After MP’s murder, UK lawmakers turn to Israeli martial art
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After MP’s murder, UK lawmakers turn to Israeli martial art

British members of parliament study Krav Maga, learning how to disarm and then flee from potential attacker

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Soldiers from the IDF's Golani Brigade seen during Krav Maga training at the Regavim Army base on April 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
Soldiers from the IDF's Golani Brigade seen during Krav Maga training at the Regavim Army base on April 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

After the murder of MP Jo Cox in the contentious run-up to June’s Brexit referendum on remaining in the European Union, British lawmakers are learning the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga in order to defend themselves from possible violent attacks.

Parliament members and their staffers are being offered free classes as a way of fighting off possible assailants armed with knives or guns, the Daily Mail reported.

The lessons are being provided by Parli-Training, a company that normally provides advice on lobbying and speech writing, the report said. Two MPs and 18 parliamentary aides attended the first training session, according to company founder Mendora Ogbogbo.

‘We are teaching them techniques where if someone comes at them with a knife or a gun, they can disarm the weapons and then run. They are not being taught how to fight,” Ogbogdo told the Daily Mail.

“Another technique we are teaching them is called the ‘rhino,’ where they know how to cover the vulnerable parts of their heads when someone is punching them. This will give them a vital three or four minutes before someone intervenes.”

Ogbogdo said the lessons will focus on the most common forms of physical attacks, including a “swinging punch to the head”; “a bottle, glass or ashtray to the head”; and a “slash with a knife, most commonly a 3-4 inch lock blade or kitchen utility knife.”

First developed in 1940s Israel by a Hungarian Jew, Krav Maga — Hebrew for “contact combat” — borrows techniques from boxing, wrestling and jiu jistu.

With Nazism and Fascism on the rise in 1930s Europe, Imi Lichtenfeld gathered around him a group of young Jews he wanted to train in self-defense. After fleeing Europe in the early ’40s, he joined the newly formed Israeli army in 1948, where he tried to create a method of self-defense that was simple, effective and quick to learn in order to meet the military’s needs.

A still image taken from a video of late Krav Maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld offering instruction in the Israeli martial art (screen capture: YouTube)
A still image taken from a video of late Krav Maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld offering instruction in the Israeli martial art (screen capture: YouTube)

Krav Maga immediately become part of the army’s doctrine, and has evolved over the years in line with the needs and feedback of soldiers in the field.

Several foreign militaries have since adopted the method, recruiting former Israeli army instructors to teach their troops.

Labour MP Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed by a far-right activist on June 16 in her Yorkshire constituency as she was campaigning for the UK to remain in the European Union ahead of the Brexit referendum.

Fifty-two-year-old Thomas Mair was charged with the murder. It was reported that Nazi regalia and far-right literature were found at Mair’s house by policemen following the killing. When asked his name in court he said “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”

Last month a British man was charged with harassment for sending death threats and anti-Semitic messages to a Jewish Labour MP.

Flowers surrounding a picture of Jo Cox during a vigil in Parliament Square in London, England, June 16, 2016. (JTA/Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Flowers surrounding a picture of Jo Cox during a vigil in Parliament Square in London, England, June 16, 2016. (JTA/Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

John Nimmo, 28, was charged with two counts of causing stress and anxiety for sending Luciana Berger pictures of knives with messages warning her that she would “get it like Jo Cox” and to “watch your back Jewish scum, regards your friend the Nazi.”

Berger told the court that Nimmo’s threats caused her “huge distress” and that she was “concerned for my safety and felt immediately threatened.”

“The biggest concern was not knowing who this was, for all I knew the offender could have resided next door to me,” she said during the hearing. “I have had anti-Semitic messages before, but to have both together, alongside reference to my colleague Jo Cox, was terrifying.”

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