While browsing news this morning, I ran across this screed. It’s in response to a woman — with an admitted anxiety disorder requiring treatment — wondering if she should ask about the presence of guns before sending her child away to a play date.
Dear Abby Says Asking About Guns In Homes Is ‘Off-Putting’
It is astonishing that in this day and age, when guns are the third leading cause of death for American children and we hear stories seemingly every other day about children getting access to adult’s guns, that anyone — let alone someone whose job is to give advice — would recommend that a parent be more concerned about not making another parent uncomfortable than about making sure their child is safe.
TL;DR is that Bland is shocked that possibly offending an acquaintance might take precedence over child safety “when guns are the third leading cause of death for American children.” (Which happens to be one of the latest lies being pushed by gun ban bunnies. They have to include gangbangers up to 24 years of age to get there.) But this is where I need some input from parents, since I’ve never been one.
Do you parents normally send your kids — I mean those too young to understand that guns aren’t toys — off to the homes of people you don’t know well enough to have a feel for how safe they are?
Do parents typically not teach their children not to screw around with other people’s property — guns, in this case — without permission?
Do parents encourage their children to hang out with other children who lack respect for people’s property?
As a non-parent, my experience is limited to my own childhood, observing friends and relatives with their children. Bog knows, my parents told me to stay away from certain kids and homes. None of my nieces, nephew, grand-nieces, grand nephew have even tried to get my — secured — firearms.
Or, going to some friends for example: I used to spend a fair bit of time with a couple with two young children, the oldest a boy about three years old at the time. Any time they had guns out for cleaning, they’d let the boy watch. And handle guns and parts under supervision. And all the while telling him about the Four Rules; conversationally rather than as a lecture, in simple language a 3y/o could grasp.
And to make sure he understood that guns can destroy things and people, we took him to the range. We fitted him with hearing and eye protection (which he wanted anyway, since the grown-ups were putting on their own). I set up a milk jug full of water on the target line, and shot it with .45 ACP (I believe I was usually running 185 gr. Federal Hydra-Shoks back then), as our young student watched.
He was impressed. I didn’t know eyes could get that wide.
To the best of my knowledge, he never ever “played” with a gun. Because he knew what they could do.
In another case, I attended a camping event which included a lot of shooting: a pistol competition, pistol and rifle classes, and near-continuous informal target practice. The camping area was on elevated ground, and there was a trail leading down to the valley where the range was set up with the firing line facing the other side of the valley.
Much of the time there was a five year-old boy parked at the trail head. Small .22 rifle slung on his shoulder (Chipmunk, I think, but can’t swear to), and a belt with pouches for his muffs, safety glasses, targets, and ammunition. Any time an adult approached the trail head, the youngster would speak up very politely. “Excuse me, sir. Are you going to the range?”
“Could I go with you? I want to shoot, but my parents say I can only go to the range with an adult.”
So I took him to the range, since I also happened to know his father and knew the drill. That boy was one of the safest shooters I’ve seen; strict adherence to the Rules (not positive, but I think he might have been muttering the Four Rules to himself as we walked to the firing line). Not a bad shot either,
Because his entirely reasonable and responsible parents had taught him firearms safety and shooting. Is the circle of friends, family, and acquaintances I hang out with really that much more safety-aware than most parents?
A more general example: I live in a state where an estimated one in three people own guns (I think that’s pretty low, but we’re not the sort to tell strangers on the phone a lot of details). In my small town rural area, the anecdotal rate is more like 90%; most of the exceptions are military and Yankee transplantees who haven’t bought anything yet (although some have asked me for help on deciding what to buy). It seems to me that if fears of kids grabbing guns were the huge problem Ms. Bland and Mrs. Anxiety-meds believe, this county would have depopulated itself decades ago. It hasn’t, it’s growing, and I can’t recall the last accidental shooting by a minor, nor does a web search turn up anything.
So, real parents; who better represents reality? My responsible friends, or fearful folks being treated for anxiety?
Yes, this is going to be another “Dang Sheila gets to meet cool people and hear interesting speakers!” kind of column. Because I do.
I recently attended a Friends of the IDF event, with the IDF being Israeli Defense Forces if you hadn’t guessed that.
The evening started out with a lovely welcome from the organizer and the master of ceremonies. I believe I heard this was the first event like this that the organizer had set up, and she did an amazing job, so I’m hoping it won’t be the last. We then sang The Star Spangled Banner and HaTikvah, the national anthems for both America and Israel, of course!
Then it was movie time. As we just commemorated the 50 years of the reunification of Jerusalem they had a wonderful video to show us, and the three soldiers in the iconic photo have been touring the U.S. and talking to audiences.
Sadly, we did not get to hear their talk, but we did get to hear two other real life heroes that night.
We next saw a video on Friends of the IDF and it talked about all the different programs they offer. They are certainly a lot more involved than I would have realized. The little movie did a segment on each program. Wikipedia has info on the programs as well as the FIDF website. I admit to only knowing about a couple of the programs, the Lone Soldier of course, and the wounded veterans. They do a lot more than that, and impact lives of the soldiers and their families in a multitude of ways. For each segment they showed there would be an IDF soldier to tell how that program had affected their life. It certainly did a good job of putting a face and a human to the programs.
We then heard our first hero of the night, First Sergeant Keren Shlomi. Keren said she did not have a typical childhood, and I would imagine she’s right. She was born in Israel as I recall, but her family fractured and she ended up living in Canada with her her Mom. She said that she missed Israel, and felt like there was a hole in her heart. She got to go back to Israel on a trip and then she knew what was making the hole in her heart and what would fill it. Keren went back as often as she could, and when she was of age she decided to move back and serve in the IDF. Up on the projection screen flashed a picture of Keren wearing sunglasses and holding an Israeli flag. Her smile said it all, in Hebrew and in English, she was home and whole. She served in the first co-ed combat unit which was on the Egyptian -Israeli border at the time. She became a sharpshooter and eventually moved into Intelligence. Over time she became completely disconnected from her family, but she says she never felt alone. She had her IDF family, and the Friends of the IDF also were supportive. After her army career she worked three jobs, baby sitter, and courthouse security were among them. To be honest, if it were me? I could actually only do one of those, and it wouldn’t be babysitting. I’ve done it, I know. Keren wanted to go to college, she had a dream and if she had to work three jobs, she was willing to do it. She figured within a few years she’d have saved up enough money to go to college. But then someone told her about the FIDF impact scholarship and she applied. She won one of the scholarships. She gives 130 hours of community service during every year of schooling so not only does the scholarship impact her life, she impacts the lives of others, 130 hours a year worth! It seems like a great program and Keren certainly is a good ambassador for it.
Our next speaker was First Sergeant Izzy Ezagui, and his dog. Nope, not kidding. Though Izzy did all the talking. Why you ask did First Sergeant Izzy need a dog on the platform with him? Well, I’m so glad you asked, let me tell you!
American born Izzy began his talk in moderately thickly accented English. As I sat there listening I kind of marveled to myself that I had never noticed how much an Israeli accent sounds like a French accent, and how had I never noticed it before when I talked to people? Sorry Izzy. After a few lines he asked us how he did with his fake Israeli accent, that he had practiced it for a long time for us. He got applause for that. Then he told us about his friend on the stage with him, his service dog. He says people ask him why he has a service dog. He says he tells them that women are heavy, the dog helps him pick them up. I can believe it, the dog was adorable, and better behaved than many children. So why does First Sergeant Izzy need a service dog?
