To Idan Oganov,
I want to say Mazal Tov on taking third place at the World Championships in Slovenia. You brought home a medal for your country, winning a top position even with an injury. You made Israel proud.
You made us even prouder at the ceremony when you stood proudly as a group of adults burst into your medal ceremony to intimidate and scare you.
You’re 15 years old, and people decided that bullying you and trying to ruin your moment was appropriate, all because you wore an Israeli flag. All the ideas of martial arts got left behind, and they decided scaring a high school student was more important than the idea of healthy and honorable competition.
Your interview with Israel Hayom shows how well you have absorbed the lessons of martial arts. “I stood there alone in front of them and proudly waved the Israeli flag.”
Idan, you are marvelous. Your poise was amazing. That level of dignity and self-control is something many adults could not achieve. That moment must have been terrifying and upsetting for you, but you didn’t let them get to you. You saw their ugly bullying, and you responded with dignity and pride.
It was very emotional for me as a Krav Maga instructor that this happened 452 kilometers from the birthplace of Krav Maga, and our grandmaster Imi Sde-Or.
Watching you on screen, I saw the same fighting spirit of a gifted athlete who would not be intimidated by hatred and held his head high through the worst bigotry.
I know I’m not alone in that estimation. I hope you saw that Israeli MMA Natan Levy called you a champion kid. He speaks on behalf of the entire Israeli martial arts community, you are our hero, and we all have learned from you what courage is.
I wish you success in your martial arts journey and many more opportunities to stand and hold the flag of Israel with pride, representing us as well as you do. And in three years, when you put on your uniform and serve our people in another way, I know you will bring the same character and strength to those duties as well. You will serve as an example to others of how to conduct oneself under stressful situations and how to overcome adversity.