Moni Aizik

I met Moni Aizik a few months ago but have heard about him for some time now. Everyone who knows him praises him highly and deeply respects the man as a person and as an accomplished fighter and trainer. Moni is also an accomplished pianist and has played the classics and contemporary music for 12 years now. In addition he is also an artist painting in oils and a skillful chess player. Moni lives in Toronto, but visits his family in New York quite frequently and that gave me the perfect opportunity for this interview.

Realfighting: You're in your early fifties, but you look like someone in their early thirties, shape wise, how do you do it?

Moni Issac: I developed a unique military-style training routine which I do two and a half hours daily, it includes: an hour of calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) I try to beat my records daily. I run hills with a 40lb. backpack for 90 minutes each day, six days a week, and I also do combat fighting drills with some of my advanced students.

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RF: You're an ex-Israeli commando, were you involved in any of the wars?

Moni: Yes, I was in the Yom Kippurim war in 1973

RF: What were your duties?

Moni: Mainly patrolling behind enemy lines and performing special commando missions!

RF: Were you in any special unit?

Moni: Yes, I was an officer in an elite Special Forces unit called Sayret.

RF: What was it like?

Moni: Extreme violence every day -- I witnessed death quite often



RF: Were you involved in any major battles

Moni: Yes, my entire unit was nearly wiped out in an ambush

RF: Ambush?

Moni: Yes, we were ambushed by over one thousand Syrians; there were only 64 of us in our unit, and only six of us survived

RF: Where did that occur?

Moni: In the Golan Heights

RF: I presume your unit was dissolved after that, what was your next assignment?

Moni: Yes, it was dissolved. The next assignment the army gave me was to develop krav maga a little more -- to take it to the next level.



RF: A military version of krav maga?

Moni: Yes, my job was to improve the curriculum of Krav-Maga, to make it more adaptable for the army; more comprehensive, practical and straight forward.

RF: Did you work with Imi Lichtenfeld?

Moni: Yes, I met him and we collaborated for about a year

RF: When was that?

Moni: That was from 1973 to 1974

RF: Tell me about that experience



Moni: Imi was a very nice gentleman; friendly, outgoing and positive, we respected each other, and he was always open to new approaches.

RF: What did each of you bring to the table?

Moni: Well, Imi's background was in wrestling and boxing. My background was in judo and jujitsu; I also had real combat experience and understood what techniques could potentially work better in a life and death situation.

RF: Did your collaboration result in a definitive system of krav maga?

Moni: It became the standard for some of the best Special Forces units in Israel.

RF: Did you try out any techniques in battle?

Moni: Yes, some things were too complicated and I threw them out, I eliminated all of the fancy techniques.

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RF: So that's the curriculum they're teaching at Wingate now?

Moni: There are two areas at Wingate, the civilian and the military, they're teaching this on the military side. Soldiers need to learn useful and practical techniques fast, they don't have the luxury to take years of close quarter combat.

RF: You mentioned that you've noticed different types of personalities in the combat?

Moni: Yes, first there is the soldier who's scared before combat, but performs fine during actual combat. Then there's the soldier who feels nothing before combat but is scared during combat and does not perform well. Then there's the soldier who feels nothing before or during combat and perform well, but gets scared afterwards, once he realizes what happened.

RF: Is this the same with top fight competitors?

Moni: Yes, exactly so…

RF: There are so many different factions of krav maga around the world today, how can you distinguish one from another?

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Moni: The difference of the Israeli systems (krav maga is only one of them) is mainly based on the perspective that each instructor brings to krav maga (or the other Israeli arts). The rest is politics.

RF: Are you talking about their backgrounds in martial arts?

Moni: Yes, some people have an aikido background, some boxing and others karate. Although krav maga has a basic set of moves, the emphasis will vary due to the instructor's background.

RF: How do you account for the popularity of krav maga in the United States and Europe?

Moni: I think krav maga and other Israeli-styles are popular because people in America and Europe are looking to learn something fast. They don't have the patience to learn a life-time (long-term) martial art!

RF: Then you're saying the advantages are practicality?

Moni: Yes, it's very practical (but that also depends on the individual instructor)



RF: What about the disadvantages?

Moni: Well, there are no shortcuts in life! Meaning that you have to understand that there is no instant system when it comes to being prepared to defend your life, or the life of your loved ones!!!

RF: You mentioned the other Israeli arts, what are they?

Moni: Kapap, lotar, hagana, hisradut, combat survival and more…

RF: What's the difference between them?

Moni: They're all very similar, all basically mixed martial arts that have been tested and improved over years by the Israeli army. The main differences are in the marketing, not in the substance.

RF: So after you developed the military version of krav maga what did you do next?

