On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, I found myself under attack on the street without any provocation. This occurred while I was holding the hands of my two young children. The motive behind this assault was undeniably clear – antisemitism. It’s still a struggle for me to understand how someone who views themselves as a defender of justice could resort to violence against an innocent family without any prior interaction that might provoke aggression.

Fortunately, responding to violence is something I am accustomed to. Physically, it is my “comfort zone.” However, I had never before encountered anti-Semitic violence, and it pains me that my children had to learn about antisemitism at such a young age.

The assailant appeared to be a “normal” person, not someone who I would expect to behave violently. We didn’t move out of the way as he approached since we didn’t suspect him to be aggressive. Out of nowhere, he intruded into our personal space, bluntly inquiring about my stance on him just tearing down a poster depicting Israeli children kidnapped by a murderous terrorist organization. I politely expressed my disapproval and suggested he return it to its place. Although he immediately understood my stance, he attempted to physically attack me while I held my children’s hands.

My response was instinctive and rooted in training. I had not received any warning or “save the date” of this event, and I couldn’t have foreseen this situation just five seconds earlier. It simply happened. I effectively dodged his first punch and instinctively retaliated in self-defense.

My children were frightened; they cried and stood frozen in place. They had never before witnessed violence, despite spending many hours in the studio. While they had occasionally experienced people behaving inappropriately on the train or on the street, and at times I had to raise my voice to deter someone who was threatening us, physical violence had never crossed our path until Wednesday last week.

Immediately after fending off the attacker, he escalated the violence. As he realized that getting closer to us was not a wise idea, he attempted to strike again and again. But I kept my distance while trying to reassure my children that they were safe and had nothing to worry about. Their father is a protector, not a victim. When it comes to defending my children and their identity, I am not hesitant to act.

That night during our evening meal, I repeatedly discussed the situation and explained to them what had happened and why. I continued until they understood and found a way to process the memory. It was crucial to me that they remembered the incident in a relatively positive light, emphasizing that good had triumphed.

Krav Maga techniques are extremely effective, and training is vital. It was essential for me to make space for an “honorable escape” at the end, and let the attacker leave in peace.

After reflecting on the street incident and the discussion with my children, it became evident that I needed to share my insights with all my students.

This situation escalated rapidly before full comprehension was possible. The initial reaction is crucial, as it sets the tone for the rest of the encounter and shapes the psychological narrative we will carry forward.

My engagement was instinctive and well-trained. My body did not succumb to shock and pressure; I remained calm and in control of both myself and the situation. I reiterated that my intention was not to harm anyone, even if they deserved it. Despite my capabilities, I chose not to react forcefully and excessively to the threat to our safety. This decision was a conscious one, preserving the potential for a more “dignified” resolution to the attack—an important life lesson for my children.

My eldest son questioned why I did not employ the techniques I teach. His critical inquiry allowed me to elaborate and emphasize that responses should always be measured and aligned with the situation. I won’t resort to physical force just because I can; it is reserved for situations where there is a real genuine threat. My son understood my explanation, and I felt content with how I reflected on the situation.

Just this past Saturday, November 11, 2023, another individual fell victim to an attack just down the street from our Krav Maga studio for the same reason. Unfortunately, this person lacked training to manage such a situation and experienced some physical and emotional harm.

The increasing and unjust violence worldwide is truly disheartening. The source of the violence against Jews today has a clear name – antisemitism. Unfortunately, it stands out as the only form of racism that our society appears to still tolerate.

This is why Krav Maga was created. It originated as a response to anti-Semitic attacks in the 1930s and has evolved into the most efficient global method for countering violence today. Imi, the creator, educated the instructors who trained me, and now, like them, I must educate others to be strong and capable of protecting themselves from harm.

My knowledge and my nature is shaped by the collective experience of Jews who suffered during the Holocaust. Through the hardships, my people grew stronger and learned to fight. I am not the same as the Jews of the 1930s. I represent a different generation and a different way of thinking. We are no longer victims.

Every individual deserves the right to live with dignity and in peace. It is also our duty to do everything possible to ensure that everyone can enjoy this right. In our rights and responsibilities, we are equal.

As a long-term solution, it is evident throughout the lens of history that violence has never proven to be a lasting solution. Only education will make a real and meaningful difference.

We must teach our youth to be strong, and guide them away from the path of violence and all its forms.

Do something amazing,

Tsahi Shemesh
Founder & CEO
Krav Maga Experts


  1. I am so very sorry
    I left France because of antisemitism
    And ended up in ny as thought it a safer haven for us
    My daughter takes classes with you and she loooves it( Chaya Mazigh-Shaw)
    I have always wanted to try but with vestibular migraine(vertigo) and 3 herniated disks i never know how i ll feel
    Please continue to shine, and fight and we will always do that!

  2. Tsahi,

    I am so sorry for this encounter and it made me cry, especially for your children. However, as you say, this is our new reality and we must deal with it as you did with your incredible inner strength, knowledge and perseverance for peace, versus violence. I am in awe and overwhelmed by not only how you handled the situation, but as a father and a teacher for all of us. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m going to share it with my friends.

    Also, I am so very grateful to be part of your community and to have you as a teacher during this challenging time to be Jewish. Again, as you say we are not the same Jews from the 1930’s, we have learned the lessons and will be learning more in this new wave of antisemitism. Thank you thank you Tsahi for your inspiration!

    Am Israel Chai!

  3. Well written. So glad through training you were able to control the assault, and calmly explain the attack to your children.
    The antisemitism threat is here and I feel aggression in the air. While parking my car last week, I noticed more anger, and less patience. I have family and friends still in denial that antisemitism is alive and a threat. I hope the Jewish population in the US wakes up and realizes this situation is real, and train to defend themselves.

  4. You did the right thing. I am very proud of you for this “My knowledge and my nature is shaped by the collective experience of Jews who suffered during the Holocaust. Through the hardships, my people grew stronger and learned to fight. I am not the same as the Jews of the 1930s. I represent a different generation and a different way of thinking. We are no longer victims.”

  5. Thank you for this post. While I walked by a Krav Maga studio for many years, I had (mistakenly) assumed it was simply another martial art. Your thorough explanation of its origins and philosophy of “preserving the potential for a more “dignified” resolution” has convinced me that a trip to a Krav Maga studio with my two sons to learn more needs to happen soon.

  6. You were successful in your response on every front: stopping the threat, protecting your children, teaching your children, showing Jewish pride. Mazel tov and AM YISRAEL CHAI.

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