Original Article Published On The Jerusalem Post
In these troubles times, with anti-semitism and worse apparently on the rise everywhere, it’s not a bad idea to learn some kind of self-defense. The fact that lots of other people are doing so is demonstrated by one simple statistic: The martial arts industry reportedly generates annual revenues of more than $1 billion.
The Jewish segment of that market is, understandably, much smaller. But there are ways to protect body and soul with a Jewish twist, or kvetch.
You might start out with an Israeli technique. Recent ads in New York’s Village Voice for krav maga (translated as contact combat) invite people to “learn street effective techniques designed by the Israel Defense Forces” at http://www.kravmagainc.com). The history of krav maga provided on another site, http://www.kravmaga.com explains how Imi Lichtenfeld, born in Bratislava, developed the form in Israel just prior to independence, when “Israelis were not permitted to bear arms, yet individuals needed to defend themselves.”
Martial arts in Israel have a rich history. At http://www.geocities.com (site of the Hisardut [Survival] Dennis Ju- Jitsu Foundation), learn how founder Dennis Hanover left Moshav Moledet, and opened a dojo in Tel Aviv in 1966. He taught Budoka (the first multiple martial arts style), then Judokwai, the first Israeli mixed judo-karate-jujitsu program. You will also learn about Japan disinviting Israel from a karate tournament in 1979 (“under Arab pressure,” it says), and about the debate (at the time) over whether martial arts in Israel should be taught under police supervision.
http://www.jujitsu.org.il notes that jujitsu’s roots are ju meaning “gentle” and jitsu meaning “art” in Japanese. On this site, you can also view actual techniques (with a warning that they are “dangerous and it is forbidden to do them without guidance”). There’s also a list of dojos, or clubs, in Israel.
If you are more comfortable reading than kicking, go to http://www.kodesh.org “Tora-Torah” is a weekly column on the portion of the week, with insights into the inner aspects of Jewish martial arts as taught by Grand Master H.I. Sobers Association.
For another faith’s take on martial arts, read “Should a Christian Practice the Martial Arts,” at http://www.equip.org Or try http://www.probe.org to read entries like “Self-defense or turn the other cheek?”
Finally, you can read about Rabbi Sarah Graff of Palo Alto, California, at http://www.jewishsf.com She “combines the movements of tae kwon with the traditional cantillations used in the Torah reading, saying, “I teach the side kick, which resembles the wishbone shape of etnachta [one of the cantillation marks, or tropes], with the chanting of etnachta.”