Personal Responsibility Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

March 6, 2020, Israel

Rabbi Isaac Klein, rabbi, scholar, military chaplain, my grandfather

Perhaps the first step in the process towards learning self defense is the concept of Personal Responsibility; i.e. you are responsible for taking care of yourself, and others. This may seem obvious to some but in fact it is one of the most difficult concepts to teach. A large portion of society feels that others are responsible for them, that someone else will always show up to fix the problem and make things right. And if this does not happen, society is to blame, the guilty must be found and ...someone should punish them. 

But where does one begin? how does one teach personal responsibility? I believe it begins before you are born, I believe it begins with the behavior and culture of your society, your family, your elders. In my case I am fortunate, all the women in my family, going back as many generations as I am aware of, volunteered, for something. They stood at the helm of self-help organizations, for the elderly, the newborns, the singles, the orphaned. To this day my mother, please God nearing 85 years of age, still volunteers. For many years she headed the organization to help new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and she still teaches English to children from Ethiopia and any child in school who is having trouble learning English.

What does this have to do with Krav Maga? everything.

My grandfather, Rabbi Isaac Klein of blessed memory, passed away when I was young, but his life stories imbued my life with this sense of personal responsibility.  He was 36 years old when the United States entered the war against Nazi Germany and its allies. He was a married man, father of three young daughters and a congregational rabbi. One Saturday/Sabbath morning he stood in front of his congregation and urged all able bodies young men to volunteer for the war effort, before being drafted.  An angry congregant stood up and publicly criticized my grandfather, "It's easy for you to preach to others, you have three daughters and you yourself are over military age!".

My grandfather quietly responded that he had already volunteered was being shipped off during the next two weeks. My grandfather served for the duration of the war, and after, as a military chaplain, landed with the Allied forces on D Day, and faced death many times. He felt that as one of the few survivors of his family he had an obligation to America, he must serve and lead others.

His older brother did not make it out of Europe in time, and along with most of the family met his death at the hands of the Nazis. My grandfather felt a debt of gratitude to America, he left his family and traveled overseas to serve. He took personal responsibility for the war. 

This concept is an integral part of our culture. The Talmud teaches that one who "Plays with cubes" cannot be accepted as a witness in a court of law. One who plays with cubes, or dice, can be called a gambler, and the rabbis discuss why is it that such a man is unacceptable as a witness. (See Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin) The questions is why? Many answers are offered, the one relevant here is that of Rabbi Shesheth; for he does not deal in the development of the world. This means that a gambler does not contribute to society. He makes his living not by building something, not by creating anything of value, but only be games of chance, deceit and cunning. Such a person takes no personal responsibility for the world and thus, according to ancient Jewish law is not admissible as a witness in a court of law.  This is a powerful message and warning. 

We are taught that all of our actions have an impact far beyond what we can see, therefore we must always be careful.

Violence is all around us. The impact, no pun intended, can change, or end our lives, very quickly. We work hard to develop effective easy to learn techniques that will greatly improve your chances of not only surviving but walking away with your spirit and soul intact. Isn't that something you should look into it? Is this not worthy of your time? for your sake, for the sake of your family. 

I have gone through decades of martial arts training. I do not expect this of the general public. I do not expect everyone to put on a gi and devote their lives to a martial discipline, be up at the crack of dawn, do knuckle pushups while a Japanese master whacks your butt with a shinai stick (Yes, I did this every morning). I do not expect that you shall take up full contact fighting (as I did for many years), be thrown around by Judo instructors or have your arms bent out of shape by Jujitsu masters, (Yup, did all that as well). 

I have worked hard, our team around the world has worked hard, to developed concepts, methods and techniques that are

Easy to learn

Easy to apply in an infinite number of situations

Easy to remember

Isn't it time that you took some personal responsibility?

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