Tora Dojo

Tora Dojo is a form of martial arts established in New York City in 1967 by Professor Harvey (Chaim) Sober of Yeshiva University. The Tora Dojo Martial Arts Association (TDA) originated forty years ago as a small self-defense group at Yeshiva University in New York City.

Tora Dojo is an eclectic system, in which the student begins his training with Japanese karate techniques. Elements from Okinawan and Korean systems are also introduced before the black belt level. After black belt, the system becomes a Chinese system. Tai chi, Pa Kwa, White Crane and other Chinese systems are learned.

Tora Dojo is a classical martial arts system, emphasizing breathing and meditation in addition to the physical training. Tora Dojo focuses and channels a person’s energy to help him or her achieve the centeredness that is necessary to handle blows, both internal and external, as they come in.

Meaning of the name: Tora is the Japanese word for “tiger”. The word Dojo means “school of martial arts,” or “gates of learning”.

The name is also indicative of the system’s Jewish orientation (as in Torah). Tora Dojo incorporates Jewish philosophical concepts within its system.This is exemplified by the following quote by Benjamin Andron, a second-degree black belt who runs Tora Dojo West in Los Angeles:

The moves are combative by nature. But while we might be fighting anti-Semitism or an enemy, we are also fighting the things that are holding us back, the veils that hide the divine spark within us. Andron begins his class with guided meditation which is grounded in kabalistic methods. Andron says it also helps him achieve a higher level of kavanah (concentration) during his daily prayers.

Tora Dojo was established in New York City in 1967 by Grand Master Prof. Harvey (Chaim) Sober of yeshiva University. Tora Dojo is an eclectic system, in which the student begins his training with Japanese karate techniques. Elements from Okinawan and Korean systems are also introduced before the black belt level. After black belt, the system becomes a Chinese system. Tai chi. pa kwa, white crane and other Chinese systems are learned. Tora Dojo is a classical martial arts system, emphasizing breathing and meditation in addition to the physical training.

Classes are taught In the US (New York, New Jersey, Miami, Los Angeles) and in Israel. Tora Dojo has been taught in Israel since 1982. Today we have over 10 locations in Israel teaching Karate and Tai Chi. Prof. Sober visits Israel one or two times every year, and leads intensive training seminars for all of the students of Tora Dojo. In addition, Herman Kauz, one of the top students of Cheng Man-Ch’ing (who brought Tai Chi to the US in the 1960s), visits Israel yearly and leads a Tai Chi seminar focusing on “pushing hands.” Although organized for Tora Dojo, this seminar is open to practitioners from other Tai Chi systems.

Every other year Tora Dojo performs an exhibition open to the public, in which advanced kata, fighting, weapons and stone breaking are demonstrated. This year, an exhibition will be held in January in Jerusalem.

“Martial Arts” is a collective term for various fighting arts that were developed in the Far East over the course of more than a thousand years. Practicing martial arts strengthens both body and mind, develops self-confidence and provides self-defense skills. Tora Dojo is an eclectic system in which the student begins by studying Japanese karate, later advancing to learn Chinese kung fu. In addition to fighting skills, Tora Dojo emphasizes the artistic and meditative aspects of the martial arts.

Tora Dojo was founded in New York by Prof. H.I. Sober (10th dan) in 1967. Since 1983 Tora Dojo has been taught in Israel. Classes are located throughout the greater Jerusalem area as well as in Tel Aviv and the North. Karate, tai-chi (an ancient Chinese form of moving meditation) and self-defense are taught in separate classes. Our Israeli instructors are black belts accredited by the U.S. Tora Dojo Martial Arts Association. They are also accredited Wingate Sports Academy martial arts instructors.

Karate (“the art of the empty hand”) is a fighting art that uses bare hands and feet, though weapon use is also part of the training. The origins of Karate began when first the Chinese and later the Japanese occupied the island of Okinawa, and forbade the use of weapons. The Okinawans developed both empty hand fighting and the use of farming implements as weapons. This style of fighting was also influenced by similar Chinese techniques which originated from those practiced at the Shaolin temple by Buddhist monks. The founder of modern Karate, the Japanese Funakoshi Gichin (1869–1957), tried to unite between the diverse Okinawan styles, and spread them throughout Japan.

Tai Chi Chuan (”grand ultimate fist”) is a soft style martial art that developed in China. Its foundation is credited to the Taoist Chang San Feng more than 800 years ago. It consists of slow, connected movements that are practiced as a form of moving meditation. Its practice reduces tension, slows down the breath, clears the mind and produces long-term benefits to health. A strong emphasis is placed on the circulation of “chi” (life force or vital energy). Physically, students learn to yield so that the attacker is overcome by his own force. It is not ordinarily regarded as a practical self-defense system, though the movements have self-defense applications and practitioners can achieve great power in their techniques.

There are many benefits from studying Tora Dojo which will extend into one’s everyday life. These include:

Karate / Kung Fu:

  • Fitness, strength, flexibility and mobility
  • Confidence and assertiveness
  • Self-discipline
  • Concentration and self-control
  • Sense of well-being
  • Honesty, integrity and humility
  • Stress reduction
  • Sociability and courtesy

Tai Chi:

  • Enhances the ability to maintain an inner calm
  • Enhances motivation and performance in work, social and home life
  • Increases physical flexibility
  • Increases quality of life through the “inner calmness” approach to difficult situations.
  • Works towards a healthy mind and body, which can slow down the aging process
  • Reduces stress and tension
  • Develops deep concentration and mental focus