One Thousand Words Krav Maga
by Moshe Katz

As is my habit I arrived way too early at the airport. Call me crazy but I like to avoid the stress of the possibility of perhaps being late for my flight. My dad of blessed memory, had a booked called, "The Joy of Stress" but personally I prefer not to be stressed out.

Over the past month I have done quite a bit of flying. And on several El Al flights I have seen Eddie Murphys' film, "1,000 Words". I can pretty much watch it now with the sound off and still enjoy it. Sitting with my caffe Americano lungo con latte at "My Chef" at Malpensa airport I have time to think back on that film, Krav Maga and my life in general.

In the film Eddie Murphy, as "Ray", is faced with a great challenge; his life is in grave danger. He realizes he must do something different, but he does not know what to do, he does not know what actions to take. In his profession he is a man of words, he is a master at using words to get what he wants and to get people to do what he wants them to do. He is beaming with confidence and has no doubts; there is no challenge too great.

And yet now he faces a situation he cannot control, with every word he speaks a single leaf falls off a magical tree that has transplanted itself magically into his backyard. And there are only 1,000 leaves remaining.

The clock is ticking, as are the minutes of our very own lives.

First step is Ray realizes there is a problem that cannot be ignored or talked away. He cannot control this problem in his usual way, in fact the more he uses words – the worse the situation becomes. I admit this film was a bit stressful for me (the first time around), not the usual Eddie Murphy light comedy.

So Ray takes ACTION – he DOES things, he gives food to the homeless, money to nuns (he then changes his mind on that one), gifts to the guy at Starbucks, (oh this made me really miss Starbucks, especially in Italy where there are none.) And yet, how frustrating, his ACTIONS, just like his words, have no effect. He has made some progress but it is not enough, his health is declining, he has lost his job, and his wife and child have left him. You really feel for the guy, he is trying his best but he simply does not know what to DO.

During this time he begins to deal with other long standing issues in his life; his senile mother in the old age center, the memory of a father who abandoned him at a young age, and the anger still lingers, his commitment to his marriage as compared to still trying to live the single life within the context of a marriage.

As we approach the end of the film something happens, and to be honest, I cannot put my finger on it, (readers comments welcomed). In a sense Ray dies at the foot of his father's grave, he accepts, he understands, he forgives.

What happens here is not WORDS, and not ACTIONS, Ray is not DOING anything, he is BECOMING something, someone different.

It is no longer about doing (and expecting a change to take place) but about becoming.

It is like my brother Ethan told me about years ago in the Israeli Defense Forces; they break you down and then build you up into the soldier they need you to be. It is not what you do, or even HOW you do it, but WHO you are. We spend our lives doing things and expecting results/rewards where in fact results are not only the result of actions but also of personal change.

You want to become a better teacher; it is not only about better techniques, that will only get you so far, but about changing and becoming a person who truly cares deeply about what he is doing and contributing.

With Krav Maga it is not only about DOING certain things differently, the IKI way, but about becoming a different kind of practitioner, having a different mind-set, a different flow, a different energy.

In Many martial arts practitioners are frustrated by their lack of progress, they cannot break through a certain invisible barrier, they try harder and harder but that only hinders them even more. Like Ray in the film they must "die" first. They must "die" to old ideas, they must let go of the old self, of the perception of who they are. This "giving in/acceptance/letting go" is the rebirth that is needed for true change. Ray is reborn into a new perception, a new way of thinking, and being, with new and wonderful results.

And now my coffee is finished and soon it is time for me to board the flight back home, home to Israel, (are there any sweeter words?!)