From Street Fighting to Self Defense System
When Moshe was 14 years old he chose to journey to (what would become) Israel. He joined the Baranovich group and began the construction of Tel-Aviv. During this time, Moshe was given many opportunities for hand combat. The Baranovich group was part of the Hagana (the Jewish defense organization) and was taught Ju-jutsu as a form of self-defense. In interviews, Moshe tells us that their knowledge was not efficient in real combat situation. They were attacked with sharp knives and many where injured, even killed. Moshe said that those who had not learned Ju-jutsu were better off because they were more likely to run away and be alive for another day. Watching the failure of one system, allowed Moshe to question and begin developing his own system. From experience Moshe knew that if a person had to think too much about the movement, they were dead before they would be able to move. Therefore he was looking for movements that people would do without thinking. He also began to realize that there are certain movements that we do, “in spite of our conscious will.”
So Moshe based his system on the first natural response.
The book – Jiu-Jitsu and Self Defense
Moshe published in 1931 his ideas and self defense techniques in a book written in Hebrew and titled “Jiu-Jitsu and self defense”.
I’ll start with emphasizing the fact that this book was written in a developing community (much different environment than today’s world of information and technology), by a considerably young man, with curiosity and fighting spirit, with a goal to contribute to his society, and with sparkles of genius qualities.
This book contains a full self defense method. Moshe demonstrates wide range of techniques and explains concepts of self defense, through describing dangerous situations.
Moshe’s concerned about the Mental State of Mind in violence situation, and about learning principles. He covers self defense against grappling, chocks, dagger and guns attacks, and explains falling and boxing.
I believe that this book and his content would not be available unless the reality Moshe lived in and his practical fighting experience. Here I would say that Moshe was physically strong man and determined fighter, but for the ordinary person, he should pay attention to the learning advises and the theoretical issues that explained in this book, thus will gain the ability for effective performance of the techniques. Moshe also emphasize it by updated titles for the book: “The Defense of the weak against the aggressor”, “Science versus Brute Force” or “Ju-Jutsu for Intellectuals”
Here I will write shortly about the basic concept of the book and about the boxing chapter. Also it is important to relate to the outcomes of this book in the developing process of Moshe as Martial Artists.
The Basic Concept and Quick Learning Process
Moshe explains in the Jujutsu book, in the chapter he titled “elementary principles”, his concept of “first natural response”. It had two folds:
A. First is the fact that “The first movement of each counter is the most natural movement dictated by the instinct of conservation or self-defense. It will always be the movement which is called forth in spite of oneself, almost as a reflex. And one has only to learn how to finish the counter, the choice having been already made by nature itself.
B. Second is the quick learningprocess: Moshe wrote in the Jujutsu book “Practice shows that a comparatively short period of training is amply sufficient to learn how to continue the counter which was already begun, and how to carry it out effectively.
The contact between the part of the body which produces the first instinctive movement and the limb of the aggressor or his weapon calls forth the impulsion that urges you to continue. And one succeeds in carrying out the necessary counter in practice as well as in the training hall, if not better, owing to the greater zeal one puts into real defense”.
Blows (punches) and their Defense
I think that in this short chapter Moshe succeeded to brilliantly present the essence of boxing.
The quotes show Moshe’s knowledge in boxing – Moshe explains in his special way the organization of the body for an effective punch:
A straight left punch ought to be given so that all the joints interposed between the knuckles of the left fist and the right toe form no angle, so far as possible, the connecting bones being the straight coextension of one another.
Once more, in this chapter, we meet Moshe’s practical attitude. Moshe thanked at the beginning of this book to Amiel (Emil) Avineri. Emil was then the regional boxing champion, and was Moshe’s training partner and appears in many photos of this book. One of the famous fights was when Emil won the fight against Muhamad Nagib, the Egyptian army Champion, that later became to be the president of the Egypt.
The Jiu-Jitsu book and meeting Pro. Jigoro Kano
In September 1933 Moshe met Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo.
Here is a quote from Jigoro’s diary – “At that time a Jewish scholar named Feldenkrais happened to be in the audience. His remarks to me after the lecture were very enlightening. He asked if we could get together to talk further. We agreed on a date to meet at my hotel. He had a remarkable background: a Russian-born Jew with Palestinian citizenship who had studied in France. He could speak many languages, including English, German, Russian, and Hebrew; and he spoke French like a native. He brought a book he had written about judo with him and asked me to take a look at it”.
Jigoro looked at the book and later wrote introduction to the French version – “Though this book is not entirely conformable to my own conception of the true Jiudo, it is none the less the best work published on the subject in any other language but Japanese”.