Monday, March 24, 2008

A Biblical Martial Art?

It looks like in these days everyone knows about Krav Maga. It is everywhere: in How I Met Your Mother, Splinter Cell and Wolverine. If you still haven't heard about it, I will post something about this Martial Art which I also practice. So don't worry. :)

Yet today, our subject is "Abir". Just like Krav Maga and it's derivatives, it is originated from Middle East, but not from Israel. It is originated from Yemen! It's Abir Aluf(The Grandmaster) is "Joshua Sofer" whom you can see on the right. I will tell more about him later.

Abir is an ancient Jewish Martial Art. It is originated from Habbani Jews who were originally living in Yemen in vast numbers before they were expelled. The literal meaning of Abir is "warrior," "fighter," or "strong" in Hebrew. It's semitic root is "Aleph-Beth-Resh." In Hebrew Alphabet it is written as "אַבִּיר".

Abir has different attack styles for each of the 12 Hebrew tribes and its defensive movements are derived from the shapes of old Hebrew Alphabet.

The place where it has been practiced is called "Beit Abir" which literally means the "Abir House". Abir takes its roots from Jewry as I told, so it is a "conservative" martial art...

So, what is a conservative martial art??

Trainings open with the reading of Torah. There are numerous references to Jewry and Midrash, so if you want to understand the philosophy behind the system you have to know something about Judaism.
Yehoshua Sofer is the "Abir Aluf" (The Grandmaster of the Abir now. You can see one of his pictures on the fly on the left side). :)

He is an Habbani Jew and also he is a follower of Chassidism. He is an extremely fast fighter, thanks to his 45 years of physical and mental training. He began to involve in Martial Arts when he was 3!

According to Yehoshua Sofer:

My family lived in Israel for 100 generations, since the time of Saraya Sofer — a royal scribe and warrior who served the kingdom of Israel. Both ancient Israelite writing and martial arts traditions, were handed down in my family from generation to generation.

The Sofer family has a tradition that, following the wars of Bar Kokhba, their ancestors lived in Piq'in near Tiberias for one thousand years, and at the time of the Crusades, moved to Hevron, where they lived for another one thousand years, some of them moving back and forth between Israel and Yemen all the while.

Members of the Sofer family moved between Jerusalem and Habban in eastern Aden to cities such as Baidha. "Baidha" means "white" in Yemeni Arabic. While in Israel, Nachman Sofer and his youngest son, Ya`aqov Mosha, Yehoshua Sofer's father, left the region for Jamaica following the Chevron massacres of 1929. From there they would move to the United States and later back to Israel.

I can hear you saying "It is so much words for a Martial Art! Let's see it in action!". Here it comes folks:

And here is defense of "Isshakar Tribe" against choking.

You can find more about Abir at Abir Warrior Arts.


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