The Collegiate Times was fortunate enough to sit down with Krav Maga instructor Moshe Katz. Even inside Squires Student Center, he did not leave his luggage unattended for a moment, a move that would earn him a commendation from the Transportation Security Administration, but also an indicator of what life is like in Israel.
COLLEGIATE TIMES: I’ve read your website and you have an interesting story. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got into Krav Maga?
MOSHE KATZ: The initial inspiration that I got for getting into martial arts came from a Rabbi whom I knew when I was younger. He thought it was important for Jews to learn how to defend themselves. It was actually the Karate Kid movie that gave me the final push to give it a try and since then I have been training.
I started with karate, moved onto judo eventually and over the years I began to gravitate toward Krav Maga because it is more street-oriented. When I was younger I did more sports like boxing, kickboxing and judo (which is not really geared toward the street). But Krav Maga has two things I like about it. One, it is practical and two it is Israeli — it represents Israel.
CT: What really separates Krav Maga from other styles of martial arts?
KATZ: Israel is a country which unfortunately is always under attack. It is not only under attack from the outside, but also it is attacked from enemies within.
Everyone in Israel serves in the army, it has a warrior attitude and most of the terrorist attacks that take place on the streets are stopped by ordinary civilians. In other words, when you hear about some suicide bomber who is stopped in the street, usually it isn’t the SWAT team who arrived. Usually it was somebody who took initiative and responded effectively.
So Krav Maga isn’t designed for sports, it is not designed for tournaments. There are no trophies or anything along those lines. It is simply designed for survival. Most martial arts have a tradition. In order to get a black belt you have to uphold that tradition. Krav Maga has no tradition, it changes from year to year. If we have a technique that somebody tries in the streets and it doesn’t work effectively, we’ll change it. So it’s not like a God-given law. Krav Maga evolves according to the needs of the streets. It has one objective and one objective only: your survival. It’s not about art, it’s not about beauty, it’s not about tradition and it’s not about competition.
CT: Have you ever had to use Krav Maga out in the streets?
KATZ: I personally have not been attacked in a very, very long time, but some of my students have and some of these techniques have been used in the streets effectively. But more than just the techniques, it fosters an attitude and the attitude is what makes a difference.
CT: That was definitely something I noticed, especially in the beginning as you explained in Krav Maga you are never “down and out” but “down and dangerous.” Why would you recommend Krav Maga to anyone who might be interested in learning a martial art for self-defense?
KATZ: I would recommend it, I mean, you talk about colleges. Statistically one in four college women will be sexually molested before she graduates, which is a horrible statistic. To think the majority of these attacks are never reported, we can only imagine what these numbers are. I’ve been to campuses and you find out that a fraternity guy was just shot in the head. There is a lot of violence unfortunately.