When Covid-19 has shut down my gym, I promised myself it wouldn’t stop me from teaching my Krav Maga students.
Learning can happen in many different ways, and I am always looking for ways to inspire them to use this time productively.
I know that many of them are stressed and scared. This is a terrifying time for them. Many have lost jobs and others are worried about their education. I hope what I taught them is helping them cope.
From the first day, I tell them that they are Krav Maga practitioners, who are training for real life. In real life, attacks happen suddenly and we don’t always have time to plan for it. Instead, we have to use what we have, improvising on the spot in order to be effective.
In those times of great danger, we have to get creative, using the element of surprise and aggression to make up for the disadvantage.
There’s a great story I just heard about the Israeli pilots during the Israeli War of Independence. Israel was attacked immediately after declaring independence. The newly created army had no time to build weapons to fight back the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq who were invading the country. Western countries had refused to sell weapons to the Israelis.
Israel only had four planes available. Worse, those planes were, as described by the pilots as made from “mismatched parts” and “the worst piece of crap I have ever flown.” But it was all Israel had and they would have to make it work. Otherwise, the entire country would be overrun and the civilians of Israel would be at risk of their lives.
Four pilots, Lou Lenart, Modi Alon, Ezer Weizman and Eddie Cohen were chosen, with only Lenert having any combat experience. They were sent out in their terrible planes to face 6,000 Egyptian troops who were armed with military vehicles and anti-aircraft weapons.
The battle was a complete failure. The guns malfunctioned and Eddie Cohen was killed in battle. Despite losing a fourth of their airforce, minimal damage was inflicted. As Lenert said, “It was like a piece of your heart being broken off.”
However, the courage of the pilots intimidated the Egyptian army so much, that they stopped, only a few miles from Tel Aviv. The remaining pilots return in a night attack, fighting aggressively and courageously. Even when they ran out of bombs, they improvised and threw seltzer bottles to make a loud crash that sounded like a bomb going off.
The Egyptian soldiers were so intimidated that they were sure more planes were going. The army scattered, saving the city of Tel Aviv.
Rather than just wait for the inevitable, Israel decided to act quickly and decisively. The best defense, in this case, was a good offense. It’s that courageous and creative spirit at the birth of Krav Maga, that inspires us to do the same in our daily lives today.
We’re all feeling the stress right now, and Covid-19 is terrifying. However, we can be inspired by those four pilots, who faced impossible odds. They refused to give up.
We can do the same.