Krav Maga Nice Idea
By Moshe Katz
CEO Israeli Krav International

Chaim Witz, a.k.a Gene Simmons

May 9, 2014, Maaleh Adumim

As a teenager I was a big fan of the rock group KISS, just a bit. My older brother told me, "When you do something, Moshe, you do it all the way!"

He pointed out that he bought one album, I liked it and bought all their albums. He attended one meeting of the local Jewish defense chapter, I joined and eventually became the local leader.

He actually meant to say that I go too far. But I see it as another positive insult. I do not think it is wrong to be an extremist. It is good to be extremely talented, or work extremely hard and become extremely successful. 

Yes, I liked the band so I bought their first 16 albums, then the 4 solo albums by the band members and then I saw them in concert. And then I moved back to Israel and got busy with fighting for Jewish rights.

Today I heard an interview with Chaim Witz, so what is the connection?

Chaim Witz is known to most Americans as Gene Simmons, the lead singer and bass guitarist for the mega band KISS. But to us he just Chaim Witz from Haifa, Israel, an Israeli boy who made it big in America, the son of Holocaust survivors. His band-mate Paul Stanley is also Jewish, his real name is Stanley Eisen and the family hails from Berlin, Germany.

Chaim had a thing or two to say about certain attitudes people have about Israel. I found his comments truthful, hardcore reality and very relevant to our study of Krav Maga. I want to adapt his words of wisdom from national defense to personal defense; the IKI Krav Maga approach.

Often the people teaching us self-defense come from a very different mindset and a very different reality. I am not saying that in order to teach self-defense you must come from a bad neighborhood, that you must have been in many street fights or that you must have lived a shady life. No, but I am saying that in order to understand the reality of self defense you must immerse yourself in the psychological study of crime, hate and violence. You must "walk a mile in another' mans' shoes". You must feel it.

Many of the greatest actors of our time have portrayed criminals, prostitutes, soldiers, etc while never having actually been those in real life. And yet they were very convincing on stage. How? Why?

The answer is they researched the part, they "lived" the part, They interviewed and hung out with real soldiers, or real prostitutes. One actress even hung out on street corners with real "pros" to get a deeper understanding of their mindset and lifestyle. She then made a hit movie.

As one of my teachers said, "You do not need to be a triangle to teach Geometry". But you do need to study it in depth.

To understand real self defense, you have to really feel the pain of others. You have to internalize the fear, the danger. It must become a part of you.

Chaim was talking about Israel, "If you have never been to the moon you cannot issue policy about the moon. You have no F....idea what it is like on the moon."

Yes, true, I agree.

Chaim was upset about people who offer advice but they themselves live far away from trouble, geographically and emotionally.

"How about you live there and try to defend an indefensible border."  Surrounded by people who hate your guts".

It is like some policy maker in government lecturing kids in the inner city to "use their words" to defend against drug dealers and street thugs. You do not live here, you do not understand what we face every day of our lives!

We all have nice ideas about what should be done to solve problems, only thing is that they do not match reality.

Chaim says, "It is a nice idea. When you grow up you find out that life isn't the way you imagined it."

"President....means well, I think he is actually a good guy. He has no idea what its' like because he does not have to live there".

True, true, all true.

We all grow up with nice ideas.

Recently I saw a video clip of a knife defense. Goodness! It was a poor version of what I was taught 30 years ago.

We had learned this technique from Itay. We practiced it, we believed in it, but then we began to question it. Yes, we questioned that which we believed in, that which we loved and knew so well.

I personally began to doubt this technique. It worked well for me in the gym, when I was expecting it, but even then, honestly, I must admit, it did not always work perfectly. But, I got my black belt, so ..whatever.

But the doubts bothered me. Itay too had doubts. In time we dropped this technique, the technique that we loved so much. We realized that in the stress of real life case we would be unlikely to pull it off successfully. We dropped it totally and came up with something much more effective.

Our knife defenses continue to evolve and improve. Soon we will be making a new DVD on Defense vs Knife Attacks, available only to IKI Members.

Yet yesterday I saw an exaggerated version of this technique on Facebook. It was the old technique with a bit more of a fancy twist. I was saddened, disappointed.

Why do other schools of Krav Maga continue to teach techniques that we dismissed years ago, even decades ago?

Because they do not "live there". They do not imagine the real danger apparently. They do not "imagine your opponent in front of you always" as the great master Gichin Funakoshi advised us.

If the threat is not real to you, if you not "live there" in the words of Chaim Witz, then you will be quite comfortable teaching the old way forever.

I have met those who tried those techniques and I have seen their scars.

I spent years training in martial arts that seemed like a "good idea". I consider those my growing up years. But as Chaim said we all grow up with a lot of nice ideas but when we get older, more mature, we realize that life isn't the way we imagined it.

I realized that as much as I loved the styles I was training in I really was not at all prepared for reality. I had to change.

I had to first change the way I thought and then change the way I trained. I learned to train not harder but smarter.

The result is IKI, an ever changing and always evolving style of Krav Maga which is adaptable to many body types and many personality types.

The adaptations are already in the system. You just need to learn and comprehend the concepts. Once you understand the concepts you can adapt the techniques for someone very large, someone with short legs, someone with a handicap, etc. At that point you will have a solution to all your problems.

IKI is a flexible system; understand the concept and the techniques will easily follow.

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