Krav Maga Honor
By Moshe Katz


Honor Your Elders

The Bible teaches us about the unfortunate rivalry between two brothers, Jacob and Esau. For all parents who have had to deal with this situation it should bring at least some comfort to know that even the great patriarch Isaac and the matriarch Rebecca, were not above the problem of sibling rivalry.

My late father, Rabbi Paul M. Katz of blessed memory, would often point out that it is the human qualities of our ancient holy Biblical ancestors that we learn from the most. We see their human failings, how they coped with them and overcame them, and we are inspired and motivated by their example. As the Bible teaches us, there is no man who does not error. As there is no man without fault there is also almost no man without some redeeming qualities.

We are taught that Jacob and Esau were rivals even in the womb. This rivalry only became worse with the years. Favoritism on the part of the parents did not help matters.

Esau is described as a hunter and a violent man and yet he had honor. We do not read of him having deceived anyone and we do know that he honored his father greatly. In fact nothing mattered more to him than to receive his father’s blessing. When the blessing went to Jacob he decided to kill his brother.

Despite his rage towards his only brother he would still not do anything that would cause pain to his father. Thus he says, “I shall wait until the days of mourning for my father come.” He would only take his revenge on Jacob after the death of his father.

There is much for us to learn from this behavior. As long as the patriarch is alive he exerts a certain curtailing influence on those who follow him. The son, student, disciple, does not want to dishonor the patriarch, he does not want to cause him pain or anguish.

In Judaism we have a saying, “May your eyes always behold your teachers”, as long as you can envision your holy teachers - you will do nothing wrong, you will stay on the correct path. Their proper example will keep you from harm.

Krav Maga instructors must be more than just combative instructors. In IKI we believe that there must be a strong moral element as well. This is essential to guide us to correct behavior, both business-wise and in determining when and whom to fight. Sadly we do not lack examples of instructors who have misused their position of authority and have shamed the martial arts community.

We as teachers must set the example. We must set an example by leading a proper life and by showing respect for our own teachers and parents. We must cultivate a proper teacher-student relationship, honor our students, never take advantage of them. We must realize that as teachers/instructors/mentors we have a great responsibility.

I have been teaching for many years. I have seen a generation grow up in my community. My students have gone on to become soldiers, fighters and teachers themselves and I hear my words echoing through their souls and resonating through their lives. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing a gentle warrior emerge, a scholar/fighter, a leader in his own right.

None of us will have a hundred percent success rate, even Isaac and Rebecca had their challenges, but if we follow the proper example of our elders/parents/teachers and mentors, hopefully we can produce a Jacob, a “gentle man who dwells in tents“, but when necessary can wrestle with God and man and prevail.