe Katz, here to see Esther and Sylvia Katz, apartment 9J please".

I wait patiently for what seems like a long time. He calls. "Yes, approved, you can go up, first elevator on the left". The elevator trip seems to take forever. I get off at the 9th floor, get out and turn to my right. There at the end of the hallway are two of the most beautiful women in the world, my dear aunts Esther and Sylvia, sisters of my late grandfather Moe Katz of blessed memory, whom I never met. I am careful not to run. They are standing outside their door, as always, waiting for me. Two beautiful elderly women. As I enter the apartment they say, "sit down, lunch will be ready soon, but first a little something to take the edge off the hunger, you must be hungry now."

It has been many years since my dear aunts left this world and that trek to Manhattan is now only a memory, but that expression is always with me. Take the edge of the hunger. 

Of course I was never starving but the point is their care, you must be hungry, before we sit and begin our visit you must eat something so that you wont' have hunger pangs. Once the edge of hunger is gone we can enjoy the conversation while lunch is warming up.

One of my aunts would go into the kitchen while the other would sit me. And the rest was magic. 

I apply this concept to our Krav Maga training and as such perhaps dear Esther and Sylvia play a part in IKI, although to be honest they never understood my interest in martial arts. When I told them about my black belt they wondered why I was so excited about my new belt and why I kept telling them of its color. Does not matter. 

With our Krav Maga defense we do not intend to take away all the pain. This is not a martial arts movie where the hero turns his opponents into pretzels or does other ridiculous stunts. My goal in teaching is to do what dear Aunts Esther and Sylvia taught me, just to take the edge of the pain, the hunger. The full lunch will be here soon.

We teach simple blocks that everyone can do, under stress, in a real situation. We teach basics. Once someone has become familiar with the basics, this is called Taking the Edge off the Hunger. Now you can follow up with the main meal, now we teach counter attacks that can incapacitate your opponent as need be. Our expectations are realistic, take the edge off the pain, block the main trust of the attack, take away the impact of the blow, reduce the power of the attack against you, that is the edge of pain. Now we can counter, now you have your main meal ready to served.

Krav Maga is for everyone, even a couple of old ladies living alone on the 9th floor. It is for them that we must train.

Dear Aunt Esther and Aunt Sylvia may never have understood what a black belt is but they understood life, they cared, they wanted to take the edge of the hunger. Their memory lives within me.

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