January 30, 2024, El Al, TLV - JFK
There is a hunger, a pain in the gut, that beginners feel. There is the solider entering his first battle, there is the fighter facing his first fight, there is an edge. You can see it in their eyes, they are hungry.
There is a boxer in the ghetto, in the slums, hitting the bag and dreaming of glory. There is a musician playing hours a day in the darkness of the subway, this guitar is soaring, his pain is felt in every note, his voice speaks of a hunger, a drive.
When I was a brown belt, our teacher Itay Gil, said, "I want to see a hunger in all of you, if you hope to become a black belt, I want to see your hunger". There is an edge, a hunger, a darkness, a pain. You want to win, you have to win, you are going to win. There is no stopping you. There is a darkness, a pain.
And then you look back thirty years later, and you wonder where it went. Now you are a slightly out of shape grand master, and you have more stripes on your belt than you bother to count, you have an office lined with awards, youth replaced by old age, perhaps the hunger is gone, the darkness has been replaced with a comfortable lifestyle and a nice investment portfolio. Black coffee has been replaced with champagne; a secondhand beat-up old car has been replaced with a luxury vehicle.
But I am still hungry, very hungry. There is danger at the edge of town, there is trouble in our heartland, there is evil that walks besides us. There is a deep pain.
My pain has not diminished, my hunger has not subsided, the darkness has not gone away from my heart. The edge is still there. My body may be older, bear some scars, some body parts no longer function as they should; a knee, an elbow, some broken fingers, but the pain, the hunger still lingers. For me it cannot be otherwise.
I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust, I matured through the pain of endless wars and campaigns, and now we live in the on-going aftermath of the most brutal October massacres and the worlds' apathy towards our pain. There is a darkness that does not go away, there are images that do not fade. There is a hunger that cannot be satisfied by "success".
I want to go out tonight and teach so that others can handle the hatred that plagues this world, the badlands that break hearts, the evil that walks besides us. The fire inside me has not diminished, the pain has not subsided, the hunger is still there.
The image of the Jewish boy in the Warsaw Ghetto with his hands raised as a Nazi points a rifle at him lives side by side with the image of our children tied up by Hamas terrorists, the so called "Militants" as the West calls them, we will stare in the faces, we will fight back.
The poor musician sits on the subway platform, his guitar weeps as the world slowly turns, the young dancer dances until her toes can take no more, she dreams of glory, I walk home late at night from the Oyama dojo, pain but glory. The streets speak to me of hunger and dreams, of darkness and glory. I meet a man in a bad part of town, he is hitting the wooden dummy and practicing the art of Kung Fu, the streets are alive, a Chinese immigrant pours out the soap on the sidewalk washing away the filth of the day, the nighttime jungle is alive with dreams. There is a hunger that drives us all forward. There is an edge that we all feel.
And I still hungry.
Old Warriors never fade away.
Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.
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