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Para Bellum

Following last weekend’s gruelling one hour grading 5 students took up the challenge and have now progressed onto the next level after successfully showcasing a myriad of techniques and defences both standing and on the ground. As my students await their diplomas from our Israel headquarters I will briefly describe the features of the diploma. The diploma depicts ancient Hebrew coins minted from a time long gone when the Hebrews routed the Roman Empire from the Holy Land. The graphics portray an awesome precedence of Israeli fighting spirit. Many nations stood up to the Romans but no other nation was able to defeat the armies of Rome in its heyday. Inscribed on the coins are the words: “For the redemption of Israel, the freedom of Jerusalem”, words that ring true to this very day.

I am surprised how many people in New Zealand are either uninformed or misinformed about Israel and the Middle East. I have even spoken with educated professional people who have expressed beliefs that the problem between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel is because the United Nations dumped all the Jews in Palestine after the Second World War. Others believe the Jews do not have a long history as a patriarchal warrior people. This is one of the reasons I enjoy teaching Krav Maga, it gives me the satisfaction of bestowing self-defence skills as well as providing the opportunity to educate and explain about Israel.

What seems to me as a restatement of the obvious is something entirely new to others.

Many minds were drawn towards the establishment of the modern state of Israel dating back to the turn of last century. It was a concerted effort involving both political and socioeconomic endeavours often resulting in violence and bloodshed. I don’t have the time to elaborate on this in a blog but the roots and growth of modern Israel took place well before the Second World War. I am surprised how many people do not understand this simple fact.

Krav Maga is not a modern martial arts fad but is part of the rich Hebrew warrior heritage which predates many warrior cultures. Architectural maxim follows function; this analogy applies to Krav Maga. In Krav Maga we have no complicated multiple step self-defence moves, no fancy kicks, no intricate weapon forms, no tournaments our architectural maxim is simply built on winning and surviving. As Moshe Katz eloquently explained in his blog First Impression we are not there to impress but simply deal with the danger and get home safe to our families.

Some folk have told me that Krav Maga reminds them of preparing to go to war using just hand to hand skills, which is a true observation. In Israel everyone does their military service and wants to contribute to the nation’s defence and gun ownership is extremely high. There is no swagger, rags, bandanas or intertwined fingers as young people casually sport an assault rifle or pistol whilst snacking at a café or waiting for public transport. There is simply solemn understanding that war is looming, nobody knows where or when only that it is certain and armed conflict is a duty and an unfortunate reality. The Romans had a pithy saying for this truism “Si vis pacem para bellum”.

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