Moment of Distraction

April 4, 2024, Israel

It is early morning, and I am driving home from the synagogue. Services began this morning at 5:30, now it is 6:24. I am tired. The streets are still rather empty in our little town. Cats are still roaming the street; the nighttime and early morning belong to them. I can see a few early morning walkers and some men are on their way to their morning prayers, (not everyone prays at the crack of dawn, we have already concluded our prayers, others are just beginning). I am tired, I have my black coffee which they serve at the synagogue at the conclusion of services. It contains the spice Hawayej, a good pick-me-up, but I am still feeling tired. 

it is early morning, beautiful. I noticed a cat cross the street, I notice some birds, but then I remind myself, watch the road.

I go back in time, family vacation, my father, may he rest in peace, is driving. My mother, may she rest in peace, is the tour guide and has the handy guidebook with her. She is pointing out things along the way. Boys, notice the old fort on the side of the road, Not you Paul! My father's job is to drive. My mother reminds him that while there are interesting things to see on the side of the road, he, the driver, must focus on the road itself.

That lesson has stayed with me a lifetime. When you are the driver you must focus on the road, not on the side of the road. All it takes is a moment of distraction and a tragedy can happen.

I am back in the present. I am driving home, and I am aware that despite the quiet a child might suddenly dart into the street. It can happen in a split second, but I must be ready for if I am distracted by the sunrise or by a beautiful bird flying by, that might cost a child his life. When I am driving, I must focus on the drive, on the road, on the other drivers and anyone who might be trying to cross the street, that is the job of the driver. A driver must be constantly aware, vigilant at all times, for all it takes is a moment of distraction and tragedy can occur. A childs' life may come to an end, an elderly person might be run over, and you will spend the rest of your life regretting that one moment, that one brief moment of distraction. 

You might say later on, "but it was just a moment! Normally I am very good driver, I am usually very aware". But that does not matter, all that matters is that for one brief moment you were distracted, and that is all it took to take a life. 

When I teach Krav Maga I teach awareness, some people find it annoying. They prefer to devote their training to fitness, to kickboxing drills, but that is of secondary importance, that is the fun part. The important part is to learn constant awareness, to be vigilant. For you are the driver and all it takes is a moment of distraction and the terrorist will be upon you, the mugger, the criminal looking for a crime of opportunity, will be on you.

When my nephew was stabbed it was later determined that the terrorist had been hanging out in that area for days waiting for.... the first soldier to be distracted for a moment. As my nephew turned his head, for a brief moment, to communicate on the walkie talkie device, he was stabbed. A moment of distraction, that is all it takes. 

Remember that, just as you must be constantly aware as a driver, you must be constantly aware in life, make it a habit. And I hear my mother's voice, telling my father, Not you Paul! keep your eyes on the road!

And yes, I was listening. 


Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.

Understand the Israeli Fighting Mentality - Israel a Nation of Warriors by Moshe Katz


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