The Language of Krav-Maga
In the summer of 1971, after the graduation ceremony of the first Krav Maga instructors course in history, which was conducted by Imi in cooperation with the Wingate institute, Imi tolled me that the most important thing in the Krav Maga today is, to have as much instructors as possible to spread the art and, that everyone would learn the names of the exercises and the movements in Hebrew. The Krav Maga as a martial art had indeed gained international recognition, as a result from the hundreds of instructors that were qualified during the years. However, only a few today, if any, outside of Israel, are teaching the Krav Maga in its original language, Imi's language, the Hebrew.
Imi spoke fluently a number of European languages, however, although he lived in Israel for many decades, he did not succeeded making the Hebrew his language. The Hebrew he spoke, regardless to the fact it was accurate, was sometimes a bit strange, and more than once his students had corrected him in one word or another. But, when he taught us the names of the exercises, his language was clear and sure and, even if from time to time the name he gave to a certain exercise was somewhat unexpected, he always had a prepared answer for us: "I speak Hebrew that I myself understand" he responded, and by this ending the argument.
Already by the name Imi gave to each exercise, the student can already know how the exercise should be done. For some of the punches, the movements and the exercises, he even created Hebrew names that actually did not exist in Hebrew, but over the years they became an inseparable part of it. For example: Makat Zirtit, Karit Kaf Haregel etc. Most of the martial arts today come form the far east, Japan, China, Korea and, each profession rigidly preserves the names of the exercises and movements in the original language, the Judo in Japanese, the Kung-Fu in Chinese and the Ta-Kwan-Do in Korean.
This allows international meetings between languages which do not have nothing in common, however, people from different nationalities are able to train together with out any difficult. Only in the Krav Maga, we see a situation in which the names of the exercises had been translated accordingly to the country where they are taught. This situation is wrong not only because of its international effect, but also because the translation of the names, as I have seen and heard in various places, is not similar, is not expressing and is not explaining the exercise like it was created by Imi, and by that everyone comes out losing. Keeping the tradition in a martial art is a basic principle. It is time to do it also in the Krav Maga and to give to the man who created such a unique martial art, the respect and honor he deserved. It is not enough to hang a picture of Imi and to bounce to it, when it is actually empty of contents. We must understand the spirit of Imi and the spirit of the martial art he created.
To everywhere I arrive I teach in the original language of the Krav Maga, by a method I specially developed, and that had proven itself over and over, even if the beginning is a little hard, after some time it becomes very enjoyable and gives the student a unique sense of solidarity.
I would be happy to assist to everyone that will turn to me and would like to know how the Krav Maga can be taught in Hebrew.
Grand Master Yaron Lichtenstein
MYTH: Krav-Maga is a physical activity with a few exercises which we can learn quickly.
MYTH: Krav-Maga has three punches with the hand and two kicks.
MYTH: Krav-Maga was created in the Israeli army.
MYTH: Krav-Maga was created in 1930 / Krav-Maga was created in 1940 to train the Jewish army / Krav-Maga was created to the defend groups that fought for the independence of Israel / Krav-Maga began among Europe's Jewish resistance movements / Krav-Maga was created with the independence of Israel.
MYTH: Imi had 13 students.
MYTH: black belt Diplomas signed by Imi.
MYTH: Anyone can teach Krav-Maga.
MYTH: The special forces of the Israeli army use Krav-Maga.
MYTH: Krav-Maga is a sport / fight / combat system / physical fitness activity and blah blah blah
MYTH: Videos on YouTube, Hollywood movies, American TV series etc.
MYTH: Colorful Kimono, no Kimono, ballerina shoes, two color belt etc.
MYTH: People who say they teach Krav-Maga but actually mix a little of each thing they saw some day on some Tatami and call it Krav-Maga. Shame on you!
And worse, people who just think they know Krav-Maga because they watch a Steven Seagal or Jackie Chan movies (with all due respect to the actors, nothing against them, but do not forget that their principal intention and their job is to entertain others and not to teach self defense which is a very serious thing since it involves people's lives).
MYTH: Krav-Maga is composed only of the techniques we learn in the Tatami.
MYTH: Imi created some types of Krav-Maga, for exemple MilitaryKrav-Maga, civil Krav-Maga, Krav-Maga kapap, Commando Krav-Maga, various associations, federations and confederations and do not forget the Anti- tsunami Krav-Maga, Krav-Maga against meteor shower, special Krav-Maga against hurricanes, Anti-Tank Krav-Maga and air-defense Krav-Maga.
MYTH: Imi used a red-white belt.
