Tag Archives: martial arts

Jew of the Week: Yehoshua Sofer

The Father of Israeli Hip Hop Рand Hebrew Martial Arts 

Nigel Wilson, aka Yehoshua Sofer

Nigel Wilson, aka Yehoshua Sofer

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

Jews of the Week: Imi Lichtenfeld and Roy Elghanayan

Krav Maga & The Jewish Bruce Lee

Lichtenfeld

Lichtenfeld

Imre Lichtenfeld (1910-1998) was born in Budapest and grew up in Bratislava. His father was a police chief inspector who also owned the Hercules Gymnasium where he taught acrobatics and self-defense. Training under his father, Lichtenfeld became Slovakia’s Wrestling Champion, Boxing Champion, and Gymnastics Champion. In response to rising anti-Semitism in the 1930s, he put together a group of Jewish boxers that defended local communities from thugs. He realized that his training was of little help in real-life combat situations, so he started developing a new system of self-defense based on practical techniques, natural motions, and “simultaneous defense and attack”. In 1940, Lichtenfeld left Czechoslovakia due to the Nazi invasion and joined the Free Czech Legion, fighting alongside the British Army in North Africa. After two years of distinguished service, he finally made his way to Israel, and was immediately recruited to train the fighters of Haganah and Palmach (the Jewish defense groups that later became the IDF). His very effective self-defense system became known as Krav Maga – “contact combat” or “close combat”. With the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, Lichtenfeld (now better known by his Hebraicized name Imi Sde-Or) was appointed the IDF’s Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga. He served in this role for the next 20 years, then shifted his focus to training Israeli police, while also opening two training centres for the general public in Tel-Aviv and Netanya. In 1995, he founded the International Krav Maga Federation.

Elghanayan (courtesy: bjjlegends.com)

Elghanayan (courtesy: bjjlegends.com)

Perhaps the best-known Krav Maga expert today is Roy Elghanayan (b. 1984),¬†nicknamed the “Jewish Bruce Lee”. He began his training in Krav Maga and martial arts at an early age, and his skills were quickly recognized when he joined the IDF. He soon became the Chief Instructor of Krav Maga for the Israeli Special Forces. He holds a 4th Degree Black Belt, and is recognized as Israel’s Official International Ambassador for Authentic Krav Maga. He is also the only person to hold two Israeli Krav Maga national championship titles. Over the years, he has developed his own unique style, and has taught self-defense all over the world, including to the LAPD and the CIA. He currently runs a Krav Maga club in Los Angeles, and has also choreographed fights for some Hollywood films. When asked about the secret ingredient in his diet, he answered: “I only eat kosher protein”. Click here to see Elghanayan in action.

Words of the Week

Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face.
– Mike Tyson