Izzy said he had originally planned to make Aliyah to Israel as a Lone Soldier, but his family messed that up for him by making Aliyah as well. So once in Israel, his family lived in Jerusalem and Izzy began his IDF service.
One Shabbat Izzy’s Orthodox Commander called, so Izzy knew it wasn’t going to be good. They were being called up, and Operation Cast Lead began in response to about 80 rockets a day being fired into cities in Israel, with kindergartens and civilian areas being targeted. This time as far south as Beer Sheva, this was before the Iron Dome was in place. As far as I’m concerned, that could have prompted a massive bomb in the middle of Gaza, but then I adore Beer Sheva, and do not claim to be impartial. In two weeks Hamass had fired 500 rockets into Israel. Just part of our tax dollars at work. So the IDF ground forces entered Gaza during stage II of the operation. During that excursion a Captain in his brigade was killed. He had sustained a neck wound, but held it shut and continued to give orders to his men in an effort to save their lives, and he succeed in that, losing is own life in the process. Izzy’s company was going to be sent in to retrieve the Captain’s body. Izzy said he now face one of the most terrifying times to date of his IDF service. He didn’t know what to do. It seems Izzy had told his Mother that he was being sent to the Lebanon border (which was quiet at the time). When he talked to her he told her they had him in the kitchen doing dishes since they were rookies. So, now does he tell her where he really is before they go in? What if something happens and she had no warning? Should he tell her? Should he not? As he was sitting there pondering his dilemma, a mortar shell landed and ripped his arm off. The medics responded quickly and gave him some morphine for his pain. Then they loaded him up in the ambulance. The ambulance crew looked down sympathetically and asked if he had been given morphine for his pain. He earnestly replied no, he hadn’t. They have him some. They took him to the helicopter that was going to fly him to Saroka in Beer Sheva. He was loaded up into the helicopter for his flight to Beer Sheva, the air ambulance crew being a sympathetic lot gently inquired if he’d been given any morphine. No, no he hadn’t. They gave him some. He said he landed in Beer Sheva half loopy. Honestly, I’m surprised he even had a fourth to loop. But he had enough presence of mind to realize he stood a very real chance of dying. Because when they landed he realized there was a news crew there. A news crew with a camera, and his mother thought he was on the Lebanon border doing the dishes. A slow painful death awaited him, no doubt. Izzy then did what any combat wise veteran of the IDF would do who hoped to survive. Despite having massive quantities of morphine in his system, he more or less thought on his feet and threw a blanket over his head so when they took him into Saroka it would buy him enough time to talk to his mom before she saw him being wheeled into a hospital in Beer Sheva, no where near Lebanon.
Izzy says recovery was slow, and not at all simple. Recovery involved learning to ties shoes and open bottles, and dealing with phantom pain.
But as Comrade X commented on another column I did recently, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Izzy is a Tibetan Mastiff.
Izzy was determined to remain in the IDF. So his recovery also involved learning to jump 7 foot walls, load an unjam a rifle, all with one arm, Izzy remains a sharpshooter still. His last training exercise involved hiking from one live fire exercise to the next. For 30 hours. The training is a week and a half long. One year when they trained on Hanukkah, on the fourth night Izzy borrowed rifles. He removed their slings and stuck them in the ground, upright. He then placed a candle in the barrel and lit them creating a makeshift Hanukkah menorah. Then he had a friend take his picture with it,which went viral. He said he couldn’t really lie his way out of it, there aren’t any other one armed soldiers in the IDF. He said the higher ups were not happy, not happy at all, but he was not worried about being arrested. He said in fact, he doesn’t ever worry about being arrested. Because it’s impossible for anyone to handcuff him, so he is pretty much golden.
His final assignment was leading a squad of 13 men. Amazing, just amazing. It’s like Comrade X says, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight…
Izzy is now a motivational speaker and has a book coming out next March. If he is as riveting to read as he is to listen to, this is going to be a wonderful book!
We all face battles in our lives, some health related, some personal, some financial, some spiritual, but face them we will. It’s harder when we face more than one kind at once, but perhaps when you think about people like Gal Hirsch and Izzy you can look and up ask for what you need be it courage, strength, stamina, or whatever, and with G-d’s help, continue to fight another day.
I’m sure this is what Izzy would tell us, Live Like A Warrior
Memorial Day has passed. I didn’t exactly get to spend it the way I planned, but it’s ok. I think it’s still timely to talk about Memorial Day considering D-Day is coming up.
I’ve had a lot of thoughts about Memorial Day this year. I always do. I saw a tweet by Kay Wilson who queried “How can any American ever say Happy Memorial Day?” If you are unfamiliar with Kay, she is amazing. She is the victim of a horrific machete attack. Kay is British born, and living in Israel.
From doing a little reading, it seems the average age of soldiers from the Revolutionary War, up till now is early 20s. This is including older experienced officers which raises the age average. Although drummer boys could be as young as 12. I believe I read the average life expectancy of a solider in WWI in the trenches was six weeks. Six. Weeks.
How many died? I got an interesting email from Shmuel Sackett of Zehut, an Israeli political party I belong to. Yeah, pretty cool beans. To be honest though, I am not the only one who got the email, it was one Shmuel sent out to the group. It’s also right in line with Kay’s sentiments and is titled “What Did You Buy On Memorial Day?”
Let me ask you a question. Isn’t Memorial Day supposed to be somber? A day of remembrance, mourning and reflection? A day to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of brave men and women who lost their lives fighting for the USA? Do you have any idea how many heroes we are talking about? I did some research and found that from the American Revolutionary War until today – are you ready for this? – a total of 666,441 American soldiers have lost their lives in battle. If it’s hard for you to think about war from 1776, let me break down that number in more modern times. In WWII – 291,557 soldiers were killed and in Vietnam the number was 47,424. After 9/11, American forces went to war in Afghanistan and lost 1,954 soldiers while a whopping 3,836 have been killed in Iraq.
He is expressing his shock and sorrow outrage, let’s be honest, that in America, Memorial Day has become a day of picnics, shopping and holiday.
I’m not saying that there aren’t Americans that don’t feel the same. There are. Originally Memorial Day was called Decoration Day and it’s origins predate the Civil War. I can still remember when it changed from being observed on May 30th. That was back in 1971. My family observed it as a Memorial Day to family members that were gone and we would go decorate graves. Not that I didn’t have family that served in the military, I did. My Dad was in the Navy, one Uncle was in the Navy and wanted to be a fighter pilot. At 6’4” he was deemed too tall and instead was in communications. It was interesting when I talked to him about it a few years ago, he still couldn’t tell me much of what he did. I do know he was aboard the USS Missouri the day Japan surrendered. I have another Uncle that was in the Battle of Midway and survived. He had been gone for many years before I ever found that out. I was in first grade when he died at 33 of a heart attack and I was devastated. I have another Uncle that also served in the Navy, and at one time I considered enlisting in the Navy. My nephew is trying his very best to be accepted into a different branch of the military. Sigh, there’s always one. But, I couldn’t be prouder of “The Brat” and I love him dearly.
This is one paragraph, about one family, and I’m so blessed, all mine survived. Look at the stats quoted by Shmuel above. All those listed had families, they had lives and loves. They had hopes, dreams and aspirations.
In Israel, Yom Hazikaronיוֹם הַזִּכָּרוֹן is observed very differently.
By law, all places of entertainment are closed on the eve of Yom Hazikaron, and broadcasting and educational bodies note the solemnity of the day.
