The Father of Israeli Hip Hop – and Hebrew Martial Arts
Nigel Wilson (b. 1958) was born in Jamaica to a Chasidic family, and grew up in Los Angeles. There, he fervently studied the Korean martial arts of Tang Soo Do and Kuk Sool Won, earning black belts in each before working as a martial arts trainer and bodyguard. At the same time, he took a great interest in LA’s hip hop scene. In 1989, Wilson moved to Israel and became a rap artist himself, under the stage name Nigel Ha’Admor. His songs gave rise to a new form of “street Hebrew”, and inspired later famous Israeli rappers like Subliminal and Hadag Nahash, which is why some have described Wilson as the “father of Israeli hip hop”. By 2000, his rapping days were behind him, and Wilson went back to martial arts, heading a Korean martial arts school in Jerusalem for a couple of years before opening his own schools in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These schools, however, were quite different, teaching a new martial arts style that Wilson, now known as Yehoshua Sofer, called Abir Qesheth. Hebrew for “Bow Warrior”, Sofer claimed that this was an ancient Israelite martial art going back to at least the time of King David, and passed down in secret from generation to generation by a small group of grandmasters. He claimed to have received this wisdom from his own father, tracing it back through their Yemenite Jewish roots, as the secluded Jews in Yemen were the last to carry on the Abir tradition. Not surprisingly, many scoff at Sofer’s claims, especially in light of his background in the entertainment industry. However, researchers have indeed found a great deal of supporting evidence for his claims, and Abir has grown tremendously in popularity. Today, it is a complete fighting system with unique, practical self-defense tactics based on the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. More significantly, Abir incorporates spiritual teachings, Jewish prayer, and Torah study, making it truly one-of-a-kind. Before all else, Sofer’s greatest vision is to end the age-old stereotype of the “weak diaspora Jew” and bring back the old spirit of the ancient Hebrew warrior.
Words of the Week
Impossible is a word found only in the dictionary of fools.
– Napoleon Bonaparte