“The Rabbi” of MMA

There are certain combinations of words that catch a person’s attention because they’re not normally synonymous with one another. “Rabbi Wins First Amateur MMA Bout by TKO” is just one of those combinations. A Rabbi? Winning an MMA bout? One might ask, what is a rabbi doing in an MMA bout in the first place?

BACKGROUND

Yossi Eilfort is an Orthodox rabbi based out of California. Like any Orthodox rabbi he wears a yarmulke, prays each day and observes the Sabbath. Besides for spending his life mastering religious nuances and understanding the Torah from which his beliefs are based, Yossi also spent 12 years studying Krav Maga – a self-defense martial art developed by the Israeli military.

WHY MMA?

Eilfort began training in MMA as both a personal challenge, and to educate people on the benefits of physical fitness. Anyone who has ever trained in MMA can attest that, while a combat sport, the training regimen leads to superb physical fitness and conditioning. Those who master the art of Krav Maga or MMA also, by default, become highly skilled in self-defense.

VIOLENCE VS. SELF-CONTROL

Eilfort certainly brought both aspects of his character into the Octagon with him. He found the balance between the violence of MMA and his own natural instincts to show restraint and self-control. Something can be learned from that fact that, despite his restraint, Yossi Eilfort still succeeded in defeating his opponent via TKO (Technical Knock-Out).

FITNESS & SELF-DEFENSE

Considering the attention his story has gotten, Yossi has certainly succeeded in getting the word out about the benefits of mastering the martial arts. He’s also taught that it doesn’t have to be about violence, but preparedness. Someone who wishes to master these techniques doesn’t necessarily have to hop into an Octagon or a Boxing Ring. The skills people can learn will help their body and, possibly, help them to one day defend themselves or others if ever the need arises.

The Morals of Boxing

Martial arts

There’s no denying it – boxing can be a violent, dangerous sport. In a recent article, one rabbi does a fairly good job of summarizing the history of Jews in boxing. Medical conditions that have been known to result from frequent, intense boxing are also well fleshed out in the article. The rabbi also brings a unique spin by discussing the religious ramifications of boxing. He cites various sources to come to the conclusion that, according to Jewish law, boxing is forbidden.
The rabbi chooses to emphasize all of the negative aspects of boxing, which generally only happen in the most extreme cases. Not everyone gets into boxing to become a full-time professional, going from title belt to title belt and cashing large checks. Boxing can also be used for strength, conditioning, discipline and self-defense. For certain members of society, better they take out their anger and aggression in a gym than on the streets.
Cardio exercises in the form of boxing can be some of the best in the world, and they don’t always need to involve hitting another person. The training and regiment alone can put anyone into the best shape of their lives, without ever having to step foot in a boxing ring. Boxing-style workouts can involve punching bags, jump ropes and weight training.
And for those who wish to actually step into a boxing ring and face an opponent – protective gear can be worn to minimize the risk of damage. Facing a real opponent can teach people how to think on their feet and react to certain situations. Like with all things in life, a person can either learn to fail, or fail to learn.
For those that actually make it to the professional level, long-term injuries don’t have to be a guarantee. Each boxer has to know their own limits, and throw in the proverbial towel when it’s time to quit. Consulting with a medical professional on a regular basis, especially before even taking up a particular sport, is always recommended.
I’m no rabbi. All I can say in response to the sources that this particular rabbi cites is that those who hold by these kinds of traditions should consult with their own religious leader. Explain why they wish to take on a sport like boxing. Explain what they hope to gain from the experience. Nothing in the world is solely black or white. Perhaps their rabbi can help them to find a way to take on the sport, while still remaining in their religious comfort zone.

*Image courtesy of arztsamui/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Martial Arts

TeddyBear[Picnic] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

TeddyBear[Picnic] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Martial arts are a series of traditional combat practices embraced for many different reasons. It is practiced for health and fitness, for self-defence, for personal development and as a competitive sport. A martial art is more than just a sport, it is practiced to achieve long term mental, spiritual and physical development and it is a way of life. Although the sport is recognized throughout the world, there are some interesting and lesser known facts about martial arts – here are five of them.

  1. Martial Arts Develop the Mind
    A common misconception exists that martial arts are only about fighting. By taking part in this disciplined sport, strength of character is developed. Of course, it requires serious physical training and teaches students how to punch and kick, but, it also involves developing consciousness and morality. Respecting the opponent is essential in martial arts training and qualities like self-control and determination are developed in students. Advancement of imagination, observation and memory are natural by-products of practicing martial arts over time.
  2. The Origin of Army Hand-to-hand Combat as a Military Applied Sport
    Army hand-to-hand combat as a military applied sport, started in 1979 in Kaunas in Lithuania. It was created by physical preparation experts of the Soviet Army and includes elements of boxing, judo and wrestling. The first tournament was held on the 7th Guards Airborne Division troops’ sport base, and it has since grown to an annual event, as well as being included in the army basic training curriculum.
  3. Martial Arts Should not Only be Practiced in a Gym or Centre
    While most martial arts classes are offered in gyms or martial arts centres, the practical application of what is taught usually happens outside these areas. Self-defence, in particular is studied with the aim of providing defence against attack – something not likely to happen in a gym or centre. For this reason, it is recommended that students regularly practice in other environments.
  4. Most Martial Arts Dedicate Large Sections to Self Defence
    Many different types of martial arts are geared towards self defence. The Russian martial art called sambo is an acronym in Russian, literally translated to: “self-defence without weapons” A series of fast and accurate strikes, kicks or punches, is recommended along with continued training in the chosen field. A few classes in a martial art is simply not adequate to equip somebody for successful self-defence.
  5. Martial Arts are not Just Asian
    Despite the erroneous belief that martial arts are the fighting styles used in eastern Asia, it was actually used in Europe as early as the 14th century. The term “martial arts” is said to be derived from “arts of Mars” – Mars being the Roman god of war. Many countries across the world have their own martial arts. In Bolivia there is tinku and in Russia, army hand-to-hand fight, sambo and systema are practiced. Brazil has martial arts like capoeira and Brazilian jiu-jitsu while South Africa has a bare-knuckle boxing martial art called musangwe.