Memorial candles are lit in homes, army camps, schools, synagogues, and public places, and the flags are lowered to half staff. Throughout the day serving and retired military personnel serve as honor guards at war memorials throughout the country, and the families of the fallen participate in memorial ceremonies at military cemeteries.
National memorial services are held in the presence of Israel’s top leadership and military personnel. The day opens with a siren the preceding evening at 20:00 (8:00 pm), given that in the Hebrew calendar system, a day begins at sunset. The siren is heard all over the country and lasts for one minute, during which Israelis stop everything, including driving on highways, and stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect.
When I saw the post from Kay, I answered her and told her it is because so many in America do not even realize what Memorial Day is. Some of it is due to the massive liberal influences in the government, and some of it is due to the school system. I heard a very interesting lecture recently and facts and figures were given showing the decimation of the US military in the last 8 years, by our own government. In addition to the military being used as a “social experiment”. And don’t think that hasn’t taken a toll.
I was still young when the soldiers came back from Viet Nam, and I remember stories of them being spit on and berated. Thank you Walter Cronkite, Jane Fonda and John Kerry, and scores of liberal school teachers, and countless others. Bill Clintoon set a shining example by fleeing to Canada. I can remember being at an amusement park one time in Texas, not on Memorial Day. The two men in line ahead of me were talking about having come back. In line it was hard not to over-hear. I looked at them and said “Thank you, thank you for serving”. They were young, and looked shocked. Then they looked grateful. They didn’t determine the policies of going to war, they didn’t get a vote on being sent. They got drafted, and they suited up and showed up and tried to do the right thing.
I was recently in a conversation with a man and his wife. The man had retired out of the Marine Corp after 38 years. They were watching a John Wayne movie on TV, he was in a submarine. She had gone with him on every posting he had ever been sent. She commented “All wars are stupid”. I was quite for a moment, it happens rarely, then replied “Yes, perhaps, but some of them need to be fought, and some of them are worth fighting”. I’m working on Hebrew as a second language, not German, I get to make a choice. Some wars need to be fought.
I’m pretty old now, I’ve got to realize some of my hopes and dreams, there are some still in the bag to be worked towards. But I’m alive, and I have that chance. These men and women that showed up and answered the call? Their hopes and dreams died with them on fields, beaches, in trenches and hedgerows. I would also include law enforcement officers who answer a calling to try to protect as those that fall in service to our country now. It’s not the same, they get to go home (usually) at the end of their shift, but that “sheepdog” mentality resides in them as well. They are serving in a different arena.
I admit it, I would like to see America observe Memorial Day in a way more similar to Israel’s observance. I would like to have a nationwide siren sounded at the same time all across the US and people stop what they are doing in honor of those that gave all. I would like to see stores close and the day treated as a day to respectfully honor fallen heroes. While I can’t make that happen, I can make sure I do my best to honor the men and women who suited up and showed up.
This video is from Black Rifle Coffee company. They are veteran owned and operated. They also star in their own videos. Some of which are pretty darn funny, some outrageous, some kinda gross. But all quite original. I just got my first order, and it’s darn good coffee! No, they are not paying me to write this, they don’t even know who I am, but this video is what made me “pull the trigger” on buying the coffee. I highly recommend “Coffee or Die”.
Just some things to keep in mind with the approach of D-Day.
You know, in some ways, I’m a pretty blessed girl. Parts of my life are pretty cool. I get to meet some amazing people, I really do. And some of them I get to interview, and some of them I just am fortunate enough to be able to sit in on a lecture. This column is about one of those times. I got to sit in on a lecture with a fascinating gentleman. You’re looking for more information than “fascinating”? Ok, how about details, he’s Israeli, he’s been in a few battles. More? He can speak Hebrew, read and write it. More? Ok, I admit that last bit was humor. He was part of the Shaldagשלדגor Kingfisher unit. In fact, at one time he commanded it. Shaldag is like Sayeret Matkal, think Yonatan Netanyahu. It’s a special forces unit of the IAF. A Kingfisher is a bird that flies up high, swoops down suddenly and snatches it’s prey and ascends back into the skies before you know what happened. Now you understand Shaldag. More? He’s a retired Brigadier General. Yeah, I get to meet very way cool people. He’s also a happily married father of three girls, two of whom are officers in the IDF now. More? His name is Gal Hirsch. He also has a B.A in Mid-Eastern Studies from Bar-Ilan University. I’m working on my B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies as well, sadly not in Israel. Gal also is the founder and chairman of Defensive Shield Holdings, which consults on security and defense, and is chairman of the Israeli Leadership Institute. Quite the pedigree isn’t it? And he had quite the lecture, and message for us.
Gal’s family were some of the first to settle in Arad when it was a new town in the Negev. It’s near my beloved Beer Sheva. On his 13th birthday with the other boys he climbed Masada before dawn for his Bar Mitzvah, they put on Tefillin for the first time, prayed and vowed שנית מצדה לא תיפול
Shaneet Masada lo tipol, Masada shall not fall again. This is the same vowed the armored division used to make when they were sworn in on Masada, after climbing up it. My thought? Yes, I’d like to have the chance to do that, climb it, but the view from the cable car was amazing. I’m just saying. After that portion, the boys all hike down and go their homes and there is a lovely large meal, family and presents. It’s a big family event. Normally. Gal’s wasn’t, when he got back everything was chaos. His uncle, Amnon Hager had been killed. Fifty-four paratroopers and the pilot had been killed when their helicopter went down. The next day Gal changed from planning to enter a science program to picking up the baton that had fallen from his Uncle’s hand. He went to the recruiting station in Beer Sheva.
Gal has been fighting since he was 18, a lot of it around the borders of Israel, and all of it under fire. He said you can plan whatever you want, but someone else is planning for you. Serving in the IDF is not a career, it’s a mission. Eventually Gal chose to go to officer training. This requires an additional commitment to serve in the IDF. There on the walls of the school in different places was the phrase “אחריי” Achriee, or “Follow me and do likewise” which is what Gideon told his troops. This is also why you see a fairly high casualty rate among Israeli officers, they LEAD into battle. In addition to seeing the sign “Achriee” he also saw a beautiful woman named Donna, who later became his wife, and the mother of his 3 beautiful daughters. Donna was in the IDF as well. So, folks, if you need, I’ll see if I can get you some IDF recruitment forms. Sounds like it worked better than match.com.
In the mid 80s Hizbollah was a political party, now Hizbollah is the Iranian army after going through a few morphs. Gal fought in the first intifada which was the pieceful falestinians* having their armed riots for “peace”. They knew that Israel would not use machine guns on civilians.
While he couldn’t talk about many of the missions he went on, he did tell us about one. There was an enemy installation someplace. The enemy would come out attack Israel and retreat back to their compound. After this had gone on for a bit, Gal decided they needed to get into the compound. He said the game changes when you wake up in the morning and the floor of your living room is covered with IEDs and you have no clue how they got there in the night. I bet that’s right, actually, I know that’s right, more on that later. But there were some pretty good mottoes contained in the story. This mission had many things go wrong, from a late start because they were waiting for approval to technical problems. At one point an ambush was waiting, a team member was injured and they had to figure out an alternative way to cross a road swarming with the enemy and invent a way to cover their tracks. Then they got to climb the cliff. Through all this Gal has to continually reassess the situation. Abort or continue? Finally he is getting messages from headquarters, it was a brilliant plan, but don’t you think you should abort now? It’s not the same situation. It’s morning now. Gal persisted and was emphatic, he would continue. Then headquarters made it an order, abort. And just then, as luck would have it, there was another technical problem and none of their headsets worked! None of them heard the order to abort the mission. WOW, who would have imagined such a thing? Gal did have to come up with some alternative ways to get the team extracted, but he had already figured that out. So once the mission was completed he was able to get the communication equipment to work and called in orders for what he needed to get the team extracted safely. The mission was a success. When they got back to base the General Chief of Staff wished to have a word with Gal. Apparently the General had several, at a great volume. Gal thought his time in the IDF was about to end, so he had some words in response, also at a increased volume. And about then the people who had been monitoring the compound began to see some of the teams handiwork playing out. They came and got the General who left to watch the fireworks, grab a cup of Cofix and some popcorn. Ok, I made up the last two. But Cofix coffee is always a good idea in my book. The debriefing was two weeks later and he was told many times, you were wrong, but this turned out well.
