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Abir-Qesheth Hebrew Warrior Arts

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Abir-Qesheth Hebrew Warrior Arts (Hebrew: אַבִּיר‎)
Abir logo.jpg
Israel Abir Association Logo
4 whipa.jpg
Ya`aqov Moshe (left) demonstrating an arm bar take down on his son, the Aluf Abir Yehoshua Sofer (right)
Also known as Abir
Country of origin Israel Israel
Parenthood Ancient Israelite Warriors
Olympic sport Not voted in 2005 (for 2012) or in 2009 (for 2016)

Abir-Qesheth Hebrew Warrior Arts, (Hebrew: אַבִּיר‎) [1] is a the name of the fighting technique taught by Yehoshua Sofer in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Sofer has a family tradition of the Abir Warrior Arts, which he and other Yemenite elders say were used by ancient Israelite warriors.[2]

It is a recognized martial art in Israel,[3] that has an unbroken tradition from its roots as a fighting system of the warriors of ancient Israel.[4]



Yehoshua Sofer (Ma`atuf-DoH) ) is an hasidic Jew.[5] Born into a Jewish Yemenite Breslover family, his family moved to Los Angeles, where, outside his Abir training at home, began studying foreign martial arts, such as Tang Soo Do, a Korean version of Karate, under Chuck Norris [6] In the 1970s and 1980s, he worked as a bodyguard and a sparring partner for kickboxers. And in 1989, he moved to Israel and became the regional director and sole representative of Kuk Sool Won in Israel.[7]

Bani Abir: Sofer family

Sayeed, Salaah, and Saadia Sofer, Habbani Jewish bodyguards for Abdullah I of Jordan c. 1922.

According to Sofer:

My family lived in Israel for 100 generations, since the time of Saraya Sofer—a royal scribe and warrior who served the kingdom of Israel. Both ancient Israelite writing and martial arts traditions, were handed down in my family from generation to generation.[8]

The Sofer family has a tradition that, following the wars of Bar Kokhba, their ancestors lived in Piq'in near Tiberias for one thousand years, and at the time of the Crusades, moved to Hevron, where they lived for another one thousand years, some of them moving back and forth between Israel and Yemen all the while.

Members of the Sofer family moved between Jerusalem and Habban in eastern Aden to cities such as Al Baidha. "Baidha" means "white" in Arabic. While in Israel, Nachman Sofer and his youngest son, Ya`aqov Mosha [Awad bin Brihim, in Yemenite Arabic], Sofer's father, left the region for Jamaica following the Chevron (Hebron) massacres of 1929. From there they would move to the United States and later back to Israel. Nachman Sofer is remembered by the Habbani community by his Yemenite Arabic appellage, Brihim bin Hassan Ma`atuf-DoH: the noted religious leader and representative of the Yemenite Jewry to the King of Yemen. His leadership and genius are noted in Yahaduth Habban (HaSarmoweth) ba-Doroth ha-Aharonim [9] a historical work on the Habbani community under the auspices of Bar Ilan University.

Aluf Abir

Yehoshua Sofer is the current Aluf Abir (Hebrew for Grandmaster of Abir). His training in his family's fighting techniques began when he was a child and he has had more than 45 years of training in physical conditioning and hand to hand combat. According to the Sofer/Ma`atuf-DoH family tradition, their Abir techniques were derived from an ancient Habbani Jewish warrior tradition.[10]

According to research conducted by an Abir historian, the military prowess of the Habbanis is known to a some elder Baladi (non-Habbani) Yemenite Jews as well, as being owed to the Habbanis' letter-based warrior art, a remnant of the fighting arts of the ancient Israelites.[11]

According to a spokesman for Abir Warrior Arts:

The young Sofer only trained in foreign combat by command of his father, against his desire. At home, he was groomed and trained in the art of his ancestors from the age of three, and he longed to practice Abir only and make it known. His grandfather, the previous Aluf Abir Nachman Sofer, personal bodyguard to Lawrence of Arabia and the British brass in Hadramawt), played with the young scion of the Sofer dynasty from the age of three, indoctrinating him through games based on the Sofer family tradition of Chevron and Hejaz Abir. This training included the use of Shootnah, Karkour, Paziza, Heavkuth, Kunfoon, Keshet, Herev Rahav (Middle Eastern Broad Sword), slingshot, javelin, Nabuta, Maagal and the Maaraf. Yet his father and grandfather forbade him to reveal the art until he would become at least Dan 7 in one other fighting form, become recognized as expert in several other diverse forms, and reach the age of forty. They did so, despite the fact they considered foreign martial arts to be forbidden to Jews (and in many cases to non-Jews as well). As immigrants to the United States, theirs was the first generation ever to see centuries-old national fighting traditions of different peoples available to the masses to choose from and learn. For the Abir tradition to survive, it would need to contend with these competitors. They therefore ensured that the next torch bearer would be able to adapt the art to the modern world, much like the Hebrew language was adapted to fit the needs of the modern era. [6] See also.[6]

Origin of the name

Abir is a Hebrew word meaning powerful, a warlord, palace guard, protector of royalty, warrior, bodyguard, or a defender. It is derived from the three letter Hebrew root א-ב-ר, which means to soar above protectively.[12]

Religious concepts

Sofer's Abir martial art form is based on fighting techniques that he learned from his grandfather and father. The history of these techniques is that at one time ancient Israel had fighting techniques, which was both hand to hand and also weaponized in nature. It is believed that while most Jewish communities did not continue to train in Abir, some exotic Jewish communities in Arabia and in parts of Asia were able to maintain elements of the techniques.

