Sensei on the Road: GM Dennis Hanover the father of the Israeli Martial arts

Since my return from Israel I’ve been trying to edit the new Sensei on the Road column on an extraordinary life journey and achievements of the father of the Israeli Martial art GM Denis Hanover and could not find the right and enough of words to describe this outstanding person. Maybe I can start with his philosophy of life, which influenced both my work and my personal life. He said that education which is not based in moral and ethics doesn’t have any value and is worthless. During the Second World War and Holocaust Jewish people faced atrocity, which was orchestrated by very intelligent people who were psychologists and therapist with high university ranks, medical doctors, important lawyers, engineers and scientists. All those, at that time, top people have received great education and many of them were great thinkers who knew what will break people and how to break people. In one word they were the masters of TERROR –FEAR. They were experts in hiding the true and spreading false information in order to control the media.  Their misleading news and propaganda have facilitated the implementation of the biggest terror and horror in the world in form of the Holocaust.  We can say that their inttelligence and education didn’t serve the humanity but were against it and they will not be remembered for good deeds. 

GM Dennis Hanover is a champion with bare feet and no shoes, but with pure heart and spirit.  A shoes or bare feet that we can only wish we can walk in.   He has thought us about moral and values and how to give and receive respect based on the memory of anti-Semitism and how it should not be repeated ever again. He thought us how to be strong and proud Jews so we can teach our students in every country what is a love for the country of Israel. His devotion and devotion of his family  (sons Guy and Yaron and daughter Orlly) to serve the country, security forces and students never ceased and took place even during wars. He was an example of how to defend a home. Every year on Memorial Day he goes to the cemetery to show respect to the fallen students who gave their lives for Israel. He places a medal and a flag on their graves. He also takes his students for a visit to Holocaust survivals and Memorials so they can learn from the history.  

Dennis is a giving person. His life style is humble. Hi lives in his dojo where he also teaches. He wakes up every morning to feed 200 birds and 70 cats. He loves life and he is a big lover of animals. When we first arrived in the morning he was already siting outside in his garden and feeding birds and cats, which follow him for almost eighteen years such as Gingii the cat. His mornings continue with visitors who suffer from posttraumatic war experience and who come every morning for a short walk and talk and to give blessings to Dennis. This is how his days start. 

He has kids classes in his dojo and you can see can see how much love he invests in kids and how he educates them in the right spirit of a true warrior – to be kind and polite.  If some kids miss the class he gives them a call. He hugs and motivates those ones who feel discouraged and you can see how the kids’ energy change and how they wants to give the best and train hard. After kids class the one for the adults follows. All his students are successful adults with medical degrees; company owners and all of them sit in silence when Dennis talks. You can feel and see a big respect they have for him. Even though he is in 84 years old his eyes don’t miss a thing, He feels the energy of the class and students and behaves like a conductor of a symphonic orchestra. He is in control of any second of the class and takes care that the team is strong, that they hit and kick and throw with full power. And it is as same as a music piece. The class runs in harmony and no one gets injured.

 It amazes me how he loves his life in the dojo, how he enjoys teaching every day 365 days in a year. Dojo is his life and it is where his family and home is. It’s a place where he and his students celebrate important events. As we move to the backyard where tables and chairs are set for the party you can see how they live as one big family. S.D stepped in and since he is one of the highest ranks and also one of the top instructors in Israeli security force he explained how Denis was his teacher and second father. And not only to him but to all other Israeli top security personnel. They all own a lot to Denis and his classes, which are fundamental studies in their facilities. GM Dennis Hanover is a Pillar of Israeli Martial art and he is also a founder of Israeli Museum of Martial art. He has done so much for the community and the country. His dojo has sponsored more than 700 Bar Mitzvah for children who come from poor families. He takes care of children with special needs as well. We can say that he is the most important figure in the history of Israel and a true living legend that built judo federation, karate federation, competitions and world champions but mostly he is the one who built the spirit of Israeli martial art.  As an example, let us go back in time when Israeli karate team was denied of participation at the world Karate championship in Japan.  It was a poor decision made by Japanese Karate federation and Oyama sensei, which later on led to the establishment of Survival Hisardut Israeli Jiujutsu – an example to all Israeli Martial artist that we should not follow any system but make our own lines of defense.  

GM Dennis Hanover is a true living legend and very difficult to describe in such a short column because his life achievements and contributions are immense.  I recommend to everyone to travel to Israel and see it with his or her own eyes.  

Marketing and Martial art

A man once visited his friend, who was very wealthy, and noticed that he had an elephant in his yard. Stunned, he asked his friend “what are you doing with that elephant?”  “Oh him?” the wealthy man responded, “That’s the best deal I ever got! I initially got him as a pet, but turns out, he’s saved me so much money. He eats the grass, so I don’t need to hire anyone to mow. The kids can climb up and ride him and play all day and he’s so much fun to watch, I hardly even watch TV anymore. When my wife goes out shopping, she’s so happy because he can carry all the groceries no problem.” 

