Lengthen your Line
By Moshe Katz, Krav Maga instructor

November 2, 2010, USA

Again, on tour, enjoying my breakfast coffee in the hotel, while the TV with the huge screen is on. All sorts of news that seems unnews worthy, and lot of commercials for politicians. I see that an election is coming up and everyone is busy with campaign commercials.

Somehow I feel a little like Borat, I am observing American culture and learning from it, for the benefit of the "Glorious nation of Kazakhstan". Only in my case the lessons I learn are always applied to Krav Maga training. By the way, as I hope you all read in my previous blog entries, I have been to Kazakhstan and I have only the most positive reports, it was a wonderful experience. Unlike the depiction in the movie I found no trace of racism of any kind.

Back to our breakfast show, enjoying Starbucks and passing the time. It seems like all the commercials are dealing with the faults, shortcomings, and crimes of the opposing candidates. No one seems to talk all that much about themselves, they just put down the opponent.

Not living here, and not having inside information, I do not know how much is true and how much is exaggeration. If I were to believe everything it does appear that all American candidates are corrupt, greedy, sex offenders; taking advantage of young women's bodies and old folk's money.

Observing this as a martial artist, I am reminded of the Zen lesson, "Lengthen your Line". Martial artists tend to be competitive; tournaments are encouraged, everyone needs to be a “winner” by defeating someone else, your rank is only valid if it is higher than someone else or if you achieved it first.

Too many gyms advertise themselves as “Home of Champions”, and so forth. Well you know what? To be that kind of champion means someone else, many others, have to be defined as losers. All of these people believe the only way to achieve something of value is by being better than someone else.

Now what if you can’t beat the other guy fair and square? Then you will beat him by hook or by crook, after all, winning is everything, is it not? Second place is not an option. So if we cannot achieve greatness by lengthening our own line, i.e. improving ourselves, we do so by shortening the other persons’ line, i.e. cutting him down with insults and criticism.

Listening to these politicians and watching their commercials I am reminded of this lesson. Being in office is very difficult; many politicians start out with good intentions but get caught up in the system. The Talmud teaches, “Do not judge another until you stand in his place.” So why should the candidate be so quick to criticize someone who has stood where he, the candidate, is yet to stand? Instead of criticizing, show me what you can do.

Lengthen your on line first; work on yourself and your positive attributes. This indeed is a much greater challenge than finding faults in another.

IKI Instructor Viktorija Simulynaite teaching women in Burma. We help others move forward. (photo 2018)

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