old teachers

July 23, 2015, Israel 

I recently saw a posting on social media by one of our IKI instructors, a photo of his first instructor's tombstone/grave/final resting place. He was speaking of his debt to his first martial arts instructor.

I was very touched. This is how it should be. 

In our fast paced world where everyone wants instant gratification we people changing instructors like they change tires. There are new Krav Maga associations popping up every day and people fall pray to the "channel switching syndrome", i.e. with so many channels to choose from people cannot stay with one channel long enough to actually enjoy a program.

There is old and true saying; a jack of all trades, a master of none. Very simply this means that if you do not devote yourself to one art you will never be a master of anything. This is the truth with martial arts. Too many people skip around from one style to another without every truly mastering any art. I trained with Itay Gil for 18 years at least 3 times per week. I attended every special training, no matter where or when it was held.   

In Judaism we speak of how being a student is much more than the accumulation of facts. We say that one should hang out casually with his teacher an pick up the little details of his teachers' life. There are great lessons outside the classroom, great lessons outside the books.

In Florida we opened a new IKI school with two wonderful instructors, Carrie and Scott. I was so delighted that our veteran instructors in that region showed up to participate, help out and support the seminar. I was so happy to see John Liptak, Joe Cayer, and Gary Brielmayer there along with several of their students. What a great family we have! 

But then Joe said something after class that meant a great deal. He said that with every seminar, every class, that he attends, he gets more of "my heart". To me that means he understands more of my essence, and the essence of IKI Krav Maga.

My friends, that will make a difference in the way he teaches.

With Joe Cayer, Dr. Day, and John Liptak, Florida, USA

In Judaism we say there is no such thing as a "former" (or past) teacher. A teacher is for life. We say if a teacher taught you only one sentence you are obligated to treat him with the respect due to a teacher for the rest of your life. Think about that. 

You cannot fire a teacher. You can move on if you need to at some point in your life but a teacher remains a teacher.

As I grow older more and more of my teachers and role models have passed on to the other realm and are no longer among the living, but their words live on with me. Their teachings are part of my life and I pass this on to you.

Old teachers are still teachers, their words still guide us. I have never let go of any of my teacher. A true teacher is a gift.

Some of my teachers wrote books, those books are on my shelf. When I pull them out I always proudly introduce the book with...my teacher wrote this book...

I think of the late Rabbi Jacob Wehl of blessed memory. His book is in my library but I recall vividly the days where it was not a book but his actual presence in the classroom. I was not reading his words from a printed page but I was hearing them with my own ears. And I still hear them..."Katz, mark my words, you will remember that I am telling you today, make no mistake about it....

Ah...alas, for they are gone, and none be found to replace them.

The warm smile of Rabbi Wahrman of blessed memory, the quit disposition of Rabbi Heisler, the sweetness of Rabbi Laine. The passion of Rabbi Kahane and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. What teachers I have been privileged to have!

When a true student and a true teacher meet, both rejoice.

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