Many times in this story Gal talked about “values determine results”, meaning if it is your values to persevere and work hard, your results will be good, it’s about your work ethic. And “the mission must be accomplished”. But what happens when values collide? “The mission must be accomplished” collides with “discipline”. The military discipline that an army must have to function as a unit runs headlong into the mission must be accomplished and values determine results? That’s a tough one isn’t it? The unit ended up getting a citation for their work, and they didn’t can Gal.
Instead, they sent him to Judea and Samaria to prepare for war in the aftermath of the Oslo accords. Gal talked about how many times and how many different ways Israel has tried to make peace. And how many times the Arabs have promised to give up terrorism and attacking civilians in return for _______. And some how, no matter how much or how often they give, peace never comes. Attacks on civilians and the military continues.
In 1998 it turns out Gal was quite good at trying to get things in order in Judea and Samaria. So good the Arabs absolutely hated him and he was a high priority target for them. The finally got him in an ambush as he drove under a bridge. They rolled a boulder on his car. He sustained multi-system trauma. Broken teeth, arm almost ripped off, face partly crushed, lungs filling with blood, teeth knocked out, pelvic damage and part of his nerves were torn away from his spine, he was pretty close to if not, paralyzed. The arabs were exceedingly proud of themselves for having gotten Gal. It was on the arabic news stations and in the papers. But Gal lived. The doctors asked him what his goals were for his therapy and rehab. He told them he wanted to be able to “shoot, hug, and write” meaning write orders. He wanted to go back into command. He wanted to be in charge of the Binyamin brigade which is in the area of Judea and Samaria. He wanted the arabs to know, they failed. He was sent to Paris for a while for some procedures. After he had been back from Paris for a while, he begin to have movement in a finger. The index finger of his right hand. He called his commander and said “I’m healthy now. I want to be the brigade commander” This, I’m sure, was met with a rather stunned reaction. He was still in the hospital in rehab. But, you see, it was his trigger finger that had moved. To Gal? He was ready for duty. So at 74% disabled he became the brigade commander of the Binyamin brigade. He is still 59% disabled today. He said “When you have a mission, you can work through the pain”. Another good creed to remember.
So now you have some background on Gal. Now I’ll tell you some of the things I learned that I think are worth sharing.
Gal is the man behind Operation Defensive Shield, March 29 – April 21, 2002. It was in response to the many, many terrorist attacks coming from the arabs in Judea and Samaria. In particular the Pesach massacre on March 27th in which 30 people were killed. A pieceful falestinian detonated himself in a hotel in Netanya during a 250 person Seder. Twenty-two were killed outright, eight died later and one hundred and fifty were injured. The arabic world was a tizzy in joy. But for Ariel Sharon it was the last straw. This was a very large scale operation. Despite the fact the Air force could have settled hash in a few minutes, the IDF chose to send in infantry to spare civilians who were told to flee.
Now, there are some things Israel does very poorly. One is “apartheid”. They are pathetic at apartheid. They have muslims in the Knesset, they have muslims in the military, in positions of command no less, they have muslims in the police force, they have muslims working in the emergency medical services. Israeli muslims can vote, shop, work, whatever. They do not have a firm grasp on how to do apartheid. Another word they can not seem to grasp the meaning of is “siege”. They really do quite poorly with siege. They need to refer back to Masada and the Roman 10th legion to understand how to do “siege”. Because when the tanks surrounded Mukata’a, Arafat’s palace and command post in Ramallah to keep him from leading an insurgency they supplied everything he needed, including electricity. I’m sure if you’ve seen the pictures of Arafat and his people huddled around a candle, that will be a shock, but Israel actually supplied them with necessities. They don’t get “siege”.
So let’s talk a bit about the arabs. In Bethlehem, somewhere between 100-180 pieceful* falestinians holed up in the Church of the Nativity. Much like how they now use the Al-Aqsa mollusk (yeah, I know) to hide weapons and attack the police out of their holy site. You know, I’ve yet to see any of the other worlds religions use their holy sites as a military compound and then howl to cnn when the military attacks it, and the people in it. But the arabs do it on a regular basis. Not only their own holy sites, but those of other religions. They also took more than 40 priests, nuns, and church personnel as well as around 200 other Palestinians hostage.
There were also raids in other falestinian villages as the IDF gained control of Judea and Samaria. This resulted in a large drop in terrorist activities.
Israeli Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center, were an initial drop of 46 percent in the number of suicide bombings – from 22 in February and March to 12 in April and May – and a 70 percent drop in executed attacks between the first half of 2002 and the second half (43 January–June, 13 July–December).
While 2003 had a total of 25 executed suicide bombings in comparison to 56 in 2002, the main difference was the number of attacks which did not come to realization (184) either due to Israeli interception or problems in the execution. 2003 also saw a 35 percent drop in the number of fatalities from 220 deaths in 2002 to 142 deaths resulting from suicide bombings.
Predictably, the UN howled. And the FA (Falestinian Authority) had cnn on speed dial. They would send kids out in front of tanks and cnn, being sloppy journalists, and I’m using that term very loosely here, would snap photos of the “compelling” conflict. Did they do any investigation? Not so much.
Remember me saying we would come back to IEDs in the living room? Well, that’s how terrorism works. You’re going about your normal little life when a bomb goes off, or someone runs you down with a car and jumps out with a knife. How long before people are afraid to go out? So, wake up and find IEDs in the living room? Changes your notions about your plans. The next point, is while the UN howled about the poor falestinian civilians, the poor civilians don’t concern the pieceful falestinian terrorists. They use them as shields, or tell them they can’t leave a building knowing Israel will not attack it if there are civilians there. This point seems to escape the UN, well, and john kerry. The IDF targets terrorists. The terrorists target civilians. Big difference wouldn’t you say?
Which brings me to another point Gal made. Not only does Israel not do “apartheid” or “siege” well, they really don’t do well at public relations. The first two were my opinions, but Gal admitted, Israel is not good at PR. The FA on the other hand, has a willing lapdog media. And somehow, somewhere roles have switched. In the beginning everyone realized that tiny Israel was fighting to regain her home. She was attacked by the arab nations from the beginning. Now, it’s still tiny Israel fighting many arab nations to survive, but because they don’t lay down and die as many expect, they are now portrayed as a thuggish Goliath. Gal said that was something that they could use our help with. When we see misstatements in the media, address them. Send a letter to the editor, address it on Facebook, Twitter, whatever, but do not let it go unchallenged. Judea and Samaria are not occupied “territories” they are the land of Judea and Samaria in the land of Israel, and there are Jews living in Jewish villages there, just like there are Jews living in villages all over Israel. And when it comes to Gaza, it is not “occupied” by Israel, there are no Jews in Gaza. In fact, Gal calls it “Hamas-a-stan”. It’s not controlled by anything other than Hamas, or as I call it, Hamass. This little tidbit seems to escape many mainstream journalists.
