Self Defense: Rabbi Avigdor Miller on learning Karate and going out with weapons

Q: Is there anything wrong with me going to classes to learn karate? 

A: There’s nothing wrong with it, but you should never practice it. If you listen to me, I would say that the best karate is to not go out at night. And not to ever dream of using it. Because if you’ll try to use it, you’ll discover that the bums know it just as well as you. And they’re often bigger than you.

And therefore, the biggest hero is the fellow who is helpless and knows to avoid trouble. The skinny helpless fellow who doesn’t know karate, he is the one who avoids trouble. It’s always like that. Who drowns? The man who knows how to swim! If you don’t know how to swim, you stay on the shore and you keep out of danger.

So although it could be that it’s not a bad idea, but I disapprove of going out with weapons at night, even with just a stick. I don’t approve of that. Because, first of all, the stick gives you a sense of false confidence, and then you’re liable to walk down a dark or dangerous street that you would have avoided otherwise. And secondly, the bum can grab the stick and use it better than you.

Therefore, the best defense is to stay out of trouble. When you’re walking down the street, and you see a few bums, or even one bum, walking towards you, even if you’re not sure if it means trouble, just cross the street. Just cross over to the other side! You’ll be surprised how lazy bums are.

TAPE # 234

This content, and any other content on TLS, may not be republished or reproduced without prior permission from TLS. Copying or reproducing our content is both against the law and against Halacha. To inquire about using our content, including videos or photos, email us at [email protected].

Stay up to date with our news alerts by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

**Click here to join over 20,000 receiving our Whatsapp Status updates!**

**Click here to join the official TLS WhatsApp Community!**

Got a news tip? Email us at [email protected], Text 415-857-2667, or WhatsApp 609-661-8668.


  1. Then don’t let the high school boys leave yeshiva after 9 pm. In a different place, I witnessed a high school boy leave the yeshiva on an avenue with businesses closed upf and he got jumped by a thug twice his size.

  2. At YU, Chaim Sober taught Karate. He also taught the IDF. YU was infested with Columbian gangs. The smallest, skinniest bochur could take down 3 at a time. There were night classes. You walked from the dorm. Traveled in 2’s or 3’s. After a couple of incidents NO one bothered us.

  3. I remember 60 years ago in Crown heights we would wait until Soli Zimmerman would walk back from the yeshiva to the dorm, we all walked with him, it was a dangerous place and Soli was built like a ox

Comments are closed.