Moni: I left the army in 1976 and started my own school in Tel Aviv, It was called Maccabi-Tel Aviv

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RF: Did you teach krav maga?

Moni: Yes, but I also mixed in things I learned since childhood, such as judo and jujitsu.

RF: What's it called?

Moni: My style called "Israeli combat survival" and it's considered a highly effective system.

RF: What's it based on?

Moni: It's based on my vast experience in different Israeli army systems combined with my Judo/Jujitsu/no holds bared/Olympic and lifetime knowledge!

RF: Is it more combat oriented or sport based?

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Moni: it covers all aspects of real hand-to-hand combat and weapons as taught to the best elite commando units in Israel and around the world! All my students learn not only useful techniques but also get into amazing combat shape and very strong mental state (this based on my own special set of physical and mental exercises that I developed!)

RF: So how did the school develop?

Moni: Within a few years my school became the biggest and most popular school in Israel.

RF: So you basically started to train your students in mixed martial arts?

Moni: Yes, we taught many systems, everything from combat to sports. One of my Israeli students, Avi Nardia started at my school in Israel as a kid and became very successful in the U.S teaching Israeli Combat Survival and Lotar!

RF: Have you also taught Judo?

Moni: Yes, and jujitsu, krav maga, women's self-defense and many other disciplines

RF: Did you learn judo and jujitsu in Israel?

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Moni: Actually I learned judo and jujitsu in Holland

RF: Oh, but I thought you were from Israel?

Moni: I am, but my parents were diplomats and they were stationed in Amsterdam

RF: How old were you when you moved?

Moni: I was five years old

RF: Is that when you started your judo training?

Moni: Yes, I trained under Opa Shota

RF: What was his background?

Moni: He studied with Koizumi and Kawaishi, and they studied directly under Jigaro-Kano, the founder of judo in Japan- Kano's students spread Jujitsu and Judo throughout the world (including Brazil and Europe).

RF: Was the instruction classical, i.e. very strict, Japanese style?

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Moni: Yes, the techniques were practical but quite rigid with a strong emphasis on ground fighting and submissions!

RF: Did you also compete during this time?

Moni: I started to compete at around 12 years old, and did well.

RF: What were your favorite techniques?

Moni: Harai-Goshi & Uchimata but I always loved newaza (groundwork) since it is always clear who the winner is (through chokes and armlocks)

RF: When did you return to Israel?

Moni: About a year later, when I was 13 years old

RF: And did you continue with your judo, did you compete?

Moni: Yes, in fact I was Israel's national judo champ seven times!

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RF: You must have trained in Japan as well?

Moni: Yes I went several times

RF: What was your fondest memory of that period?

Moni: Training with two world champions (in Judo and sambo) Okano and Kashiwazaki

RF: Did you stay at their homes?

Moni: Yes, I was part of his special group, we trained everyday, and I also stayed with Kashiwazaki. Both of them were World Champions and Olympic Champions

RF: I trained in Japan as a child and teen but really hated it, the senior students come up to you and just beat the crap out of you - was that your experience too?

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Moni: That's what they do to every foreigner. First they try to hurt you, they try to break you down, then if you can endure the punishment and show real spirit, then they start to respect you; that's when they start to teach you.

RF: What kind of torture did they put you through?

Moni: For instance I had anywhere from 10-12 shiai's (competitions) in a row, against the best black belt fighters (without any rest between the fights) and these were really rough affairs.

RF: How did you make it through that punishment?

Moni: Mainly from my mental conditioning and my military experience, it was really tough, but in the end I was accepted by them

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RF: Once you were accepted, what was the training like?

Moni: It was really tough; it was one-on-one for 6-8 hours a day.

RF: Did you train any champions in your school in Israel?

Moni: Yes, many of my students were Israeli champions and one of my female students, Yael Arad, was the first Israeli to win medal at the Olympics in the history of Israel.

RF: What medals?

Moni: She won 2nd place (silver) in the Olympics and World Championships and first place in the European championships.

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RF: You must have been proud?

Moni: Extremely…

RF: Did you teach your students to be rigid like the Japanese or to be more flexible?

Moni: I've always taught my students to be flexible and to improvise on the spot. The goal I taught was always to survive. I'll tell you a story. One of my female students was hitchhiking from the military base one day and was picked up by a man in a car. He drove a bit, then slowed the car and parked on the side of the road. He suddenly started touching the girl, but she remained calm. She kissed him back, but suddenly grabbed his tongue with her teeth and dragged him to the main highway in this manner (which was 200 meters away) and turned him over to the police. Now this action was never taught to her specifically, what I did teach her was to stay calm and think, survive!