At the same time as Operation Defensive Shield, Gal began to push for the wall, or defensive barrier. This of course has been met with howls by the “human rights” groups and the UN. Isn’t it interesting that many Israelis died from terrorist attacks coming from people within Judea and Samaria and the UN and human rights people emitted their collective yawn. They didn’t get upset about suicide bombings and knife, rock, boulder, Molotov cocktail against Israelis, nearly one thousand of them. A fence has been built around Gaza, and not a single suicide bomber has made it from Gaza into Israel. The rockets are another story. But the stats on the wall of Judea and Samaria are impressive.
Here’s why there is an actual wall in places where falestinian snipers used to attack.
During the 34 months from the beginning of the violence in September 2000 until the construction of the first continuous segment of the security fence at the end of July 2003, Samaria-based terrorists carried out 73 attacks in which 293 Israelis were killed and 1950 wounded. In the 11 months between the erection of the first segment at the beginning of August 2003 and the end of June 2004, only three attacks were successful, and all three occurred in the first half of 2003.
Since construction of the fence began, the number of attacks has declined by more than 90%. The number of Israelis murdered and wounded has decreased by more than 70% and 85%, respectively, after erection of the fence.
The value of the fence in saving lives is evident from the data: In 2002, the year before construction started, 457 Israelis were murdered; in 2009, 8 Israelis were killed.
The wall and fence have worked very well in Israel.
He also talked a little about the “Arab Spring”, six and a half years ago. He said it was such a nice sounding name, spring. But what it has been is horrible. The jihadists have always been in the middle east, but the dictators that had been in control had been able to contain them. After the arab spring, the bottle was shattered and all the evil little genies were set loose to visit havoc upon the middle east. The fundamentalist jihadis are running amuck and the middle east is not functioning the same. Sounds to me like some former politician was dangerously (to all of us) naïve and didn’t have a firm grasp on the situation, or how things work.
Some of this last bit was in response to questions asked by the audience at the end of the lecture. But there was one more interesting question that was put to Gal as he talked about the impact of the evil fundamentalist jihadis that have been set loose to run amuck in polite society. A lady (not me) ask Gal, “So what does the mean for us?” Now, remember Gal’s occupation now. Security and defense consultant. He said “You have to prepare”. I don’t think she understood what he meant. I think Gal thought she didn’t understand either. He elaborated. “You have to be ready. You have a Second Amendment in this country. That is something we don’t have. You need to arm yourselves and know how to use your gun to be able to defend yourselves and your family”. My jaw almost hit the floor. I can only sincerely hope that those in the audience believed him and took him seriously. When you consider what this man has seen, where he lives and what he has done with his life, and he tells you that you need to be prepared and to exercise your Second Amendment rights, I think it is well worth heeding.
After the lecture he was signing books, and of course I wanted one. I got my book and got in line. We chatted for a few moments before he signed my book. I gave him my card, and asked him if he knew there was a Jewish Second Amendment rights organization in America. He did not. I told him we are supportive of Israel, and that we have covered issues in Israel and the parallels to things happening in America. Mostly favorably. I think Elor Azariya might have slipped out. But he seemed impressed and how glad am I that I was wearing my Caribbean blue TZP sweater? He asked if he could keep the card, it has our web site on it, and I got my copy of the book signed, בעברית, in Hebrew. Yeah, I’m happy. I’ve only got to read a couple pages in the book, but it’s very readable and interesting. The original copy was done in Hebrew of course, and was called War Story, Love Story. We of course, will understand that. Because we don’t fight because we love to fight, we fight because of love. Love for our country and our families. It fits.
*Pieceful. No, I do not mean peaceful. The falestinians love stabbing and cutting up people. Pieceful is the correct, if made-up word.
*Falestinian, Falestinian Authority. There is no “P” in arabic. Isn’t it interesting that their “ancestral homeland” is a word they can’t pronounce. Probably because it wasn’t called Palestine until Hadrian named it that after the disappeared Philistines as a poke at the Jews and to remove their connection from the land.
As Pesach is coming up, and in honor of Gal, here’s your little movie.
When we left off in Part 2, we were talking about what holds people back from having a “Warrior Mindset”, and Joe was telling me about fears, and people not seeing their own possibilities. We continue from there.
Joe: Most people don’t want to get hurt.
S: Where is the switch between the head and the heart that prevents knowledge from the head from getting to the heart?
Joe: The challenge is in getting them to get their mind out of the dojo and in a dark house at 0200 where there are no rules. That is normalcy, that is how real life works. They have to let their minds go into those dark places and most people don’t want to do that.
I switched gears for a second and asked Joe how he came to work with Scott “Buzzkill the safety squirrel” Van Kirk who taught me about my “Systema happy place” which is where a person would need to be in that dark house at 0200.
Joe: Scott had heard about me through the grapevine. He showed up for a basic seminar about 6-7 years ago and we became good friends and now work on these projects together.
S: So, the warrior mindset, born with it or can you develop it?
Joe: It’s very individual. It depends on where a person comes from. It’s not just about picking up arms. It’s a whole mindset. It’s being able to fight for and defend things of value when it comes down to it. This can also be manifested by working extra to pay the utility bill, to buy good shoes or even to put food on the table. It’s not just physical. It’s about fighting the good fight, it’s bigger than any fight with your two fists. You pull into that, the warrior fights to protect everything they hold dear. It’s about being willing and able to do whatever is necessary to take care and protect those people and things of value.
S: So how prevalent is that mindset now?
Joe: It’s very diminished. People expect someone else to pick up the blade. You have parents that call 9-1-1 and say “My kid doesn’t want to go to school”. Physically, mentally, morally and spiritually no one wants to fight their own battles.
I admitted I was shocked about the parents part. If I had refused to go to school my parents wouldn’t have called the Police, they might have wound up calling an ambulance, but not the Police. Well, ok, they weren’t that strict, but I might have had trouble sitting for a spell.
S. In the book it talks about “Ten wounded is better than one dead”. That sounds very much in line with the Israeli code of “Purity of Arms”.
Except Joe was talking about our side, and I took it as the opposition side.
Joe: Well, if I’m wounded, I can still recover. I can still go on and have a life. For the opposition, you wound as much as you can without taking a life. But just because you are wounded doesn’t mean you are out of the fight.
“An aggressor can only be overcome by one who is strong spiritually.”
I said that the spiritual component of Systema resonated strongly with me, it’s part of why Systema feels like it fits. What percentage of Systema would you say is made up of the spiritual component?
Joe: It comes down to this one thing. We don’t fear death because we are spiritually sound. When you’re good spiritually, you know whatever comes after is going to be good. You have to be one with your maker. You can be dangerous, but still be good, not evil.
S: So let’s talk about acting vs. reacting. In the book it talks about different situations, from a fight to losing a job, these came from different sections in the book:
“Acting is what makes you happy. Reacting is what makes you miserable.”
“Acting is independent of the context; reacting is totally dependent on the context.”
Acting vs. reacting. This applies to many things in life, But to me, it seems if you add in the spiritual component that they sometimes merge. The job example, let’s say you are due for a promotion or raise. In your mind you’ve thought it through. You like the job, but unless you advance you’ve hit the ceiling. So you decide based on the next review, if you are not promoted or given a raise, or whatever, you will leave to gain a better opportunity. If you are promoted, you have the opportunity where you are. Or it could be some decision you are unsure of, so you wait and be quiet until you feel G-d guides your step. Rabbi Lazer Brody in The Garden of Emuna says if you’ve prayed, and nothing in your circumstances has changed, it is time to be quiet and listen, guidance will come. Is that still reacting or is it choosing your path and acting?
