Train My Hands for Battle

Neil Goldstein Glick thinks that every LGBT person should take lessons in Krav Maga. It’s a Zionist way to defend yourself.

NeilGoldsteinGlick180x200On October 12, 1998 gay 21-year-old Matthew Shepherd died after sustaining horrific injuries in a gay bashing in Wyoming. His senseless death awakened a nation to the sometimes tragically violent struggles the LGBT community faces.

Jews have been on the receiving end of violence for over 2000 years. Hate crimes are a challenge we continually face. In April 2014, three people were murdered at the Kansas City, Missouri Jewish Community Center by a former member of the KKK. The three victims were not Jews, but the murderer thought they were and killed them.

Last summer, Israel rightfully responded to the thousands of missiles Hamas sent from Gaza. This at of self-defense set off anti-Semitism throughout the USA on college campuses, synagogues and at the buildings of Jewish organization.

In Europe, it was worse. Jews were openly attacked in the streets. Jews in almost every European country witnessed terrible anti-Semitism. There are the Jewish martyrs of modern France, most recently the victims of the Hyper Cacher Market, attacked right after the Charlie Hebdo terror attack.

As LGBT Jews, we have a double whammy when it comes to bullying and intolerance. How can we be prepared? How can we feel confident walking down the street? How can we fight off a potential attacker?

There is a Jewish-Zionist response: KRAV MAGA.

A young Jewish-Slovakian national wrestling and boxing champion, Imi Lichtenfeld, lived in the very anti-Semitic environment of 1920’s and 1930’s Czechoslovakia. With his fellow Jewish boxers and wrestlers, he patrolled his neighborhood and community using boxing techniques. He learned the hard way, that his skills were not meant for street fights. He created new techniques for defending his person and attacking his attackers.

Imi created Krav Maga, which translates to “Contact Combat.” Krav Maga is arguably the single most effective form of self-defense. Krav Maga is simultaneous defense and attack with the goal of quickly neutralizing your attacker.

After immigrating to British Mandate Palestine, fighting in World War II and the Israel War of Independence, Imi fine tuned Krav Maga. Krav Maga was quickly adopted as the hand-to-hand combat technique of the newly created Israel Defense Forces. Almost everyone in the IDF studies some level of Krav Maga.

The earliest recruits to the military were of all ages and all ages, shapes, and sizes. Imi made Krav accessible to all types of people – women and men of all abilities. Krav is not only for athletes, but for the pudgy person who sits behind a desk all day. The brilliance of Krav is that it is accessible to everyone.

צוּרִי הַמְלַמֵּד יָדַי לַקְרָב אֶצְבְּעוֹתַי לַמִּלְחָמָה, השם בָּרוּךְ

Blessed is the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for combat, my fingers for war (Psalm 144)

Immediately, after my very first Krav Maga lesson, confidence in my personal safety and defense increased ten fold. One year of boxing taught me how to punch hard, but did not give me a similar level of assurance. Krav Maga gives every dedicated student an understanding on how to protect oneself.

Krav Maga moves are not difficult but they require regular practice and knowledgeable teachers. You cannot learn Krav Maga from watching videos or taking a class one time.

I study Krav through the Krav Maga Federation. Recently in Israel, I took lessons through Impact Krav Maga. Even 6000 miles apart, the moves and techniques are the same. Training with Israeli students and Israeli Krav Maga Masters, I was at home. After every lesson, I walk away with more abilities on how to protect and defend all that I love and hold dear.

Some might think “I’m not in the condition to do Krav.” The 93-year-old World War II Veteran who is in my class would not buy that argument. If he can do it at 93, so can you at any age. Remember, Krav Maga was created to be accessible to people of all abilities.

When it comes to training do your research. The best instructors are those with a direct or indirect connection to Krav Maga in Israel and the teachings of Imi Lichtenfeld.

In March 2015, in the Washington DC Metro, a 20-year-old man was attacked and pushed onto the tracks because, as the criminal said, the victim “looked gay.” In 2015, there were at least 21 trans people murdered in the United States alone. We do not need to add to the statistics. We do not need another Matthew Shepherd.

Once again, Israel is provoked by missiles from Hamas. Jews are being attacked and murdered in the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv by intolerant, bloodthirsty Palestinians.

Tensions are flaring. We do not know how this will play out and impact Jewish communities all over the world. For this reason and more, all Jews – especially LGBT ones – need to be prepared to defend our institutions and our selves.

Krav Maga is our Jewish-Zionist response to bullying and anti-Semitism. Physical attacks of our enemies can be stopped and attackers neutralized. Stand up and fight back. Study Krav Maga, and be prepared.





krav maga training in israel