NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new version of martial arts is being taught to and practiced by Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn.
CBS2’s Scott Rapoport talked to a man who has been called the “most dangerous Jew in NYC” — Although you wouldn’t know it by looking at him.
Former NYC probation officers and Washington Heights native Steve Isaak, 67, has developed a personalized style of martial arts called Shima Juijitsu.
He’s been teaching it for more than 40 years to a devoted following of the city’s most observant, Orthodox Jews, in a Brighton Beach studio. Part of his mission is for it to be self-defense from anti-Semitism.
“Everyone need self-defense but they need it more than most, based on the history of Jewish people,” Isaak said.
His students come in all shapes, sizes, ages and sexes.
There are women, too, who want to learn to defend themselves — like Chavi Charlap.
And what does she get from the class?
“I get confidence,” Charlap replied.
Because they are Orthodox, the women train separately from the men. And though touching is traditionally verboten, some of his female students permit it during training, saying Isaak’s classes are conducted with respect to their Orthodox values.
“If I’m in a life threatening situation and because of this I can save my life and other lives then it’s definitely worth it,” Charlap said.
Isaak turned to martial arts as a young, 12-year-old boy after he says he was beaten up by two older kids.
By the time he got to college, he was teaching self-defense. He opened his own martial arts school shortly after that.
Isaak says the secret and power of Shima Juijitsu is that you don’t have to be athletic or powerful. That it is based on efficiency, not strength, Rapoport reported.
The cerebral Sensai says he teaches his students a series of moves that can deflect and derail an attacker.
His student Rabbi David Goldshyn with the Jewish Center Of Brighton Beach says it’s effective and necessary.
“You don’t want to get into a fight every two seconds,” Goldshyn said. “But you also want to have the confidence that if something happens you can protect yourself.”
Through the years, Isaak says he’s taught Shima Juijitsu to cops, prosecutors, judges and even some in Israel’s defense forces.
Isaak says he now lives in Myrtle Beach, but comes back to Brighton Beach every two weeks for 5 days at a time to teach his Orthodox students. He says his students demand it.