August 25, 2021, Schiphol airport, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Teaching in Holland, the Netherlands, years ago. This has been a regular stop for more than a decade.
Potential, a scary concept. Sometimes we wish we had the brains of an Einstein or a Freud, but we do have our own brains, our own abilities, and our own potential, but we rarely achieve it.
I was speaking to an expert auto mechanic and he was telling me some amazing things about cars and engines, how with the proper tools and the experienced mechanic a car can achieve a great deal more power and strength than it currently has. Most cars do not achieve their potential because they are not cared for properly. It appears that many mechanics are lacking the skill to see the true potential of the car.
We are the same. If we could achieve our own potential in life, in our personal endeavors, we need not ask God for greater gifts, we need not be jealous of those who were born with greater gifts than we have. We have enough, if we learn how to tap into it. If we achieve our potential we will be far ahead of where we are now. Within our potential lies great possibilities. Imagine a box, only a quarter full, yet the owner of the box complains constantly of not having enough space, if he learned how to properly use the box he would lack for nothing. I have seen this achieved in my own family with suitcases; a master packer can pack a great deal more than an average packer.
I can't help but think of the story of Reb Zush, one of the holy brothers, 'der heiliger bruders', as he lay in his bed preparing for the end of his earthly life, he cried. He was surrounded by his students, his disciples, those who would continue his holy path and his sacred work, and they asked him, "Master, Rabbi, Teacher, why do you cry? Is it because you fear that when you meet the Holy One Blessed Be He, he will ask you why you were not Moses?, that he might find you lacking in that you did not achieve that which Moses has achieved?"
Reb Zush, the master of life, answered, "No, my children, I fear that God will ask me, Zusha, why weren't you...Zusha?"
The holy Reb Zush feared only that he will be found lacking in that he has not achieved his own God-given potential, that he has not maximized the use of his suitcase, that he did not make the most of this brief life that we are given. For we believe that life is given for a purpose; our lives are temporary and our bodies only the vehicle of the soul. What will we achieve during our brief sojourn here in this earthly life?
My dear father of blessed memory, loved and lived this story of Reb Zush. He yearned to achieve his potential but always felt that he came up short, but he tried. He believed that one must keep trying, every day, to reach his own potential, never to give up. We will face obstacles, we must not fear them but welcome them, we must achieve more. May each day bring us closer to a worthy goal, he repeated this message with every new month in the Jewish calendar.
We ask for more but have we made the most of what we already have? Have we maximized our potential with the gifts we have?
Applying this to martial arts, to self-defense, we may cry out, why was I not given the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger ? Why was I not give the ability of Bruce Lee or the muscle and flexibility of Jean Claude Van Damme? But we forget that they too worked within their potential, they used what they had, they played the cards they were dealt in life. Each had their own limitations but they worked within those limitations. They maximized their potential.
I see many styles that teach techniques that very few can achieve, that have never been successfully pulled of in real life, that defy logic, but yet they are taught. The instructors are blinded by their own ego; they actually believe that they themselves have mastered these techniques and will be able to defeat larger opponents in every day life. They are deluded by their own fantasies. And now they delude their students who trust them.
We begin with modesty. We recognize how limited we are but within our limits we can achieve greatness. We can pack a lot more into our suitcases that we originally imagined.
Our style of self-defense, IKI Krav Maga, works within the reality of the Human Factor. This is both physical and psychological. What can we pull off psychologically? Do we have the mental ability to perform great violence? Or is this something that our personality will not allow? If it is not within our psychological ability, we don't include it in our self-defense arsenal. We stick to that which we can pull off. It is the same with the physical. We will not teach techniques that involve body movements that we can not perform. We will not expect a 74 year old man to do a Jean Claude style jump and spin kick. We will not expect an overweight woman of 50 to dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee. We will work with what you have, within your limits.
Yes, we all have limits, but within these limits we can achieve everything we need to achieve.
Have a Blessed New Year everyone.
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