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Tools of Battle

This week one of my Maori friends came to visit and was playing on my computer when we got into a heated conversation about which civilization invented the Special Forces. My friend told me that way before the white man even conceived the use of Special Forces his people used key warriors tasked with eliminating enemy chiefs and messengers. These men would attack using a flexible and independent command infrastructure. There were also Maori berserker units, matataki-a-whiro, who would carry out suicide missions with no regard for their own personal safety.

Still I had to disagree as thousands of years before the Maori even came to New Zealand my own people were using hand-picked men for military operations. I am adamant that Special Forces are a Jewish invention. This is clearly documented in the Old Testament where Gideon sent his men on a forced march and observed how they drank water at a rendezvous. He only picked those who remained alert and focused despite being tired and thirsty. I read in a military book that this was the first documented use of Special Forces in history.

Throughout the scriptures the Hebrew warrior has won against superior odds by using the element of surprise. This tactic is still evident in modern Israel. This is what I try to drill into my students. Strike when least expected, do it when the adversary is confused and off balance or feint and strike. I encourage yelling and using the voice as a weapon to unsettle an opponent. This is something that is seen time and again when I teach Taekwondo. A powerful kiap adds resolve and stops you hesitating when delivering an explosive attack at close quarters.

Diversion is another tactic that can be equally utilized by generals as well as someone fending off an attacker in a dark alley. Those who have done classes on improvised weapons with me know that I advocate the use of small objects such as coins to be thrown at the attacker’s face before launching an attack. Dirt, sand or a cup of coffee can be easily used to the same effect. Surprise is a time honoured tool of battle that is central to the Krav Maga philosophy.

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