The chapters on fear, pain control, and trusting our intuition, to me, make this book a good guide book for life, not only in Systema, but in all parts of our life. Was it written with that intent?
And yes, he stayed on the phone for the three minutes it took me to ask this one question.
Joe: It’s about the space between action and reaction, the longer you take for the action to start, if it is a violent encounter it will become more violent. We are either going to act or react. Acting is you digest the action of the other person and then act upon it. Action is always seeing the writing on the wall and being preemptive. The longer we sit there it is going to be a reaction. In situational awareness reaction takes time and thought, whereas action is instinctual. We react too much, acting is opening up to the environment. When you only react to situations you lose some of the options you would have had if you had chosen to act instead.
S: The part about “preemptive striking”, that’s tough for someone my age. I was always told by my Dad as a kid “Don’t you start anything, but if someone starts it, you finish it.” I can’t be the only one in my age group that grew up like that, do you find that mindset common?
Joe: Reacting is more common. Sometimes we must act on preemption, it’s better to apologize later than tell my family I messed up and I’m hurt and can’t work, or they get hurt. We struggle inside with denial and it prevents preemptive action, those are things that hold us back from making a correct decision in time.
S: I saw a video on Missouri’s concealed carry laws where an attorney named Kevin Jamison was talking about when you were justified to use deadly force and it stuck with me because he used the acronym J.A.M. Is your life in jeopardy, do they have the ability and the means? He said those elements needed to be present for justification, will the same apply?
Joe: It still applies if you are using preemptive strike. In some situations if you do not utilize a preemptive strike you are not going to get another chance. It’s about how you are before and after the event. How you are before, during and after the event is key. It can’t become emotional. It’s all over and done with if we become emotional. Remember, professional, we just do the job, breathing smoothly is key.
S: If people haven’t added something like martial arts or blade work to their bag of tricks, how would you advise them to get started?
Joe: If they are not doing anything martial arts related they should know that awareness is paramount, 95% of crimes could be prevented if people were more aware. People put their awareness down, they lower the standards of awareness. When you walk to your car do you carry your bags in your dominant or non-dominant hand? If you stop at Wal-Mart late at night, when you leave the store to go to your car you see that the parking lot is mostly empty, but parked right next to your car is a van, what do you do?
I wanted to say “Shoot the hostage in the knee” but thought I might be pushing my luck, since I hope to attend another seminar some day.
S: Your book, how did that happen? What was the impetus?
Joe: It started as a manual for the students. I started it 7 years ago and I just kept adding things to it. I kept adding things as people kept asking questions. The more questions they asked, the more information it stimulated. A lot of the same questions kept coming up, so I wrote out the answers to the most common questions. Then 2-3 years ago people started asking me to publish it. It was something I wanted to tell people and what I wanted to do, was tell people it’s about living life as a person of dignity, honor and courage.
S: You have a new book coming out in May of 17, what the title and what will it cover?
Joe: The Bodyguard Enchiridion It goes deeper into the aspects of bodyguarding, a bit like what we did at the end of your last class.
S: There is a whole chapter on “Fear” in the book, and it covers a lot more of life than physical fights. It is absolutely excellent.
Tidbits from the book:
Fear is a very powerful emotion. It has a very strong effect on the mind and body because it is one of our natural survival responses. It tells you what to do in an emergency, like a fire or if you are being attacked.
We can also feel fears when faced with less dangerous situations, like exams, public speaking, a new job, a date, or even a social situation. It is a natural response to something that a person feels are a threat.
In this chapter he goes through things that can help you deal with your fears, such as the segment on knowing yourself, and that faith and spirituality can help you cope. But there’s more in it than these two things, though these stuck with me. He talks a lot more about fears, their genesis, their impact and practical ways to deal with them and choose empowering beliefs instead. Now you see why I said it is much more a book for living life?
And this ladies and gentlemen is where we will end up for this section. I have one more section to come and I can about 99.9% guarantee you that you that it will be coming from a completely different direction than you expect, and it is absolutely heart-warming. So hang on to the horn.
So for your movie clip this portion, I took one of those name quizzes on Facebook. Turns out I’m Eowyn of Rohan. Huh. Well, the name does mean “horse lover or horse friend”. According to the youtube clip, I think I should probably ask for a class in defense against the mace and other medieval weapons of war. Maybe he could do one this summer?
First, a little bit about Systema, from the ever popular Wikipedia.
Systema (Система, literally meaning The System) is a Russian martial art. Training includes, but is not limited to: hand-to-hand combat, grappling, knife fighting, and firearms training. Training involves drills and sparring without set kata. In Systema, the body has to be free of tensions, filled with endurance, flexibility, effortless movement, and explosive potential; the “spirit” or psychological state has to be calm, free of anger, irritation, fear, self-pity, delusion, and pride.
Systema focuses on breathing, relaxation, and fluidity of movement, as well as utilizing an attacker’s momentum against him and controlling the six body levers (elbows, neck, knees, waist, ankles, and shoulders) through pressure point application, striking, and weapon applications.
Our training philosophy is not to be confused with any traditional fighting arts and/or combat sports fighting systems. We are not in the business of taking years to teach a client how to incapacitate or eliminate even the most basic fighter, but rather months, comparable to the time a special ops soldier has to prepare for an operation.
There are just too many aspects of traditional fighting arts and sports-based fighting systems that are life-threateningly impractical and inefficient for the street and actual brutal violence.
Okay, so we’re good on what Systema’s purpose is? It is not about fighting for sport, it is not about scoring points. It’s about surviving, it’s about respect for life, even that of your attacker. This is something you might not be aware of, in the 1960s and 1970s if you were attacked and handed over your wallet or car keys, there was a 65-70% chance they would take the money and go away. Now, the odds are flipped in that if you hand over your wallet or your car keys there is a 65-70% chance they will assault you anyway. There is a huge lack of consideration for life these days. And that nugget my friends, came straight from a St. Louis police detective I know. A good guy, a warrior, you should get to know him. Let me see what I can do about that. He’s a United States Marine, State Department Diplomatic Security, St. Louis Police Department, and also owner of Systema St. Louis, who travels to teach and lecture. I think he has a pretty cool dog too.
I didn’t ask him, but I’m guessing he once in a while sleeps and eats. He will tell you that you don’t let fear dictate the outcome. What? You had in mind more detail than that? Well, I’m your girl, pick me, let me see what I can find out.
S: How did you come to be in the Marines? Was this a goal growing up, did you always feel the need to protect people?
Joe: I come from a family of proudly serving in the military. My Grandfather was in WWII, in the first wave to storm the beaches that had to clear the mess, and my father proudly served his country in the Marines in Viet Nam in the early 1960s. After his time in Viet Nam he continued to serve his country by training the young men going over, teaching them the valuable skills they would need to come home, alive.
It seems preserving life runs in the Mayberry family genes.
After the military, my Dad became a welder. I was blessed when I was still young by being able to spend a lot of time with Dad.
It sounds like a Dad he admired, was proud of and was close to. I can relate to that, I felt the same about mine.
S: So, you were that kid on the playground always protecting the kid that was getting picked on?
