By Eva Trieger |Photos by MikeMooreProductions
Prior to my recent visit to Caliber 3 USA in San Marcos, my only encounter with Krav Maga was through the fictional NCIS character, Ziva David, a former Mossad agent. The training provided here comes directly from the world-renowned Israel Defense Forces, and is intended to teach individuals, corporations, and law enforcement officers self-defense that is effective and instinctual. Wow, did I get an education!
Krav Maga borrows from many other martial arts and self-defense practices including: boxing, savate, Muay Thai, Wing Chun, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, wrestling , and grappling. It was developed in the 1930s by Imi Lichtenfeld in order to help members of the Jewish community protect themselves from brutal Nazi forces. Over time it has expanded in scope to train individuals in hand to hand combat, home invasions, active shooters and terrorist attacks.
The training is both physical and psychological, enabling even a smaller person to gain the upper-hand with effective, instinctive movements that will overpower an attacker regardless of size, strength or weaponry. Caliber 3 teaches a combat mindset, meaning flipping the switch from 0-100 in the time an incident takes place. The most important thing is to engage the attacker as quickly as possible and not give them the chance to harm others.
The practice requires a great deal of discipline and by employing the entire body and mind, provides an incisive response to any threat to safety.
Colonel Sharon Gat, a counter-terror expert and member of the IDF, is the founder and creator of Caliber 3 academy in Israel. He teaches that “preparedness is the key to emerging from a shooting attack unscathed.” Citing the fact that the Israeli response has resulted in far fewer fatalities from mass shootings, Gat identified the need for Caliber 3 USA. The colonel has vast operational experience in both guerrilla warfare and counter-terrorism, and has commanded units in special operations in Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In 2003, Col. Gat was selected by the Defense Ministry and the IDF to head a special counter-terrorism project in high risks areas. He has established and commanded security and anti-terror units for the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the IDF.
Yonathan Farber is the Chief Training Instructor at Caliber 3 USA. He served as sergeant in the IDF for the paratrooper unit . After the army he served as a security guard for Israel Ministry of Defense as one of Ehud Barak’s security details, along with other high ranking officers, and VIP delegations. Following his security guard experience, Yonathan served many years in a special undercover unit for the Israeli government where he performed over 200 operations a year in both combat and intelligence. After his service, Yonathan joined the Caliber 3 team, and trained security guards and police In Israel.
Philip Moore, General Manager has ten years of experience with Pacifica, Caliber 3’s managing partner. In addition, he has ten years of handgun experience, and in the last five years, has participated in seminars with Colonel Sharon Gat and Eitan Cohen at the Caliber 3 Israel facility. Currently, Moore is a member of San Diego County Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
Caliber 3 sits atop a slight incline, just north of the 78 and about 8,000 miles from Jerusalem. From the exterior the building resembles a large two-story warehouse, set on lot with ample parking. However, there is nothing remotely free-form or unplanned about this structure.
In an effort to bring a bit of Israel to San Marcos, the building is landscaped with a park-like theme. A running trail encircles the building, and is used for warm-ups before the workouts. The same trail marker that demarcates the Shvil Yisra’el (Israel National Trail) is painted on a rock at the trailhead. The seven species of Israel, as mentioned in Deuteronomy, are in evidence on the property. These include wheat, barley, grapes, fig, pomegranate, olive and date palms.
I noted a mezzuzah affixed to the right hand doorpost, as I entered the building, before Philip pointed out a retail area, and a large training areas. One is for intense circuit training, and the other is designed for target shooting and combat shooting and tactical drills. To the right, behind a glass wall, there is a classroom where several security cameras survey different parts of the building’s interior, upper level, exterior and lower level. Behind the first classroom, is a smaller one, where the instructor can give more individual review or practice as needed.
Perhaps the most fascinating, and not a little disturbing, aspect of Caliber 3 USA, is the model home. A perfect replica of a home, replete with kitchen, kids’ playroom, living room, and wide screen television is used to simulate home invasions. Here, participants learn how to anticipate and respond to an attack where it is least expected and where the risk of harm to loved ones is greatest. Moore and Farber demonstrated this by enhancing the simulation with the aid of a sound system. Using a laptop Moore elicited glass breaking, a woman’s scream and a gunshot. These scenarios are intended to give clients the genuine experience of an invasion, so that they learn to react instantly and protect themselves and their families.
By employing the IDF’s fitness checklist as well as weapons training and Krav Maga, clients learn to make these important and instantaneous decisions while undergoing severe mental and physical stress. Farber explained that the goal is to learn to assess a situation quickly, decide on a course of action and execute it, all while incurring the least amount of harm. Again, the notion of preparedness and training is key.
Caliber 3 USA offers a number of leveled courses: Combat Fitness, Krav Maga and Combat Shooting. Progress is tracked and classes are offered a number times each week with combat seminars on weekends. The center was created for “Jews and friends of Israel.” It is open to the entire community, and is intended to prepare everyone in the event of any terrorist attack. According to one counter-terror expert, “the ability to remain calm and think clearly during an attack often makes the critical difference between life and death.”
While it is hardly pleasant to consider that we need to take a more aggressive and proactive stance against terrorism, it is comforting that Caliber 3 USA and highly qualified individuals such a Moore and Farber, are in San Marcos, and not in Eretz Yisroel.
To register for classes at Caliber 3 USA, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (760) 660-4473.