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RF: That sounds great. With so many champions coming out of your Tel Aviv school, you must have been using a special training regimen?

Moni: I have a masters degree in Sports Psychology from Tel Aviv University, and I've tried to implement many proven theories. In addition to demanding that my students be in top physical condition, I also try to help students develop their mental strength and spirit.

RF: Why spirit?

Moni: Well, most top competitors have similar techniques, they're all in top shape physically, but what really separates them is their spirit, their willingness to continue and not to give up.

RF: What was the impetus to move to Canada?

Moni: I moved to Canada in 1986 to spread my Israeli combat style: "Combat Survival" and my jujitsu skills in North America!

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RF: You ran a martial arts school there too didn't you?

Moni: Yes, it was the first mixed martial arts school in Canada; it was called The Samurai Club, I opened the club in 1986. In fact the mere concept that the club pioneered -- that of offering a total variety of martial arts each taught by experts was completely foreign to martial arts clubs, and now, every single club in the country has copied the formula without hesitation.

RF: What happened to the club?

Moni: I sold it in 1999

RF: What did you teach there?

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Moni: We offered programs in judo, jujitsu, Israeli Combat-Survival, kung fu, tai chi, aikido, yoga, taekwondo and kickboxing

RF: That sounds interesting, was cross-training allowed?

Moni: Yes, we had four huge areas and a workout gym. All students were allowed to take anything they wanted, but we also monitored the students, and if they had any special aptitude, we would help guide them along.

RF: You developed some no-hold-barred champions too during that time, yes?

Moni: Yes I did, and actually that came out of the system I just mentioned; but not only no-holds-barred, but also judo and jiujitsu champions!

RF: Who were your most notable students in Canada?

Moni: Well, the samurai club virtually dominated every judo and jujitsu competition, either provincial or national that we sent fighters to. The club literally came back with 18 Gold Medals from a provincial judo competition once. The reason jujitsu is as big as it is within Canada is primarily due to the samurai club's foundation of fighters (Joel Gerson, Mark Bocek, Carlos Newton, Omar Salvosa and many more)

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That's just to mention a few of my students! They were all considered the best grapplers in the country and all originally my students! Nobody was teaching ground-grappling and no-holds-barred fighting in Canada, especially at the level that I was teaching at the samurai club; my top students dominated The Canadian Jujitsu open Championship four years in a row!

RF: That's easy to believe since I'm familiar with your super tough program.

Moni: It is extremely tough, for example, out of the thousands of students I have taught in Canada, Joel Gerson has been the ONLY student that has managed to endure all the rigorous training with me from the beginning to the present day. In fact, Joel is the student that has come closest to mastering three major arts. That is of judo, jujitsu and Israeli martial arts. He is a 5-time Canadian jujitsu champion, and North American Fearless Fighting Champion. Joel is most well known for becoming the first person to defeat the formerly undefeated Shooto champion, Rumina Sato, by arm bar submission in the first round of his first ever no holds barred Shooto match in Tokyo.

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RF: Carlos was quite famous too

Moni: Yes, Carlos Newton, another student of mine, knew nothing about ground fighting and no-holds-barred when he came to my club as a teenager club. In the beginning, any girl could arm-lock him, but later, be became one of the most famous no-holds-barred fighters in the world. He won the UFC and the Shooto World Championship (against Eric Paulson) and Pride.

RF: What have you been doing since you sold your school?

Moni: I've been teaching Israeli Special Forces, and also teaching private lessons in Combat Survival and jujitsu.

RF: Will you open another school soon?

Moni: That's already in the works, scheduled for an opening date in September 1st 2004. It's in the Concord/Woodbridge area in Toronto. (400 & 407 highways interchange)

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RF: What's it called?

Moni: It's called EDGE COMBAT FITNESS. Joel Gerson (my top student) will be my partner and we'll have a website up sometime this summer.

RF: And what's the curriculum going to be like?

Moni: We will be the only school in Canada combining complete army conditioning and realistic street combat systems like: Combat-Survival, kapap, lotar, jujitsu, combat fitness, X-treme martial arts and more…

RF: Will you also be incorporating reality-based fighting methods into your training?

Moni: Yes, lots of drills and scenarios utilizing realistic techniques. I incorporate surprise attacks, training in the dark, multiple attacks, outdoor survival etc.

RF: Thank you for your time

Moni: Thank you…

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Note: Moni's school "Edge Combat Fitness" will be open in September 1,(Due to the high demand we will start a pre-registration process starting on August 1st) His website: www.edgecombatfitness.com is under construction and be up soon, to contact Moni you can Email to:edgecombatfitness@yahoo.com or call his new school at: (416)723-5222

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*Comments on Moni from his former student's

*Instructional Techniques from Moni