S: You were stationed in Israel at the Embassy for three years. You really don’t speak ANY Hebrew? You just forgot? I admitted my astonishment, I’m always trying to learn more Hebrew and get better at it. LIVING there for three years? I’d have been eating that up with my falafel and Israeli salad.
Joe: Well, I might remember a few words, I knew a little back then.
S: Did you ever feel you were in danger while you were there?
Joe: Yes, I did. But I learned to deal with it in a way so that it didn’t affect me negatively. I was there in the late 1980s and it was about protecting good from evil. I saw first hand that if nothing opposes evil it will absolutely succeed. I saw it, up close and personal. While I was in Israel I got to know some Israelis and I had the opportunity to train with the IDF who use Krav Maga. I trained 6 days a week with them, including in the desert. That was real Krav Maga, not Krav Maga for sport or fitness.
S: So after you were out of the Marine Corp and back in the states, what did you do?
Joe: The State Department, in Diplomat Security. You got to see more of the world while protecting people and their secrets. You might be standing in the hall by a doorway for 8-12 hours at a time. And while you were standing at that doorway, you are protecting whomever is behind that door. It was after the wall came down, and we began to see people down the hall who had been behind the wall. The Russians began showing up in front of doors in the hall as well. When you’re in those hallways for 8-12 hours you begin to talk to each other. You talk about common interests, things you both know.
(I figured this meant horses of course, apparently, to my shock, no).
Joe: We began talking about martial arts, I had been involved in the martial arts since 1974, long before my Krav Maga education. We discussed each others forms of martial arts and that’s when I began hearing about Vladimir Vasiliev. That would have been around 1994, 1995. Shortly after that I got out of the service. I was very interested in what I had heard about Vladimir, but I couldn’t find anything about him really. Then I picked up a copy of Black Belt magazine and in the back there was an ad for his school in Toronto. I called and talked to Valerie, his wife, and made an appointment to go. The first class with him was very humbling. He just mopped the floor with me. I have been in martial arts since 1974, trained with the IDF and he mopped the floor with me. It was a turning point. And I learned don’t forget the past, utilize it. Begin to think conceptual. There will always be chaos, and your best advantage is to be prepared. My role as an instructor is to help someone develop a useful, workable response to the chaos.
S: How good of shape do people have to be in to learn and do Systema? This had been one of my fears when I went to the first class, that I wouldn’t be in good enough shape.
Joe: Nobody has to be “fit” to be able to defend themselves. When I came back to the US after several years I saw Krav Maga really take off. It had turned into a fitness ploy. It had gone from being military training into martial arts fitness. It was attractive to those not in shape that wanted to learn to be safe. I really didn’t like that fad. They were telling people that if they weren’t in shape they couldn’t defend themselves. They made levels and added a fitness routine giving an illusion. It’s a sport now and not practical. I’m telling you no matter your age and shape you have a G-d given right to live, and to defend yourself.
S: When Scott (Van Kirk) worked with me he taught me about my “Systema happy place”. This involved keeping my energy low and a very neutral demeanor. It’s kind of what you use when working with horses, but does this just come with time and effort?
Joe: Energy, that happy place, has got to be professional to work. It’s about it becoming an ingrained, routine. Like when you get up of a morning, you go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, have some coffee. You can do these things calmly, without great thought and a minimum of effort, it just flows. When you are working Systema it needs to be 100% professional for it to become a smooth pattern with an economy of motion and thought, so much that it almost happens without awareness. Our subconscious takes over with the awareness of patterns. Systema strives to become the smooth pattern of economy of thought and a large part of instincts. The concepts of usage are universal.
S: What do you think is the biggest impediment to that is?
Joe: Internally people have fear. They don’t see their own possibilities. They allow their limitations to stop them. With conceptual martial arts it’s all within the person. If they realize what fears hold them back, they are free to do what they want.
Part 3 will pick up with more on the warrior mindset. Stay tuned, same bat time, same bat channel.
Early weapons of opportunity training, but no cape required.
Let me give you a hypothetical situation. Let’s say for example you were going to a foreign country. A foreign country, so you are not allowed to carry concealed, can’t carry your beautiful TZP Custom Kershaw folding knife , but a knife quite possibly could be used against you. In fact, there was a epidemic of people being attacked in that county, often by women and children. A tactical pen is a possibility. Maybe. What do you do? What do YOU do?
The answer to this will likely be different for everyone. For me, this was not a hypothetical situation last spring. It was exactly what I was facing, and I was feeling very vulnerable about the whole thing. I hate that feeling, vulnerable is rotten. I also hate inadequate, it’s right up there too, as is ancient. When I was younger I had perhaps capabilities I no longer have. So, what do you do? What do you do?
I think G-d stepped in on this one. A post by a buddy from the Second amendment arena, Scott Van Kirk, showed up in my Facebook time line. It was about a class that was coming up, a class on knife fighting, blade work if you will. I thought, hmm, perhaps? I asked when and where? The class was going to be close enough I could drive there, but it would be too late to help with the trip. The conversation came off Facebook and became emails. Scott talked to his instructor Joe, and explained the situation, he asked if Joe thought there was anything he could do to help me out. Scott said Joe told him to teach me, that Scott was certainly capable of helping me. So this good man offered to come help to help me learn enough to perhaps keep me alive should such a thing happen. There were a few things we talked about, there were considerations. One is I wasn’t traveling alone, the same girlfriend I had been in Israel with the last two years and I were traveling together again. And yes, I believe something I would try, was to ensure both of our safety. He also had a very honest talk with me about if this happens. Meaning if I’m attacked, I’m going to get cut, I’m going to get hurt, and I’m going to lose blood and quite possibly, likely will not look the same again. Sobering, very sobering thoughts. He stressed my goal, my objective is to live, to survive. That’s it. I will have scars? Ok, scars are tattoos with more interesting stories, but I am to come back, and come back in one piece (pretty much) and alive. And then we worked on tactics and techniques. With knives, pens, magazines (printed) and what I would call a kick pad. I finished up with some bruises and feeling awesome. Not bullet proof, not like I was Chuck Norris, but at least I had a few operating options. Bless that man, bless that man!!
Fast forward to fall of last year.
The blade work class was offered again, and it was in a place I considered close enough to drive. I bought a ticket. I had a lot of concerns. I was too old perhaps, and my physical condition was certainly not what it had been when I was younger. But I was still game, I still wanted to give myself that chance, so ticket it would be. Besides, it gave me a chance to deliver to my erstwhile mentor the only thing he had requested besides me returning alive. A nice big fat magazine that I was going to carry in my purse with me everywhere.
And that is how I came to meet Joe, Joe Mayberry. Joe is the instructor of the blade work class and Scott’s instructor.
Class was unlike about anything I expected. I found I was perfectly capable of doing the things we were taught, if unable to do them perfectly. Yet. We learned about how to move in such as way as to be less likely to be perceived as a threat while sensing others that may be a threat to us. Fabulous class, I soaked up what I was given like a little sponge.
After class I got up my courage and asked Mr. Mayberry if he would consider doing a interview with me for The Zelman Partisans, because this system was so different from anything I had been exposed to. He listened, asked a couple of questions and then agreed.
And then there were riots in various and sundry cities around the U.S. that weekend. Honest to goodness, some people have no consideration! I had an interview scheduled and they riot. How rude! My interview went down the tubes and for various reasons didn’t get rescheduled.
Fast forward to late winter of this year. There is another class, a yummy class on “Weapons of Opportunity”. Who wouldn’t want to take that class? I did, very much. It was coming to a location close enough for me to drive, so ticket it was.
