This is a blog I did not intend to write and wish I were not writing.
Sometimes events create their own blogs.
It seems that everything is more important than training in Krav Maga. No one seems to have the time. My dear friend and mentor Arthur Cohen would sometimes drive hours to give a free seminar and be greeted with, "Sorry, there simply was not enough interest so we canceled."
School is more important, parties are more important, whatever; somehow most people do not place Krav Maga, practical self defense training, anywhere on their list of priorities.
Why is this so?
Perhaps we have a way of thinking that bad things can never happen to us. Perhaps we think that we live in "good" neighborhoods and we are therefore somehow "safe". Maybe it requires too much effort, we don't want to risk any pain or discomfort. Perhaps it does not fit in with our life style. Perhaps we never even think about it; until it happens.
A couple of days ago I received a phone call from one of my brothers; he said, "Do you remember Mordechai?" a friend of ours from Los Angeles, I delayed and slowed down the conversation, avoiding what I knew was surely coming. Mordechai was shot the day before while meeting with a client, performing his job.
That night we dedicated our Krav class here in Israel to his memory; we worked on gun threats, we trained a little harder than unusual, we were more serious. We took only a couple of techniques and we worked on them over and over again. The guys were bruised by the end of the evening but no one complained. This is what it takes to be prepared.
Some of the guys noticed that I was "upset", and yes, I was less tolerant of small talk and idle banter than usual, I was less interested in making the lesson "interesting" and more interested in making sure everyone knew what they were doing. I did not care how many repetitions we needed to do, I did not care if we only covered two techniques in an hour and a half.
This is the way we need to train, and now and then, sadly, we get a harsh reminder.
Mordechai was a family man; he leaves behind a wife and six children, the youngest of which is only six years old. Mordechai was a religious Jew, this Sabbath his seat in the synagogue, the House of Prayer, will be empty, his prayers will not be spoken, his voice will not be heard. But his blood cries out to the heavens, and to us.
And I say "I am my brother's keeper", and I say I will not be silent. Why is Krav Maga not taught in every school? Why is it not part of every child's upbringing? What is it that there is no time for self defense training?
I said the following to our "Krav Kids" here in Israel. "Most of what you learn in school is useless information that you will soon forget. I will offer you a challenge; bring me your best teachers, put in front of them, with no preparation, an exam they took when they were your age, and let me see how they perform"
"My guarantee to you is that unless they have pursued this subject after their school years, they will fail this test and fail miserably. I spent eight years in college and remember very little. That is the way it is. But survival; this is not taught, this is not deemed important enough. By the time you are in high school you will spend most of your waking hours in school, but you will remember almost nothing a few years later."
And yet there is no time for Self Defense training, not even basic verbal self defense. And the blood screams up to the heavens, as the Torah says, "Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground".
We want God to hear the cries, and see the tears of the widows and orphans, but do we? How can we expect of God what we are unwilling to demand of ourselves? How can we be so indifferent, especially when we might be next?
My friends in law enforcement like to say, "Chance favors the prepared", there are no guarantees in life but how can we not even try, when there is so much at stake?
In Israel we like to take our pain and channel it into something productive, something life enhancing. Let us take this tragic event and use it to protect life. Perhaps someone will read this blog and raise some money to start a high school self defense program called, "In Memory of Mordechai". Perhaps a future tragedy can be prevented, perhaps, if we try, if we care.
Mordechai was a good man, I can picture him sitting at his Sabbath table, reciting the traditional blessings, surrounded by his wife and children, smiling, laughing, and telling a story.
May his memory be a blessing.