I caught a plane to Cyprus and after staying for a night in Nicosia, I caught a connection to Israel. I was met by my associate and friend at the airport, and we then made our way to where we would stay for the duration of my trip.
It was on the 6th of October, 1973 that the Yom Kippur war started. All flights were grounded and travel was limited for military purposes. I was so naïve because when the sirens sounded I thought it was a flood warning, the group I was with said, Sensei don't worry it's only a war.
Syria and Egypt had attacked across the Suez Canal, Moshe Dayan that evening appeared on Israeli television and stated we have a small problem with our Arab neighbours. However, tomorrow we will solve this problem. I wish I could have shared his confidence.
Not being able to leave the country I decided to volunteer as a reserve, but the I.D.F only wanted people to work on the Kibbutz. My job was trying to compress 20 tons of cotton with your feet in the midday sun, 6 hours later the job was done. The reason for this was that all the machinery was sent to the front line.
It was fun but very hard work and later the I.D.F sent a letter of thanks for our help. After the war finished we made our way down to the Dead Sea, to train and chill out.
Walking through the Wadi Qilt (dried river canyon) with two of my associates for a distance of 12km, we reached our location about 2.00pm in temperatures reaching 38c. As I walked towards the Dead Sea I looked down and saw a fish swimming towards me. I said to my friends look a fish! Suddenly they grabbed me and pulled me to the ground and proceeded to pour water down my throat. I felt like I was drowning, they lifted me up and said can you still see the fish, I said yes there it is, and they pulled me down again and made me drink again. On letting me up they said where is the fish, I said that it had gone with that they allowed me to stand up and said lets go. No fish or any living creature lives in the Dead Sea, only the ones that appear during de-hydration!
On reaching our final destination we made camp where upon lighting a fire, it’s light and tranquility seemed to be the desire of everyone with complete silence and a warm breeze, everyone had time to reflect on the day.
In the morning the sun came up at 4.00am and with it the flies wanted their breakfast and we were to be on the menu, so the best thing was to dive in the sea and freshen up. Diving into the sea was like driving into space, the temperature of the water was un-noticeable. After leaving this heaven in the sea and drying myself, nature was all around. As I looked up at the rocks above me, I had an audience of mountain antelope looking down upon me. Watermelon and other fruits seemed to be the best thing to fulfil all appetites and were like natures wine.
After a few days it was time to head back to Jerusalem, where I was introduced to a gentleman called Hassan who lived in the Old City of Jerusalem and practiced Jujitsu. A modest and hard working man, he invited me to teach in his Dojo, because of the war one had to be careful where you went. However, we went to his Dojo and conducted a class to students from both sides of the ethnic divide. I went through the curriculum that I knew at that time and everyone seemed to enjoy it. The most important thing was that people were sharing a passion together without conflict.