According to the Abir web-site:

The Twelve Tribes Principles and The Ten Emanations (These are very esoteric and intricate educational tools to understand the nature of combined movement and force in an application of the other principles directed into specific points of energy, mass or “targets” as well as the use of telepathy and hypnosis to direct or disable one's adversary)

This science as described in great depth in sources found throughout The Holy Torah are taught to “performers” of Abir, who regardless of their background in Jewish study and Torah Life, commitment/observance (or the lack of these) can begin training in this dance form that houses a deadly form…or formless system of self defense that is as effective today as it was in defeating the ancient military forces of Median, Ai, Eglon, Lah’ish, Canaanim, Khittim, Amorim, Prizim, Yebusim and Girgashim.[13]

Techniques and principles

Abir's movements are based on elements of Judaic principles and symbolic elements. The Abir approach is made up of a combination of the following elements.

  • Judaic symbols
  • The Ancient Hebrew and Modern Hebrew alphabets.
  • Techniques passed down by Jewish communities such as the Habbani Jews.
  • Jewish dances from various exotic or ancient communities, which are believed to have been a part of an ancient Abir combat system.

Many of these techniques derive from the Biblical 12 tribes of Israel.

  • The Tribe of Shimon - The symbol for these movements is a sword. Motions relating to Shimon are characterized by slashing motions along a wide or narrow circular axis with the "blades" of the hands or feet.
  • The Tribe of Asher - The symbol for these movements is a tree. Movement of one part of the body must include a cooperative or supportive movement by the remainder of the whole body.[14]
  • The Tribe of Reuven - The symbol for these movements is a flower. The waving and twisting motion of the torso like a flower is essential in massaging the internal organs. Reuven training is a relaxing low-impact form of exercise and training activates the limbs subliminally by virtue of the motion of the hips and torso (the shaft or stem of the flower).[15]
  • The Tribe of Gad - The symbol for these movements is the tent. Movements are based on balancing one leg while the other leg is free to rotate along a circumference allowing the practitioner to position themselves at any point along 360 degrees.
  • The Tribe of Zevulon - The symbol for this movement is a ship in the water. Movements are based on retaining balance and footing. Made up of swift forward motions without hesitation.[16]
  • The Tribe of Yoseph - The symbol for these movements is the bull. Uses power to drive through an opponent by utilizing bodyweight to knock them over with a quick burst of external power. Also entails the use two hands like a bulls horns to deter attacks and to strike an opponent's defenses out of the way for subsequent attacks.[17]
  • The Tribe of Naftali - The symbol for these movements is the deer. Techniques based on speed, spring like moves, and not making unnecessary movements.[18]
  • The Tribe of Dan - The symbol for these movements is a snake. Made up of controlled flurries of arm strikes as well as open hand strikes.[19]
  • The Tribe of Yissachar - The symbol for these movements is the donkey. Utilizes back kicks, throws, and absorption of blows.[20]
  • The Tribe of Benyamin - The symbol for these movements is the wolf. This particular set of techniques involve a philosophy of attack that disables an opponent's weak areas such as eyes using fast or soft motions.[21]
  • The Tribe of Yehudah - The symbol for these movements is the lion. Movements in this form are swift powerful lunging stabs, slaps, palm heel strikes, elbows, knees, shoving, and shoulder strikes.[22]
  • The Tribe of Levi - The symbol for these techniques is the Hoshen (The Priestly Breastplate). This represents taking the total amount of Abir techniques and putting them together in needed sequences and using the techniques to adapt to a differences in the opponent's techniques.[23]

Seven categories of alphabetical attacks

The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 consonants and five word ending letters bringing them to a total of 27 letters. In Abir the Hebrew letters, both ancient and modern, are used to assign movements into 7 special categories of choking, locking, throwing, take downs, primary initiated attacks, secondary responsive attacks, and combinations of the first six categories.

This is believed to help the student, who is familiar with Judaic symbols, with a unique and familiar way to quickly assimilate complex combat techniques using familiar visual memory tools. These techniques are then studied in conjunction with additional techniques that are designed to solve the most commonly encountered types of attacks with effective counters.[24]

Recoil principle

This Abir concept maintains that every action of a limb returns toward the torso with greater speed and the least amount of stress. This is done in direct opposition to the same limbs energy employed to launch an attack directed away from the torso. Recoil attacks are the preferred choice of attack in Abir, and are used as stealth strikes to the indefensible anterior zone at the opponent’s hind or blindside while the defender is positioned directly in front.[25]

Haetz-Lula’ah (Arrow-loop)

The Haetz-Lula'ah techniques use full-circle striking with the arms or legs. Use of the arms or legs as the striking surface is not limited to a specific area of the hands or feet but employs any surface from the fingers/toes to the elbow/knee at any angle along its circumference. A strike can be initiated at with the fingers pressing into the opponents liver while striking. The Abir practitioner can then press consistently deeper and then move into a driving lateral elbow strike across the gallbladder and pericardium to the spleen points in one circular scooping motion.

