IDF Soldiers Must Learn Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz, Krav Maga Instructor, Israel

October 2012

I just read the Jerusalem Post, just read the bad news. Young Israeli soldier, had worked in a restaurant with an Arab, co-existence, friends, trust, all that stuff we all dream off.

But his family did not dream of this day. None of us do. In fact, from the moment we are old enough to understand, we dread this day.

We know who we are, we know what kind of a world we live in and we know what kind of a "neighborhood" we live in - The Middle East, Shark el Awsad...

We dreamed of Independence, we dreamed since the year 135 and we achieved this. It came at a great cost, "In blood and fire Zion fell and in blood and fire Zion arose once again."

It was the blood and fire of our young people.

But better this than the torture chambers of the Spanish Inquisition, (or even worse the Portuguese Inquisition), better this than gas chambers and seeing young and old, infants, women, grandmothers and elderly rabbis going up in smoke.

We achieved Independence.

But what a price.

I can picture it like yesterday, no, I can picture it like right now. I am in 6th grade, I am sitting in the class room of the Shilo school in Kiryat Ono, and we are learning poetry. We are learning "The Silver Platter" by the poet Natan Altermann.

"And the earth was quiet....the eye of heaven is red (with tears)

והארץ תשקוט, עין שמיים אודמת
תעמעם לאיטה על גבולות עשנים,
ואומה תעמוד - קרועת לב אך נושמת
לקבל את הנס, האחד, אין שני...

and a nation will stand...with a broken heart but breathing .. to receive the miracle, the one, there is no other. (The State of Israel)

...then from the opposite side they saw coming out, stepping forward, a young boy, and a young girl in uniform, stepping forward towards the nation.

..they are tired, they have had no rest...there is no sign if in fact they are alive...

Then shall ask the nation, covered with tears...Who are you?

and the two are silent

and then they answer, 'We are the silver platter upon which is given the Jewish State.'

Thus they will say...and fall to their feet (death in battle)...and the rest shall be told in the history of Israel"והשאר יסופר בתולדות ישראל”

I am in sixth grade, sitting mesmerized, we are being told that this state that all Jews dreamed of for 2,000 years shall be paid for with the blood of the young people. I look around the room..who shall live and who shall die?

The next year we were attacked on Yom Kippur, the most sacred holiday of the year, and this war was followed many wars.

And it never ends...

It is now many years later, I receive letters daily from all over the world, "How are things in Israel with the Egyptian crises?", "How are things in Israel with the Syrian crises?"

and I laugh, because this is how it has always been (always will be?), this is how we live.

and the years pass, and I am no longer in sixth grade but my it is on their backs, they are all serving, and Natan Altermann's poem...lives within me and the fear never stops.

The two young ones, the boy and the girl, "We are the Silver Platter". And we have no peace.

The dark youthful hair turns to gray, the boy becomes a man, and nothing changes, and the teacher's words, and that poem, are still with me.

So today I read of another young man. He trusted; he believed in a better future. He believed in Peace.

He was lured by his Arab "friend". The friend had a plan. You see his brother is a "security prisoner" being held by the Israelis for the crime of being a terrorist. Now the free brother wanted to help get his brother released from Israeli prison. So he kidnaps an Israeli soldier. But he knows our security forces will find him soon, so he kills the soldier and tries to bargain. He knows we value life so much that even for a dead body we are willing to negotiate. And this is a mistake.

So this young man is now gone. And his family instead of celebrating with him the holiday of Sukkoth, the Feast of Tabernacles, they are sitting in mourning for him, the young boy from the poem is now their son. The Silver Platter.

And now I turn to another topic, but closely related. This year we are told there have been at least thirty attempts at kidnapping Israeli soldiers.  Our enemies know our weakness; we value human life, and we will trade for it.

We also know this, we must never give in. A soldier must fight back and never agree to be taken prisoner, the odds of coming home alive are very slim. Know thine enemy.

When we teach Krav Maga we teach that it is not only physical, it is not a matter of fitness, far more important than fitness is awareness. "Common sense before self defense."

Situational awareness, judging a situation, is critical. All our IKI instructors are trained to teach this way. We do not require 100 push-ups or 20 Kilometer runs, we do require you to think.

The Arabs

We live with Arabs, we work with Arabs, we must maintain a delicate balance.

Are there wonderful Muslim Arabs in this country who will risk their life to save an Israeli Jew?

Yes, there are!

Are there Beduin Arabs and Druse Arabs who serve in the Israeli army and help defend this land?

Yes, there are!

But have we achieved peace? Can we trust everyone?

No, we cannot afford to take that chance. We have had too many cases where a trusted friend murdered an Israeli. The best advice is contained in the Torah, the Bible, "Chabdehu w' Hashdehu", it even sounds good in English, "Respect him and suspect him".

Show respect but be careful, very careful.

I have Arab friends, they know that they can come to my house, and they know equally well that I cannot go to their houses. They will say to me, "Musa, Insha'alla, God willing, a day will come when you can have coffee in our home."  But they know as I do that that day is far far away. It will not be in our lifetime. We shall return to dust...

The Myth

And now forgive me but I divert again. There is this myth, perpetuated by Krav Maga "instructors" who wish to make money off foreigners. I have discussed this before, see "Military Krav Maga Secrets", the myth that every IDF graduate is a Hebrew Rambo Krav expert. And yet we see that this is not the case. Very few IDF soldiers receive extensive Krav Maga training, and only the basics are covered. If you want to learn real Krav Maga you must learn it on a civilian basis, on your own time, not in the military, not in the police (where there is no budget for this training). I have trained many soldiers and I know this; and they always say, "Why have we not received this kind of training in the IDF?"

I contend that IDF soldiers do not receive the Krav Maga training that they need, I contend that they face great danger, and they are not prepared to deal with it. I contend that the Krav Maga courses in the military should not be taught by young men and women who went from zero experience to instructor in 3 weeks. It should be taught by professionals who have devoted their life to this.

I have devoted 30 years to this topic.

My Inspiration...

I am still sitting on that wooden seat in sixth grade, still a young boy with eyes wide open, listening to the teacher read about the Silver Platter, the price we all must pay for the State of Israel. I am still seeing the dead boy and girl in uniform standing before the nation saying "We are the silver platter", but I am also hearing their plea. "Train us! Teach us what you know, spread the word. Let there be no more victims."

I truly believe that we at IKI are offering the BEST Krav Maga in the world, and we are constantly seeking to improve it. We must spread the word, we must produce more teachers, more students. 

We must teach, we must educate, we must wake people up ALL OVER THE WORLD because everyone has a right to live in freedom.

This young man was killed with a blunt weapon. We have a defense for this. Yesterday I wrote about a woman who was choked, we have a great defense for that as well.

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