The cars precipitate towards the intersection, an avalanche of steel, horns blaring, lights changing, the asphalt sliding underneath like a river of concrete, unyielding, relentless, deadly.
He sees the traffic. He has a split second to react. He dives in. Cars to his left and to his right, the space closing. But there are no thoughts of failure. There’s only determination. There’s only the open road, the quickening of the heart, the straining of the muscles and then the release, the moment of freedom as he makes the crossing unharmed.
The mind goes back and settles, as if nothing had happened, as if death had not been taunted. Just like that, it’s ready to continue, waiting for the next moment.
I asked Krav Maga Master James Sherman what was it that inspired him to compete, to push himself beyond the limits of human endurance.
“When I was a little boy, probably 4 years old, I saw the Steelers playing football on TV and was mesmerized. I was always super active, running around, climbing and tumbling, and my parents got me into lots of sports.”
“Had my own set of barbells and dumbbells when I was 10, and knew how to hunt, fish, snowmobile, motorcycle, ski, swim, and rock climb.”
To this day he can average ten miles, rollerblading through the streets of Manhattan, every day.
It was always in him, this desire to be the best, this need to excel. It’s what drove him to choose Krav Maga above all other martial arts. He’s been studying it for 8 years.
Krav Maga was developed by Imrich (Imi) Lichtenfeld in the mid 1930’s. It combines techniques from boxing, Muay Thai, Wing Chun, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and grappling.
Lichtenfeld was born in Budapest in 1910 and had been involved in all kinds of sports from an early age including gymnastics, wrestling and boxing. (Sound familiar?) He took the Slovakian Youth Wrestling Championship in 1928, the adult in 29. He was also a gymnastics and boxing champion.
When anti-Semitic riots started in Bratislava, Imi and a group of Jewish boxers and wrestlers took to the streets to defend their neighborhood. In those streets, Krav Maga was born.
Imi realized that sports fighting and street fighting are two very different things. That’s why Krav Maga specializes on tactical, practical maneuvers.
In 44 Lichtenfeld began training Israeli special forces in knife fighting, swimming, wrestling and physical fitness. When the State of Israel was founded in 1948, Lichtenfeld became Chief Instructor for Physical Fitness and Krav Maga for the Israeli Defense Forces.
The IDF still trains in Krav Maga today.
A lifelong competitive athlete, James Sherman knew he wanted a fighting style that could epitomize his do-or-die philosophy. He met his martial arts match in 2005.
“I was at the David Barton Gym, a book signing was in the lobby. I stopped by and saw a super cool book, Israeli Krav Maga the close quarters combat system of the Israeli Special Forces, the author was there and he happened to be the Chief U.S. Instructor for the Israeli Krav Maga Association. He recruited me to train with him and I jumped at the chance.”
It was Krav Maga’s emphasis on physical fitness and its directness that appealed to Sherman. It was the fact that you have to get into the heart of danger in order to neutralize it.
“By taking an active role, you can immediately change the psychology of the attacker.”
In 2007 James was invited to go to Israel to train with the most elite close quarters combat instructors. They made him their representative for New York.
Here he is demonstrating a knife defense:
Sherman continues to train to this day. He’s been five-times certified in Israel by Haim Gidon, Chairman of the Israeli Krav Maga Association and by Itay Gil, General Director of Intelligence, Counter Terrorism & Homeland Security for Magid Hebrew University.
James has combined his Krav Maga expertise and diverse fitness background to create The 10 Minute Health & Wellness System to help clients get into the best shape of their lives. He’s had celebrity clients such as John Mayer and David Blaine.
“I believe in freedom, freedom to do business, freedom to practice whatever religion you want to practice, freedom to love who you want to love, and I support the defense of those freedoms.”
Out of his thirst for competition, combined with a martial art born in the streets, James Sherman has crafted a life less ordinary, a life of action, a life of legend.
*For more information on James Sherman and Krav Maga, go to www.rjvnation.com