SUNY New Paltz

The New Paltz ORACLE

Volume 15 Issue 79

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Student’s Learn to Watch Their Ass

Abby Giller practices a Krav Maga technique under the instruction of Moshe Katz who came to campus last Monday night. Photo by Alison Stevens

By Amy Lubinski, Copy Editor

Everyone knows what karate is, but what about Krav Maga? Krav Maga might sound like the newest vamped-up version of Tae Bo, but it’s not even close. Krav Maga is close quarters combat and the official fighting system of the Israeli army used for one purpose -- not fitness, not meditation, but self defense.

New Paltz students were introduced to Krav Maga last Monday night by expert and trainer Moshe Katz. Katz is currently on his sixth American tour of college campuses within three years, teaching students how to defend themselves in threatening situations.

The event was sponsored by Hillel, Chabad, Hawks for Israel and Zionist Organization of America.

Krav Maga originated in the battlefield to defend against armies but was adapted in the ‘60s so that ordinary citizens could use it if they ever faced an aggressive situation in everyday life.

“You have to be able to respond in the worst situation,” Katz said. “The attitude is ‘We will not be victims, we will fight back.’”

Though defending oneself against potential terrorists or rapists is no laughing matter, Katz manages to fuse humor into his teachings. For example, Katz explained to students that if an attacker had them trapped in a bear hug, the victim should quickly twist his or her entire body reaching down and grabbing the attacker’s groin, a move he calls “the twist and shout,” Katz said. “Because when you twist, he shouts.”

Katz also incorporates many cultural references into his teachings, such as when he demonstrated what students should do if a gun is pointed at the back of their head. Katz instructed students to raise their arms up in a position that resembled surrendering to the police, then to, “spin like a dreidel,” to grab the attacker’s wrists and push down on their arms.

Katz has been training for 21 years in many forms of martial arts including Krav Maga, karate, kickboxing, kung fu and Japanese and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Katz was introduced to martial arts by his rabbi but seeing “The Karate Kid” as suggested by his sister-in-law is what really sparked his interest.

Since 1990, Katz has been training in Krav Maga with Itay Gil, a former trainer of Israel’s Counter Terror Force and expert panelist featured on The History Channel’s “The Human Weapon.”

For the past 15 years, Katz has been teaching Krav Maga, according to “My goals are to give people a positive image of Israel and a basic sense of an empowerment,” Katz said.

The main lesson Katz tries to teach students is that they can always defend themselves, no matter what the situation might be, as long as they have the right attitude. “I had a woman tell me once, ‘I can’t defend myself! I’m only 5’1” and 100 pounds!’ And I said of course you can’t defend yourself, and for one reason only, because you just told me you can’t,” Katz said to students. “If you do it right, it doesn’t matter how big the guy is. You may not go home with a tournament trophy, but you will have defended yourself.”