“Wow, that’s amazing” responds the friend, “you need to sell him to me, please!” “No way that I can sell him, he’s part of the family now.” “Please…” begged his friend. After a while thinking about it, the wealthy friend finally responded, “Alright, alright… I can sell him, but I’ll need $300,000.” His friend enthusiastically agreed and took the elephant home that very day. 

After a few weeks, the two met again and the wealthy man asked, “How is everything going with the new elephant?” His friend, despondent, responded, “Horrible. My wife and kids are scared of him and he knocked over all the trees in my yard and trampled the garden. It was a huge mistake to buy him from you.” The wealthy man replied, “Well, with that attitude, you’ll never be able to sell him.”

Marketing and sales are essential nowadays, especially in Martial Arts.

It reminds me of a story about a guy name Eyal who moved into a village and decided to buy a donkey. Since he was a city boy, they sold him an old donkey which died the moment he brought it home. He then posted a raffle, for just one dollar you can have a chance to win a donkey. People in the town flocked to purchase tickets and he made thousands; way more than he initially paid for the donkey. When the winner came to claim his prize, he found a dead donkey and complained to Eyal, to which he replied, “You’re right, it’s not fair. Here’s a full refund on your purchase”, to which he returned the winner’s 1 dollar.  

People with a talent for sales and marketing can be found in all fields, dead donkey dealers are now using the internet to extend their reach and finding victims who are happy to buy in to something that has no substance behind it, but that has a good appearance. Don’t be a victim. 

I’ve been asked a lot lately about Israeli Martial Arts ads and what is it that makes them so popular. My answer is that they have great marketing and there’s low demand from students and instructors to become masters. I’ve seen instructors who have yellow belts in Karate and all of a sudden, they are listed as experts in Krav Maga and are Mossad secret service who can’t post on Facebook because they are undercover secret agents without having been a soldier for a single day. They teach Police forces never having served as a Police officer or functioning in any law enforcement capacity. In Israel there are so many Martial Artists who have their Doctorate degree, yet when the news contacts them to ask what university they received their degree from, they suddenly can’t remember and curiously, they never received a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree either. In order to cut down on the corruption, the Israeli government no longer recognizes PhD degrees unless it has been certified, which many of these fake degree holders will never do, lest they be exposed. Yet still they promote themselves using this degree outside of Israel and dozens of people fall for this. 

New Israeli Federations that you send money to and they promote you to blackbelt or give you instructor of the year and any other title is a great marketing strategy, but I refuse to be a part of this. Maybe it’s bad marketing on my part, but I’ve dedicated more than 50 years of my life to Martial Arts, traveled the world and studied under real masters, not through YouTube or TikTok. It’s unfortunate, but everyday people are unable to distinguish between effective martial arts and snake oil salesman. 

It reminds me of a story of a Native American selling handmade pots. There were two pots side by side and a European was comparing the two, as they appeared the same size, but one was selling for 5 dollars and the other was selling for 10. The European inspected the pattern, the interior, the quality of the material and the more he inspected, the more he realized they were identical. He asked the Native American, “what’s the difference between these pots to justify the cost difference? They appear to be identical to me.” The Native American responded, “some like to pay 5 dollars, some like to pay 10.” 

Very often people tie a value to a product based on what they paid for it, which very often it’s easy to see the difference in quality between a more inexpensive product and a costly one. However, in Martial Arts, it’s often very difficult for the common person to distinguish an expert instructor who has dedicated their life to Martial Arts and a snake oil salesman who got a few certifications and belongs to a federation. They attribute a false correlation between marketing and actual substance. As students of Martial Arts, we need to ensure that we are careful with whom we associate and verify that an instructor or school is really able to help us achieve our goals. 

Conversely, as instructors when dealing with external federations and organizations, each of us needs look in the mirror and decide whether we began this journey for the love of martial arts or to try and gain profit as a salesman, potentially selling our integrity for a short term bump in marketing. As the stoic Epictetus once said, “Consider at what price you sell your integrity; but please, for God’s sake, don’t sell it cheap.” While marketing is important to spread the word and make a name for yourself, understand to what lengths you are going and who you choose to associate with. Focus on the substance of your Martial Arts, not what empty titles you can get and never, never compromise your integrity in the pursuit of marketing. 

The Way To Win In A Battle

“The way to win in a battle according to military science is to know the rhythms
of the specific opponents, and use rhythms that your opponents do not expect.”
—Miyamoto Musashi 

What does it mean to pierce an opponent’s OODA (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) loop?

We reach the answer through the generational experience of the western professionals who revolved through the OODA loop swifter than their adversaries in theory, but have they done so in practice?

Does this stand the test of history? Would it not mean that the fastest opponent would always prevail? There are factors beyond speed such as agility and breadth of thought as displayed in General MacArthur’s haste push of the X corps into Korea which ended up pulling the Chinese into the conflict resulting in numerous defeats during the end of 1950.

Swift movement is but execution. The process of choosing the action and tactic is of equal importance as defeats of forceful swift actions as enacted by General Lee  in Gettysburg. Gunslingers know it is not the fastest draw but the righteous aim who wins the day. 


Colonel John Boyd, an innovative aviator of the US air force, developed an iterative feedback model, what is now known as the OODA loop, discerned from his days dogfighting in the Korean War. It has seen use in both military and civilian trades and is also used to hone athlete’s responses and decisions alike.

