What You Cannot Imagine

March 7, 2024, Israel

What you cannot imagine you cannot defend

We are still trying to process what went wrong on October 7, 2023, although to me it is obvious and predictable. All the warning signs were there and yet the Israeli leadership fell asleep at the wheel. I recently heard an expert explain it as follows: Imagine you spotted two Russian submarines in the Mediterranean Sea, armed with nuclear warheads. Would you evacuate Tel Aviv and the surrounding cities?   The answer is a clear no.

But why?

The reason is that it is simply unimaginable that they would start a nuclear war. In another words, even if all the signs pointed to one clear conclusion, we would still ignore it for the simple reason that such an action is unimaginable. 

Let us ponder that thought for a moment. All the evidence points to one conclusion. All the logic indicates a certain action, and yet we choose not to act upon it because it is "simply unimaginable". 

In other words, our emotions override all the evidance and empirical studies. In Israel we see knife attacks taking place, and yet, Krav Maga classes are not filling up. All over the world we see extreme violence and yet, very few people take up self-defense training of any kind. The evidance is there, but...we prefer to say - I simply cannot imagine it. and then we continue with our daily lives.

That phrase, I cannot imagine it, is the cry of losers. There are people stuck in miserable lives and cannot see a way out of it. And yet, there are others, in the exact same situation, who imagine, who dream, of success. And they achieve it. If you believe it, you might achieve it. But if you cannot imagine a better life or a better job or a better relationship than the one you have right now, then surely you will never have a chance to have more. You must first dream!

My father, may he rest in peace, had a summer job working for a certain Mrs. Walbaum. Yes, that became the extremely successful chain of Waldbaum's stores. At its peak in the 1980s, it was the 12th largest supermarket chain in the United States and had 140 stores throughout the New York metropolitan area. It was started by two Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, they dared to believe and they dared to imagine. One who cannot imagine, cannot succeed. 

In our case, we need to imagine not success in business but unfortunately, the reality of violence. If we cannot imagine that the bad guy really intends to do what he says he will do, then we have no chance to defend ourselves. In our case we need to be able to imagine the worst possible senario, only then can we prepare for it. If we remain complacent in LaLa Land, we have no chance. Hitler not only spoke prolifically about his intentions via via the Jews, but he actually published a book about it, a best seller named Mein Kampf, it was all there in print, in plain black and white. But, yes, that is correct, the Jews at the time "simply could not imagine" that he would do what he openly planned to do. We know the tragic results. We should not repeat those results, and yet that is precisely what happened on October 7, 2023.

As Krav Maga instructors we must do more than just train physically, that is not enough. Israel has proven how well it can fight as it continues to clobber Hamas and Hizballah and all the terrorist organizations but yet, on October 7 Israel was not prepared. Why? not for lack of military prowess, but for lack of imagination, a refusal to imagine the worst possible scenario. And that is what we, as Krav Maga instructors, must do. We must imagine.

We must imagine being attacked, knowing how to defend ourselves is not enough. It is like knowing how to use a tool while that tool is locked away in a box and we can't find the key. The tools become useless. We need to be prepared to be surprised. We need to be able to imagine the worst so that it does not come as a surprise. We must not be the rookie cop or the soldier on his first tour of duty. We must be the veteran fighter whose eyes have seen hell. We must be prepared for hell, to thrive in Hell, in the darkness and the heat, in the cold and in the dark. We must enter into that Darkness and learn to thrive in it. Then, we will be Krav Maga students and instructors in the truest way. What we cannot imagine - we cannot defend. It is time to learn to Imagine, it is time to change how we train. 


Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.

Understand the Israeli Fighting Mentality - Israel a Nation of Warriors by Moshe Katz


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