Hand Luggage and Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz, Krav Maga Instructor, Israel

equipaje de mano, bagaglio a mano

August 13, 2013

Terminal 4, JFK, New York, USA...."we're on our way home". (Beatles, Let it Be Album)

Boarding the flight from Toronto to JFK earlier today we were asked to check our hand luggage. This happens often with smaller aircraft where there is insufficient space in the overhead compartments for the "standard sized regulation hand luggage" as permitted by the airlines.

It struck me as odd; the bag is classified as "hand luggage" with the idea that one can carry it on board the plane and retrieve items that one either needs or wants during the flight. Perhaps one would like a snack, reading material, reading glasses, eye drops.

So we had a few seconds to quickly pull out a few items from our hand luggage and then we had to check it. Each one had to make some quick decisions; what do I really need? what must I have with me? It can be a little stressful when you have to down-size and reduce your travel supplies to the basics, the essentials.

This is in fact the essence of IKI Krav Maga. We cannot carry everything with us. No one is telling us we are not allowed to carry much but that is simply the nature of things; we can only retain a limited amount of information and in a stressful situation that information becomes very difficult to retrieve. As such we must downsize to the basics, to the essentials we need to survive. We take the minimum we need for our journey, only those tools that will help us reach our destination safely.

We would like to carry many tools with us, but, how very disappointing, we cannot have everything we want. ("You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need." The Rolling Stones. 1969, Let it Bleed Album)

In fact I am a bit disappointed now. The El Al terminal used to have a Starbucks but now all I can find is a Pete's Coffee. I don't know Pete but I am not so crazy about his coffee, but it will have to get me through this blog.

Life is full of disappointment and compromises but ultimately we learn to get by with what we have. That too is the essence of Krav Maga. We like our fancy throws and takedowns, we like our back-spinning kicks, our complex joint locks, but ultimately we must leave those behind with our "checked luggage" as those techniques will only slow us down and hold us back.

As we leave more and more baggage behind we are left, in the end, with ourselves. We are left with our skills, thoughts and attitudle. We are left with our own spirit.

In the film "Yentel", Barbara Streisand's' character, a young woman named Yental, sings, "There are some things that no man can take away, no wind can blow away, no wave can wash away and now they will begin to be mine."

In our history, the history of the Jewish people, we have had this happen to us many times. We have had everything physical taken away. Wealth, property, stature, status, influence, political rights, all were taken away. But there are some things that no man can take away. With spirit, and skill and determination our Survivors, our Witnesses, our Dry Bones, rose up and built a democracy. And where? in the Middle East where no such concept existed and still does not exist among our neighbors.

They had certain possessions that "no man can take away"; they walked out of Living Hell with these possessions. Guided by a spirit that could not be crushed they built a new state, a new army, and new fighting system.

Israel's number one natural resource is not oil, (gave that away for "peace" with Egypt), nor gold (got none of that), but brain power and determination.

It is the same with Krav Maga.

Krav Maga does not depend upon weapons (these can be dropped, mishandled, taken away, or forgotten at home).

Krav Maga does not depend upon youth,(this passes with time, we all grow old).

Krav Maga does not depend upon physique, muscle, speed or talent.

Like the people who created it (see Krav Maga History) Krav Maga depends upon spirit, attitude, creativity, and leaving excess baggage behind.

It is more than ironic that in my parents' generation the world was busy, either actively or passively, killing off the Jewish nation while in our own times the Nation of Israel is training military and civilians all over the world. Our Search and Rescue teams are the first international aid to arrive, in any country where we are welcome. Our doctors and scientists help those in need, even among our proclaimed enemies, and our Krav Maga instructors are all over the world so that "no one should live in fear."

We can forget, and we must never forgive the evil done to us, but we work to build a better world. We reach out our hands to anyone who is willing to be a partner to peace. Peace through strength, true peace.

My coffee is now done and I see my people walking towards the El Al gate, time to board. How beautiful it is to see my people heading towards El Al to fly home to Israel, gathering us from the four corners of the earth to bring us home to Zion.

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