This attack, which is executed with the right arm, can be initiated at a chosen striking point with an elbow at the opponent’s kidney or liver. When this technique is launched as a frontal attack vertical or horizontal and can be applied in a broad or narrow circle motion as opposed to the classical front kick. Further, the ball of the foot, instep, inner or outer blades of the feet, ankle, shins or knee are all satisfactory striking surfaces as are the back, sides, and bottom of the heel.[26]

18 Khai Rikudim

Abir also employs 18 choreographed fighting dances that tie together movements associated with the 12 Tribes of Israel. There are 12 weaponless and 6 weapon forms based on these group of techniques.[27]

Abir/Qesheth associations and recognitions

Wingate College of Sport Sciences, which was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in 1989 by the President of the State of Israel [28] recognizes Abir/Qesheth Hebrew Warrior Arts. [29] In August 2008, the Wingate College produced an initial class of 15 certified Abir/Qesheth instructors, trained by Yehoshua Sofer. Several noted Israeli rabbis, including the late Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri (as affirmed by a document by Rabbi David Kaduri), Rabbi Naftali Moscowitz (the Melitzer Rebbe) and Rabbi Avraham Yerachmiel Rabinowitz (the Ostrova-Biale Rebbe), have recognized Abir as an ancient and authentic Jewish tradition, and as a kosher alternative to the study of foreign martial arts.

Rabbi Lazer Brody, Rosh Kollel of "Chut Shel Chessed - Breslev" Yeshiva [30] states that Abir goes back to the time of Moses and that Yehoshua Sofer's family preserved an unbroken chain of Abir since the destruction of the second Temple nearly 2000 years ago. [31]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Abir Warrior Arts website main page
  3. ^ Wingated Institute; Instructors Course for Abir/Qesheth
  4. ^ http://lazerbrody.typepad.com/lazer_beams/2006/11/king_david_kill.html
  5. ^ [http://www.jewishdayton.org/page.html?ArticleID=165740 Judaism and martial arts
  6. ^ a b [Rubinsky, Ariel (June 25, 2006). "We-Lanu Yesh 'Abir' Omanuth LeHimah Kesherah LeMehadrin". Fighter Magazine, p.25.]
  7. ^ Certification as an Instructor of Kook Sool Won in Israel
  8. ^ Hip-Hop Conquers Israel, By Loolwa Khazzoom, April 2005 Vol. 86 No. 8
  9. ^ [Ma`atuf, Sa`adia bin YiS’Haq,[translation:] [[Habbani Jewry [of Hatzarmavet] in the Last Generations]], published by the Ma`atuf family under the auspices of the local municipality of Bareqeth and greater municipality of Ben Shemen, 1987, 223pp., page 80.]
  10. ^ Abir and I, by Rabbi Michael Bar-Ron, Torath Moshe Web-site
  11. ^ A Living Memory of the Bravery & Might of the Habbani Warriors Continues among Baladi Yemenite Jews, Words of Rav Yoseph Maghori-Kohen, Recorded by Rabbi Michael Bar-Ron [2]
  12. ^ Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew-Based on the Commentaries of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, by Matityahu Clark, Feldhem Publishers, Jerusalem, 1999, page 2.
  13. ^ Definition of Abir, Abir Warrior Arts Web-Site
  14. ^ "More Information About Abir: Shimon and Asher, Abir Warrior Arts web-site, [3]
  15. ^ "More Information About Abir: Reuven, Abir Warrior Arts web-site
  16. ^ "More Information About Abir: Gad and Zevulun, Abir Warrior Arts web-site, [4]
  17. ^ "More Information About Abir: Yoseph, Abir Warrior Arts web-site
  18. ^ "More Information About Abir: Naftali, Abir Warrior Arts web-site
  19. ^ "More Information About Abir: Dan, Abir Warrior Arts web-site
  20. ^ "More Information About Abir: Reuven, Abir Warrior Arts web-site
  21. ^ "More Information About Abir: Issachar, Abir Warrior Arts web-site
  22. ^ "More Information About Abir: Yehudah, Abir Warrior Arts web-site
  23. ^ "More Information About Abir: Levi, Abir Warrior Arts web-site
  24. ^ Abir FAQ, Page 10
  25. ^ Abir FAQ, Page 8
  26. ^ Abir FAQ, Page 9
  27. ^ Abir FAQ, Pages 8-11
  28. ^ http://www.wingate.org.il/Index.asp?CategoryID=478&ArticleID=661
  29. ^ Letter of Recognition of Abir/Qesheth, Wingate College of Sport Sciences [5]
  30. ^ http://lazerbrody.typepad.com/about.html
  31. ^ http://lazerbrody.typepad.com/lazer_beams/2006/11/king_david_kill.html

External links

Video clips about Abir

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