April 8, 2019, Zurich Airport, El Al
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I have always been impressed with Israeli airport security. From my own experiences, from students who have travelled to Israel to participate in our Tour and Train program, and from friends who work for El Al, I have heard many stories. But today at the airport in Zurich they managed to surprise, and impress, me again.
The young Israeli woman at the counter invited me to approach her stand. She asked the standard questions, I gave the standard answers, and then she said, wait a moment.
She left and did not return, instead came a tall muscular man named Yonatan. He looked at me and said, "You are a Krav Maga instructor". I looked at my T shirt just to confirm that I was not wearing a Krav Maga T shirt, I was not.
"How did you know?" I asked incredulously. He said, you gave a seminar in Kiev last October.
Wow, he remembered me from Kiev, Ukraine. I said, "you must see thousands of people each week, how could you possibly remember me?"
Then another, older, fellow came over, another El Al security expert. Yonatan introduced us. The man said that he had found objects in my suitcase that confirmed that I was a Krav Maga instructor. Well done!
We chatted for a while about Krav Maga. Yonatan teaches some police groups in Zurich. He said, most people think Krav Maga is about fighting, about aggression, but is it not. He said, I teach, and practice, that the main thing is in the mind. We must be constantly aware of our surroundings, we must study people, faces, behavior. This is what it is all about. The physical part is simpler. Most people will never be able to take down the attacker, I teach simple defense and escape. Life is not a martial arts movie.
Wow, I was impressed. I told him that that is exactly what I teach and preach all the time, but some people still seek the Bad Ass Tough Guy (or sexy girl) image. They still want to "live in the movies".
Now Yonatan could have that image. He is young, tall and muscular, but yet he is wise and honest and knows that "that sort" of Krav Maga is neither effective nor realistic. The popular Krav Maga taught around the world is not used by Israeli security.
Many schools want to hit hard. To them the workout is the "real thing", that is what works for commercial schools because it fits the people's perception and expectation of Krav Maga. Give the people what they want. Make the women feel like Jennifer Lopez in "Enough".
But that is not how training should be done. We need to learn the techniques correctly first, without hurting our training partners. (Note I say "training partners", not "opponents", know the difference).
Trainers like myself and Yonatan understand that self defense is first and foremost a use of our best weapon, our brain. Our head should be used for more than just a punching bag. We must be wise.
Our goal in training is to survive real life violent encounters. We will never be movie stars or fight champions. Our goal at IKI is for you to get home safely. Yonatan's goal is for you to have a safe flight. But before and after the flight...it is up to you.
As I walked towards the aircraft another El Al security expert winked at me and said, "Have a good flight Mr. Katz". Another older gentleman said, in Yiddish accented Hebrew, Bracha ve Hatzlacha, Blessings and Success.
They respected a fellow Krav Maga instructor, a person, like themselves, devoted to keeping people safe. Mutual respect. They showed me that even before I approached the check-in, they knew exactly who I was. They were expecting me. This is what real Krav Maga is about. This is how we keep a flight safe.
Now what are you
going to do to keep your family safe? This is your responsibility. We are here
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