As Israel celebrates 70 years of existence, we can stop to reflect on the fact that in so short a time a nation under constant siege from hostile states has contributed so many positive inventions for the rest of humanity. Most of the technology used today whether it’s a mobile phone, computer chip, Facebook, anti-virus software, teleconferencing software or the battery of your electric car, originated in Israel.
Since it’s beginning in 1948, the State of Israel has faced many hostile players in the restless, convoluted political landscape of the Middle East. Having its back against the wall on many occasions has forced Israel to become very innovative. It is this constant state of innovation
that keeps Israel ahead of the competition and on the cutting edge.
Another area that Israel has demonstrated important advances are in the areas of the military and security. A byproduct of both of these fields is Krav Maga, an intense self-defense system designed to train an individual against a personal aggression regardless of sex, age or size. Krav Maga is the essence of Israel: Defending oneself against all odds.
Developed in the 1930s by Imi Lichtenfeld, a Hungarian born Jew, Krav Maga uses natural movements and reactions as defense followed by an immediate, decisive counter-attack. In 1944 Lichtenfeld began training the Israeli Defense Forces with these techniques. It was not until 1964, when Lichtenfeld retired from the army that the civilian aspects of Krav Maga were developed and taught. Men and women were both encouraged to participate and engage in Krav. It doesn’t require any particular skill and everyone is allowed to participate.
Krav Maga raises your sense of awareness and as you engage in learning the techniques you become more self-confident of your ability to fight back an aggressor. For many women, this could be a sexual predator or serial rapist. Having the knowledge to fight back effectively empowers the person rather than being a victim. Being able to fight back gives one a greater sense of security instead of falling into a state of depressing victimhood.
Learning the self-defense craft of Krav Maga mirrors the history of Israel fighting to legitimize its existence in a hostile environment. Many times Israel’s statehood was challenged whether it was the Six Day War, the many acts of terrorism like the killing of Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972, the Sabena Flight 571 hijacking also in ‘72, and the Air France hijacking of 1976 ending with the famous rescue raid on Entebbe. The idea is always to defend and counter-attack any aggression. In the case of the plane hijackings, Israelis did not negotiate with the terrorists to resolve the issue. The negotiations were really just to buy time in order to get their anti-terrorist forces organized to execute a planned and coordinated attack. At the time other governments wanted to give in to terrorist demands. Belgium, for example, wanted to give the Sabena hijackers 5 million dollars to end the standoff. Eventually, specially trained commandos raided and ended the hijacking, just as they did in Entebbe in a much larger military operation.
On a personal level, Krav Maga sets the mindset so that we can also defend and counter strike rather than give in to an aggressor’s demands. Through consistent training, our minds are set up in a way that responds to aggression when it crosses our path. We bypass the usual fears a non-trained person would have which is if an aggressor is larger, heavier or armed with a weapon. It doesn’t mean we are not afraid, we simply react according to our training. We assess a dangerous situation and take the necessary action to address the aggression.
As Israel celebrates it’s 70 years, the world should take notice not just of the technological inventions, but also how this tiny nation of 8.5 million is empowering the average and non-average individual how to defend oneself and being free from becoming just another victim or statistic.