What is life? Fight!

Anatoly Roksman was born in Moscow in 1967. His family was poor, but well educated. His mother worked in a bookstore and his father was a very talented artist. Roksman also had a brother, who lost his life at a young age. Roksman never felt the poverty of his childhood. Roksman learned early in life that to be successful one must fight. But, he knew that shaking one’s fists without a target is pointless and a waste of time. Being a lover of the fight, Roksman had to find a positive outlet, which he found in the martial arts.
Roksman’s entrance into the world of martial arts began with Judo. When he was 8 years old, he enrolled in Judo lessons at a sports facility near his home, known as “Hammer and Sickle.” Boris Kornyushin coached him in Judo and Sambo, and helped him to develop proficiency in both, to the point where he could successfully compete. For the next ten years, Roksman competed and emerged victorious in Judo and Sambo matches, winning many titles and prizes. When he was 16, he entered the level of “master” and, until 18, fought numerous matches at the master level. All of these activities kept Roksman pretty busy, but he managed to find time to take up the sport of boxing, entering the ring to compete in section matches, or just casual play with friends in makeshift neighborhood gyms. He joined the army in 1982, with a strong record of competition and a coaching certificate.
The army recruiters immediately recognized Roksman’s expertise in fighting and steered him to the Seventh Guards Airborne Division. He was enrolled in a select school for training in reconnaissance missions. He graduated as a “senior intelligence officer.” This environment fit perfectly with his skills in the fighting arts.
Soon after arrival at his next assignment, Roksman began competing in the Sambo Open Division Championships. He finished every match in first place. As a member of the Seventh Guards Airborne Division boxing team, Roksman competed in the Airborne Forces of the USSR championships.
Anatoly Roksman’s specialty in the army was ARB—a technique of close combat fighting. He added to his arsenal of fighting arts the skill of Army melee and became champion of the Airborne Forces of the USSR in 1986 in the 85 kg category.
Roksman earned numerous awards of excellence during his distinguished career in the army, including: Warrior Athlete 1st degree, Parachutist-Excellence, Specialist 1st Class, and Guard Excellence AS, among others.
Roksman had every hope of leaving his army life and moving immediately into a successful business career. But his retirement coincided with a monumental event—the fall of the Soviet Union. At the same time Roksman was trying to build his new business life, his country was dealing with the political, social and economic ramifications of a wholesale regime shift. Roksman’s business had to take shape more slowly. Still, not deterred, Roksman’s patient and persistent building of his business foundation would prove to be one of the key elements of his future business success.  Anatoly Roksman became engaged in many business enterprises across the globe. Even though his major focus was now on building the corporate identity he wanted for himself, he never abandoned the sports he loved so much. He began studying and gaining skill in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai and kickboxing.
Anatoly Roksman’s enthusiasm for the martial arts extends beyond personal satisfaction from his competitions. He believes that the same traits of discipline, self-assuredness and strength in character necessary to be a martial arts champion are what makes one a champion in the business world.
Roksman hopes to open a center where students can come and acquire the skills of self-defense and close combat fighting.
Roksman did not limit himself to physical sports competitions. As a child, he learned the complex game of chess with his father and he eventually became quite talented. Athletics and staying physically fit are important elements in the daily life of Roksman. Twice a day he makes time for weight training, running, swimming and boxing.
Roksman’s very busy life leaves him with little free time, but with what there is, he nurtures his soul by reading and art collection.
At the call of the heart
Anatoly Roksman has traveled many roads and succeeded in many areas of his life. But, he has never forgotten from where he came. An example is the World Congress of Russian-speaking Jews, an organization he founded and headed as vice-president. He sponsored many other projects of philanthropy with his colleagues, has a strong belief in Zionism and is a committed and generous supporter of Chabad. Roksman joined others in sponsoring a new Jewish community center in Berlin. The Center houses many components to benefit the community, including a yeshiva, computer center, synagogue, school and restaurant.
Citizen of the World
Roksman continues to direct the majority of his time and efforts to building success in his business ventures. His main endeavor over the last ten years, in cooperation with his business associates, has been RusMedia. This company serves the Russian-speaking community residing in Germany. Roksman is also actively engaged in other financial schemes around the world.
Martial arts training and sports competitions have given Anatoly Roksman a strong belief in self, as well as a world vision of unlimited potential for success. He is proficient in many languages including, of course, his native Russian, Hebrew, German, Italian and English. He has plans to learn Japanese, tour the world and strengthen his business acumen.