Another wonderful class. Everyone in class is amazingly nice! The other students I work with are wonderful. I perhaps have a slightly skewed view of people. For example, a comment I made to a girl friend after the class was “oh, and then this one super nice guy Lon, taught me how to do a sleeper hold to neutralize someone unless I needed to do more!” And then “I accidentally stabbed this one really nice guy in the web of his hand because I let my adrenaline get out too high. But he was really nice about it. Luckily he didn’t bleed, much, a lot”. I later apologized to Karel about that. He was very, very gracious about it. And one nice young man, Alex, taught me that there is likelihood that someone with a tattoo will be protective of that area. Hmm, good to know!
The other women I trained with were awesome, as we poked, prodded and stabbed each other with various weapons and learned what did and didn’t work well. They generously shared knowledge of things they knew with great kindness, many of these women I think train in Systema on a regular basis. Throughout the whole class we had Scott “Buzzkill the safety squirrel” circulating making sure we had safety goggles on, and utilized safe practices. Yes, as we stabbed and tried to attack each other. He and Mr. Mayberry moved amongst us offering advice and ways to improve. We were all trying our best to duplicate the damage Mr. Mayberry had demonstrated inflicting on his willing victim, his son Joseph. Tough kid!
Do you have a cellphone, a comb, car keys or better yet a Mayberry key? You have a weapon.
I tell you these stories so you know I’m not just telling you about something I read, but something I am experiencing, a path, a whole path. It encompasses more than just a method of self defense, although that certainly is a huge component. But the path is Systema, the Russian martial art of self defense, and a philosophy of living.
I survived class, again. This time with a slightly ripped shirt, some blood on it, mostly mine I think, and elated. I again asked Joe, who kindly remembered me, for a interview. He again agreed if I would give him a riot free weekend. We got the riot free weekend, and I got my interview.
Ready to meet Joe? Because there is a whole lot covered in the first book by author and teacher Joe Mayberry.
So in this weeks Torah teaching Mishpatim, I learned a lot of things when I listened to this weeks Temple Talk radio show. This is probably no news to those more learned than I, and that probably doesn’t take much. But here’s what really struck me.
After the Ten Commandments are given, G-d asks one thing. That an alter be built for him out of earth. Because Adam rishon, Adam the first man, was made out of earth. The alter represents man, made of earth, because man was made of earth. And then it talks about the sacrifices of animals. Now here is where my thinking got a big wake up call. I’m human, human foibles, and faults there is no denying. I’ve never easily understood why innocent animals had to die because I made a mess of things. So the next part really was a light bulb for me.
Man had been making alters to G-d since Adam. Cain and Abel הֶבֶל ,קַיִן Qayin, Heḇel. Noach נח also made an alter. All these people, and this is not the whole list, made alters to G-d before Mt. Sinai, הר סיני, Har Sinai. What G-d was saying after he gave them the commandments, and the instructions on how to live good lives in a community was not some new thing. The people had already been building alters and sacrificing animals. Not because G-d had told them to, but because it was their attempt to reach up to G-d, their attempts to reach out to him. And it pleased him and basically he was saying “That thing ya’ll do? Yeah, I like that, you’re reaching up to me. Keep on doin’ that”. WOW. I’ve read that so many times, so many times and I’ve never put that together! I need to hear someone kind of put the pieces in place for me. It was there all along, and I just never thought of it like that.
Now, hang on to the saddle horn, the calf is fixin’ to cut to the right.
Not only in the movie, but in the topic. But it all fits together like the horse and rider.
How did the horse know the calf was going to cut to the right? It is part training and part instinct. The horse is reading the calf. You thought the rider was simply using the reins? Look how loose they are. Now I will be honest, I like cutting, it is as much fun as it looks to be. But it’s not my first choice of sport. But oh yes, it is a LOT of fun. You use your legs, but your horse is your partner, and they certainly do read the calf. As well as using their G-d given, man honed instincts. What can interfere with that? A rider holding too tightly too the reins, not a loose enough relaxed body, a rider who wants to micro-manage. A situation of not using the things already there, just waiting to be utilized. Horse, rider, calf and instinct. The calf’s to go back to the herd, and the horse and riders to cut it away from the herd.
Now, hang on to the horn, the calf is fixin’ to cut to the left.
It is the same with us. IF we have the chance to have someone lay out things we knew, but in a different way.
I was blessed recently by being able to attend a class. A class on weapons of opportunity. Let’s say you are in a situation where you are disarmed by law, or a bad person. You have to go to the hospital, or a doctor’s office. Yes, you can carry concealed. But if you have to don a gown and go for an x-ray, you have a problem. Or any other situation you care to come up with where you are attacked. What do you have on hand you could use to defend yourself? Can you think of anything? You probably have your car keys, a credit card? A comb? You probably wish you had a Mayberry key, if you know what that is. Could you defend yourself with a can of peas? Do you have the instinct to see a potential threat? Are they honed, have you trained yourself what to look for? Do you know the things that can interfere with your instincts? What part does fear play in dealing with these situations? Fear is always bad, right? No.
Does spirituality enter into the equation?
I heard a story recently in this class. The teacher related going to the store with his kids, he was looking at kitchen implements, like for a spatula. He was standing there regarding the choices and his son commented, “Dad is figuring out how to kill someone with that spatula”. And he was. It’s not about killing, it’s about being aware. It’s about being aware that if you needed to, you would have things available you could use to defend yourself and others you care about, and how you would go about that. What would you do if a bad person was holding someone you cared about by the neck with a knife to their throat? Could you intervene? Would you?
Curious? GOOD! Stay tuned because I plan to shed some light on these questions and the person who teaches the class, along with a whole lot more about an amazing system of defense. If we can have a riot free weekend!
No sooner do we get the Menorahs put up, the last of the chocolate coin tin foils in the garbage and the olive oil spatter, cleaned off the kitchen vent hood, a military tribunal representing the very worst of Hellenized/Socialist/Ghetto Jew mentality still afflicting modern Israel, brings us a belated Chanukah lesson.
The conviction of Elor Azariah for Manslaughter.
Anticipating an objection, about the only thing I wish to add to the reaction below, is that it has very little to do with the uniform. It has everything to do with the healthy psychology of any human being, when faced with a dedicated murderer.
It is no surprise that Elor Azaryah, the IDF soldier accused of shooting and killing a wounded terrorist, was convicted today. Any other outcome would have been a stinging slap in the face of a much too broad elite and their erroneous assumptions.
Elor was the only uniformed man in the area who acted in a moral manner. The bullet that he shot and the publicity generated by the radical Left B’tzelem’s film of the terror attack and its aftermath – recalibrated the moral coordinates in the arena.
The concept of murdering Jews just because they are Jews is not justiciable! Putting Elor on trial is not moral! The standard bearers of destruction of the Jews and those who act upon those evil principles do not deserve a trial. They lose their right to exist, and anybody who eliminates them and ensures that they are dead is performing the most just and lofty moral act.
The bullet that Elor shot restored the dimension of justice to the arena. The question mark that the knifing terror had etched over the right of the Jews to live, was erased by the clear exclamation point drawn by Elor.
Elor’s moral act was the antidote to the poisonous de-legitimization of Jewish existence – the poison against which Israel’s entire security apparatus stood helpless. His moral act stopped the knifing terror (a fact that can be clearly proven). Elor’s conviction will likely reignite the stabbings.
A cogent answer to the gutlessness of the Tribunal. here is another analysis, from last Spring.