Zen and Krav-Maga
I could easily fill pages by the thousands about Imi, after all, I have lived with him every day, for more than thirty years. But I am sure that every one that will search the web for "Krav Maga" will find an endless number of sites and material about Imi. Therefore, I have decided bravely to put on writing an unknown part about Imi, known maybe just to a few (or less) lucky ones.
In the year of 1974, a year after the big storm the country had passed, and I personally, I sat with Imi in his favorite coffee shop - "Ugati" and talked with him about my personal experience and if in any way my injuries had affected my physical ability. We were just chatting over a morning coffee when suddenly he asked me a question that took me by surprise and left me with a big question mark on my face: "Lichtenshtein, do you think you can try something new and different from everything you have ever known?" I automatically nodded my head without a second thought. Imi was a father, a friend, a brother, a teacher, an admired person and much more. And in my many years of knowing him he had never turned to me like that. I stared at him with surprise on my face when he took out from his coat pocket a small black book and handed over the book to me and with a small twinkle in his left eye show me to put the book in my bag that was lining on the floor and said: "this is just for you".
The book was about wisdom of Zen. It was the first time I ever encounter this term. Along the years that followed, Imi pointed me in time to time, from one book to another that were about Zen, and even helped me, by showing and practicing with me movements and exercises in Krav Maga to understand what Zen is saying that is not possible to understand in any other way.
Along the years since, I practiced it nonstop, to understand more correctly and better the combination between Zen, Zen-Buddism and Krav Maga and we have wrote about it also in our first book. This hidden passage that Imi opened for me took me to a different insight of the Krav Maga and life themselves.
First we must understand where things had began. The greatest teachers:
1 - Jigoro Kano - founder of the Judo
2 - Morihei Ueshiba - founder of the Aikido
3 - Gichin Funakoshi - founder of the Karate
All came from the background of Zen and Shinto. All of the martial arts grew up from the roots of Zen-Buddhism and the mighty culture of the samurais. Imi, although he was not an oriental man in his body, was very close to be one in his mind, and from here comes his greatness and strength in creating such a unique martial art.
Zen cannot be prcticed in the library or in front of the television. Zen must be practiced daily.
Zen is casted deep in the movements of the Krav Maga, created by Imi.
Krav Maga could be practiced in the best and most effective way basing on body movements alone. Flexibility, quickness and power are enough in order to create a good Krav Maga practitioner. But is it enough? The small book Imi gave me took me to far and different places, to another world that explains the unexplainable, to comprehend what is not comprehensible. Simple exercises become living movements and give a new meaning to the new ways of the Krav Maga and the power of mind from the ages of the samurais.
Teaching for more than 45 years, I awarded and qualified dozens of black belts, and always in the distribution ceremony of the black belt and the diploma I gave the small black book I got from Imi. Some of them ignored it and continued in the daily life. Others, the braves among them, came to me to ask, to know, to open their minds and to understand beyond the body movements also the strength of the mind, to sense and to feel even the smallest of the body movements. As a teacher, soon enough I founded myself captured by the responsibility of opening the same doorway to my students, at least to those who expressed there will, they gained another profit from the art of Krav Maga.
It is true that Imi developted and founded the Krav Maga based in the ideology and principle of exercises and body movements only, but we should not forget that his first steps, the Krav Maga did in the different security forces, in courses that lasted no more than a few hours, in accordance with the specific required training. In these conditions it is hard to pass on and to develop an art that continue for many years. Thus, the pure physical ideology is still right. But did we really never stop to ask and wonder about a deeper truth, where is the missing link that connect us, the Krav Maga people, to the traditional arts of the far east, how can one achieve the same quality of self control that is projecting in every aspect of life.
Our physical body that we were born with, and with which we will end our chapter of life on earth, is all that we have. We can make it stronger by endless training, we can improve the quality of our flexibility and the lightness of the motion and to improve a little our natural speed that was given to us by nature in the moment of birth, but in the end all of this things are finals, as hard as we will try to change them.
However, one thing was given to us without any limit or restriction - the power of mind: there is not a single thing faster than the power of the thought, and the understanding, sharp and fast like a sword in its movement.
It is my belief that every trainer and a Krav Maga man should take upon himself the sharpness of understanding and the responsibility of passing and comprehending of what is beyond.
When we established the school of Krav Maga, the first in Israel and in the world, nothing stood against my eyes but the will to give from my knowledge and experience from dozens of years with Imi.
And to you, who entered this modest site of my and find interest, I will gladly respond and help in any question.
The Language of Krav-Maga
MYTH X FACT
Zen and Krav-Maga