We just had a visitor from Russia. He took advantage of a two day vacation and flew in to Israel for eight hours a day of Krav Maga and shooting. While he was here he also participated in a couple of kids Krav classes.
I hoped that he would not be troubled by the kids. Our kids here tend to be very free spirited. They train hard but are not quite as obedient as Chinese kids (or at least as they appear in all those Kung fu film/Shaolin films). He was pleasantly surprised to discover that many of the kids spoke English, Hebrew and Russian fluently. With the in-gathering of the Jewish exiles many of our students have roots in Russia, where there was a large Jewish community. Our visitor also had Jewish roots but the combination of Nazism and Communism obliterated any trace of it.
It is funny how things which seem natural in one culture are odd or fascinating to another. During our rifle disarm session our guest Ilya began to laugh. I asked him why. He said "A ten year old was explaining to a younger boy how to properly hold an M-16 rifle and why this is the preferred method." Hmm, seemed totally natural to me.
He sent me a thank you letter and wrote the following words of wisdom, "I actually think about those kids - they may or may not remember the techniques, but they are learning the spirit, something that will last for the rest of their lives. That's great.
Again, this is something I had not really thought about, but it is true. The spirit of Krav Maga will always be with them. What is this spirit? It is the spirit of not being a victim, the spirit of fighting back, of not giving in, of resistance. It is the spirit that says; no matter what happens I can still recover, if I fall down I can get up, if I fail I can still succeed, if I am last I can still be first.It is the spirit that says, even if things are looking bad, even if it all seems hopeless, it is not over as long as I do not give up. In Israel we have a saying, "We got through Paroh, we shall get through this."
A "soft" life does not prepare one for challenges. On our Tour and Train program we often watch the film "Defiance"; in this true-life story of defiance against the Nazis, it was the hard working "country" Jews, the less educated, that saved the day in times of trouble. It was they and not the intellectuals who were able to make a home of the forest and provide for over a thousand refugees while the Nazis were hunting down Jews all over Europe. Their hard life, a life battling the elements, helped prepare them for the unspeakable challenges that lay ahead.
Life in Israel is full of challenges. We do not call them problems, only challenges, and challenges can be overcome, if you have the right spirit.