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January 14, 2014 5:35 pm
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Rabbi Enters Mixed Martial Arts Competition to Promote Security and Fitness

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Chabad Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, 22, winning his first amateur MMA bout. Photo: Screenshot / Fox News.

Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, 22, winning his first amateur MMA bout. Photo: Screenshot / Fox News.

California based Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, 22, recently won his first amateur Mixed Martial Arts bout, San Diego’s Fox News reported on Tuesday.

His aim in entering the competition was to promote the importance of security and fitness in the Orthodox Jewish community, Eilfort told The Algemeiner. The rabbi said he had previously never hit anyone in his life.

Although not new to martial arts — 12 years ago the young rabbi befriended a Krav Maga instructor — he entered his first “octagon” just six months ago via MMA fighter and judo specialist Thierry Sokoudjou, of Cameroon who trained him at Team Quest Gym, in Encinitas.

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Eilfort told Fox News that he wanted the “physical, mental, personal challenge” of MMA, not to hurt people. Of his philosophy, Eilfort said, “I believe if we’re not challenging ourselves, than we’re wasting time.”

His coach said, “I never thought that a rabbi would be interested in fighting. But I was stoked. He never quits.”

Eilfort trained nearly every day while balancing his synagogue duties, Fox News reported. He even trained on Friday mornings, but had to forego a last round of preparation before his big match to observe the Shabbat.

The bout was at Mansion Fights, in a historic North Hollywood house, where he said his trainer joked about dubbing him “The Rabbi” on the fight bill. Ominously, Fox News said, before entering the octagon, he watched as a previous fighter was wheeled out on a gurney.

Some 20 friends, family and members of his congregation came to watch Eilfort swiftly take down his opponent, winning in the second round by technical knockout, or TKO.

“It was very uncomfortable hitting someone,” Eilfort told Fox News. “I actually held back…”

The young athlete told The Algemeiner that his dream is to become a police chaplain, and that he wants to give security and safety seminars to religious students.

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  • Congrats for your achievement. Well done.

  • Mazel tov on your achievements and wishing you hatzlacha rabba in all your endeavors. We are proud of you.

  • David Benveniste (HaLevy)

    My father was semi pro and had 52 fights,and went 51-1,and was friends with world champions Max Baer and Primo Carnera. It’s a dirty business,not to mention cauliflower ears,broken noses,fixed fights and potential head injuries .It’s an industry, a meat grinder.

  • Military training and ability to defend oneself and one’s family/community is part of our heritage that many have lost. Kol hakavod that Rabbi E. is reclaiming this.

  • Josh

    “I actually held back…” That not a good sign for long term future in fighting.

    • Velvel

      He’s holding back because this is not a fight for his safety. There is no doubt that in a fight for his safety he’d fight as hard and strong as he would need until the attacker stopped fighting.
      It shows his character that he doesn’t sensuously beat another man to pul when there is no need.

      • Velvel

        sensouolsy is a typo, it should say senselessly

    • Mitchell Baxter

      Yes, but he’s not looking for a future in fighting.

  • Yossi

    Go Yossi!

  • Well done.

  • Margarita

    Well done

  • Very good. Kol haKavod. Unfortunately most people in Charedi communities are unaware of importance of physical exercise as well as of importance of knowinghow do defend themselves believing in some non Jewish beliefs that you “Hashem will protect you ” without any actions on your part.

  • I think it’s a great idea that a Rabbi sets an example.

  • Gershon Lehrer

    What is a ‘Rabbi’?

  • Rabbi Fishel Jacobs

    B”H

    MMA is first a discipline. It’s not unlike any other so called ‘combat sport’ disciplines in terms of goals. Specifically, confidence, focus going beyond limitations.

    People have many needs for hobbies. They can include music, art, hiking, reading. Sports, particularly ‘combat’ ones aren’t for everyone. For those who feel they need that, however, there’s no problem. They’re nothing more than a discipline.

  • judorebbe

    Sorry to inform you, friends, it’s not about money, or ego, or proving himself. It is about Jewish kids seeing Rabbi Eilfort as a role model. It is about Jewish kids learning to successfully handle themselves when necessary.
    I grew up as a “Zhydovka” (f—ing Jew in Ukranian) in a tough, mean, anti Semitic neighborhood. Those few Jewish kids who could successfully fight back were rarely victimized, wile those who tried to run away from the Jew haters were continually victimized.
    In high school (1960s) and college (1970s), as a member of the wresting team, I was rarely “picked on”, even though I was always in the lightest weight classes … because I could fight back when necessary.
    My sincere best wishes to Rabbi Eilfort in his journey to send a positive message to Jewish kids.

    0

  • Barry Kahn

    Congrats to the Rabbi! Competitive Martial Arts is primarily a chess game. Additionally, a player must have the physical ability to complete the moves he/she wants to make. Admittedly, there is more contact in MMA than most other sports, but please remember it is just that, a sport. I believe he can be a role model to others in his community who wish to train in martial arts. It is lamentable that some “knockout game” victims of Crown Heights did not have any training.

  • Dov

    Maybe he should teach Jews how to protect themselves from the knockout games?

    • Yossi

      Go Yossi! Keep up the good work.

  • Irving D. Cohen

    It seems ridiculous for him to prove something to himself, but it would seem less so if he were to be suggesting physical training to young Jews to enable them to protect themselves succssfully against the spreading violent antisemitism.

  • sechel

    Exactly. He talks about proving himself – is there no other way? Or is this all okay because there’s money involved? Does the money magically make it okay? Is there betting involved? What is wrong with this Chabad rabbi and rebbetzin that they missed what every other Jewish parent on the planet knows – this is not a worthy endeavor.

    • Velvel

      Yossi was misquoted when he said “Proving himself”. The message he is trying to get across is not that he can beat someone up. What he is trying to prove is that a normal decent human being can partake in sports such as MMA and remain a decent person. That is why you will notice Yossi doesn’t go full out and beat the opponent to a pulp. That is why he is pulling punches. Theres no need to beat a person up in an arena like this.

  • Better ask a Rabbi if intentional hurting and getting hurt is permissable. I dont think so. No matter how much fun and macho it is.

    • BuckDePublick

      Stop the victim mentality, loser. Any time a Jew knows how to use his (or her) fists and a gun, it’s a good thing!

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