“Why go touring Israel?” Why Krav Maga of course!
The decision to go Touring Israel may be a strange concept for many people, especially for those without a link to Krav Maga. Interestingly for Israelis, Krav Maga seemed a strange reason to go to Israel. For us however, the idea of three weeks training in the country where Krav Maga all began was reason enough. Spending three weeks holidaying in the sun didn’t hurt either.
We were completely prepared. We had researched Israel on the internet, googled the places we were going to visit, read the Lonely Planet’s guide back to front and only packed what was absolutely necessary (only six pairs of shoes). We knew how to say ‘Shalom’. We knew not to talk politics. We knew that 45 hours of intense training in eight days awaited us. We knew what to expect. Or at least we thought we did.
Master Eyal Yanilov has a presence. Almost everyone associated with Krav Maga knows that he was Imi Sde-Or’s closest student and friend and that he is responsible for reigniting Krav Maga in the modern world, but no one knew quite what to expect. When he walked into the room on the first day of the tour, the entire group fell silent. When he spoke, people were in awe and hung on his every word. When he joked, people were in hysterics. Not at all what we had imagined!
We were with Eyal for a total of four days. In that time we worked on knife threats and attacks in public places; trained on the beach in Netanya and worked out in the Mediterranean Sea. We trained with Master Eyal and Instructor Pavel at the Wingate Institute in third party protection including gun defence. We were privy to Eyal’s personal tales, his sense of humour and his amazing ability to explain techniques and bring out the best in everyone. “We’ll make a fighter out of you yet, Lisa!”
Throughout the touring and training we had seven instructors that all came with differing areas of expertise. This allowed us to train using a range of techniques; from basic straight punches through to VIP protection and law enforcement scenarios. Each instructor brought with them a passion and determination that resinated among the students. The sites where we trained brought with them a rich history that added to the experience.
The 8 days was spent both touring and training. We were lucky enough to have secured the best tour guide in the country, Avi, whose enthusiasm and passion for Israel was contagious and difficult to ignore. The one year wait for him to take a KMG tour was well worth it.
After a long day of touring Israel, it was customary to end with a rigorous training session. As night fell on the old city of Jerusalem, Albert Kagalski, one of our instructors, taught us the difficulty of defending against knife attacks in the dark. His advice… “Don’t disarm when you cannot see, it’s dangerous”. Training beneath the old city walls in Jerusalem with only the stars and the distant car lights to see by, was an experience we will never forget.
Moran, our third instructor and trainer of special forces around the world, took us through a variety of scenarios in different locations. These included staged terrorist threats and knife attacks on a bus, where movement was limited, to escaping drowning attempts in the water by attackers. We defended kicks alongside the Jordanian river, and practised disarming guns at Hamad Gadar, a hot springs park. Training on top of Ammunition Hill, where the battle for Jerusalem was won, as the sun was setting, was like a scene out of a movie.
Although Israel is a relatively small country, the diversity of the landscape is immense and very beautiful. How lucky we were to be able to train on top of Masada in the middle of the desert in the morning, and a mere few hours later, train on the hot sands on the shore of the Dead Sea. A few kilometres north, and a couple of days later, we were standing on top of a dormant volcano, overlooking Syria. Here we had a chance meeting with Yair Nafshi, one of the most revered commanders in the 1973 battle for the Golan Heights. Irrespective of political beliefs, it was hard not to be moved by this moment.
We were able to experience the peaceful relations and beautiful mix between the Arab and Israeli cultures. This was seen in Akko, a city rebuilt by Ahmed El-Jazzar, and the amazing Bedouin hospitality provided by a close friend of Dudi Gorin, the General Manager of Krav Maga Global. Dudi showed us a side of Israel that we were not expecting and one that we are eternally grateful for.
Our last stop was the vibrant city of Tel Aviv where we were taught by Master Ze’ev Cohen and focused on law enforcement tactics such as the half nelson and VIP protection against physical attacks and gun threats. It was an intense end to some incredible training, and called for a well deserved rest on the beautiful beaches of Tel Aviv.
But before we could escape to the warm waters of the Mediterranean, the end of the Tour and Train saw Dudi provide us with our long awaited Krav Maga passports and a certificate for 50 hours of training over ten days. We will certainly be making use of it in Israel again.
The tour and train was an experience that we will never forget, and one that we hope to repeat…perhaps at the G camp next year!
So, why go to Israel? Well, why wouldn’t you?
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Samantha Hahn and Lisa Coady