The process holds constant revolution between the following stages:

Observation, which leads a participant 

Orienton possible options,

Decideon an appropriate course of action

Acton that decision. 

People tend to overlook observation. The evolving and myriad skill to be aware and discerning of constantly changing environments. All stages of the OODA look are intertwined as the changing sensory input and mental picture alter our perception of the previous moment. Fluidity in decision making is a skill emerging from all phases blended.


A vital stage in understanding the OODA Loop is to look at it through the lens of the scientific method. In this perspective, decisions are hypotheses, and actions are essentially the process of testing selected hypotheses. If the quality of the information is imperfect, or if one’s orientation to the resultant knowledge is flawed, then speed may not be useful; it will only hasten an inappropriate decision or action. 

In other words, faster might not be better. Like a dancer who loses their balance, the solution is not to go quicker, but rather to stop, recover, and get back in tempo. The same applies to the OODA Loop. To employ it effectively, a participant must understand timing as well as the broader concept of rhythm.


Tempo has been defined by many from official publications to renowned martial artists. One of them was Bruce Lee whose definition of tempo as “that little fragment of time which is the most suitable to accomplish effective actions.” In this definition, successful combatants sync their speed, so their actions coincide with those of their opponent’s, with the goal being to be able to act at “the exact psychological and physical crux of weakness in an opponent.” This specific rhythm in which movements are executed could be called cadence, and to apply this concept, it helps to look at combat through the idea of beats.

 Beats are commonly found in the arts, such as meter in poetry or the time signature of music. More broadly, a beat could be considered as any action or moment of change. They are present in fights as well. Consider the one-two combo in boxing, a simple count that integrates rhythm into a punching drill. In such a combo, the one count is a jab with the lead hand, while the two count is a back hand cross. The drill can be made more complicated, with threes, fours, fives, and sixes added in to represent hooks and uppercuts on both sides, but, whatever their number, the punches are the beats.

A ballet instructor counts in  “one-and-two-and-three-and-four.” To represent the space between each beat which enacts the same rhythm of the punching combo. We are most vulnerable in between each beat when we calibrate and when balance and tempo can be shattered..


The goal of each fighter is to sever other’s OODA loop. Have them miss a beat. Speed is just one factor here. The psyche’s capacity to recognize opportunities assessing fluid scenarios and as Bruce Lee wrote  speed in delivering a stroke will lose most of its effectiveness unless the stroke is properly timed.”

In practice, it takes more than speed as at a certain point this approach becomes divorced from one’s opponent and their actions. Instead, decisions and actions should ideally happen in a way which sets up the opponent and makes them vulnerable to having their rhythm disrupted.

Bruce Lee identified two traditional methods by which a fighter could use their cadence to accomplish this setup, the first was to adopt slower than normal actions in the lead up to a decisive attack. In this application, after an opponent has adapted to our cadence, they are vulnerable to sudden accelerations in our actions. Alternatively, the lead up could be at a normal or quicker than normal speed, setting up a final attack at a slower cadence. This strategy effectively forces the adversary to commit to an action, allowing a combatant to watch the reaction and strike once the adversary is misaligned. Bruce Lee labeled these methods as “striking on the half-beat.”

Military application of the OODA will have greater complexity; however, the principles remain the same. Advantage is met not by cycling through the process as rapidly as possible as this approach supports dissociation of one’s own decision-making process from that of one’s opponent. Instead, the OODA Loop should be used to identify those little brackets in time when the opponent is most vulnerable to having their rhythm broken to enact their disruption of rhythm. In other words, the OODA’s loop is maximized when it is used to identify and exploit the opponent’s half-beat. Of note, this is consistent with Boyd’s own emphasis on the importance of the orientation stage of the OODA loop.

A recent practical example of this strategy was the September 2019 drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, which briefly wiped out half of Saudi Aramco’s production capacity. In this case, the timing of the attacks may have been more important than the physical effects, since they occurred in the lead-up to Aramco’s initial public offering.[ What’s more, the longer term impact of the attacks may have contributed to reduced investor interest and an Aramco valuation that did not meet its initially intended target.[ At the very least, the attacks succeeded in compelling Saudi Arabia to focus on restoring its production capacity, in effect breaking their rhythm and forcing them to stop, recover, and get back on time In addition, Iran, widely believed to be responsible for the drone strikes, found increased influence with the Houthis in the aftermath of the attack, which was precisely what the Saudis had been hoping to prevent by entering the Yemen War. The timing of the attack, then, could be argued to have benefitted both the Houthis and Iran by catching the Saudis on a half-beat.


Boyd’s OODA Loop has long been held up as a means to reduce reaction time and enable quicker and more streamlined decision-making. While greater speed is clearly an advantage in combat, viewing the OODA Loop through the lens of faster is betterover-simplifies the model, and prevents combatants from realizing the full potential of this decision-making framework. By understanding that speed and timing are complementary, the potential of the OODA Loop can be maximized by focusing it to recognize these moments when an opponent is at the apex of vulnerability, and providing options to exploit those openings at the most opportune time.