The term “Aluf Abir” refers to the “grandmaster” of the Abir-Qesheth warrior tradition. Yehoshua Avner Sofer Ma’atuf-Doḥ, the current Aluf Abir, began training in the warrior arts at the age of three, under the instruction of his grandfather, the previous Aluf Abir. After the death of his grandfather, Sofer continued to train under the instruction of his father, the Abir Ro’yim.
As a part of completing this training, in accordance with the wishes of the previous Aluf Abir, the Abir Ro’yim sent his son across the world to study the many diverse fighting forms throughout the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia – and to test the Abir-Qesheth art against these foreign systems.
Never before had there been a chance for masters of Abir, whose training was confined to desolate Yemen and the pre-”cosmopolitan” Middle East, to thoroughly investigate the warrior arts of other nations and it was necessary to ensure that Abir still measured up to the competition.
It was also important to discover the contemporary advantages found in the Abir-Qesheth system. Abir-Qesheth fighting principles proved to be diverse enough within their own original framework that Sofer discovered (on his own flesh, no less) that the system of his forefathers is all a fighter need concentrate on. Abir-Qesheth Hebrew Warrior Arts alone are enough to potentially stand up to any opponent from any of the various systems practiced today, around the world. Sofer says that what was perhaps most significant about “tasting” so many fighting systems is his ability to answer young Abir warriors when they ask, How do I defend against ______-style fighters?
His experience in dissecting various fighting systems has come in handy when high-level students from different combative disciplines, coming from both Israel and abroad, want to begin Abir training. Seeing experienced fighters derive such pleasure in advancing vastly through their newly discovered Abir techniques is a great source of pride and motivation for beginning Abir students who might otherwise had a natural tendency to ask themselves if they have made the right choice. The higher their level, the easier it is for Sofer to use their former fighting styles as reference points, allowing them to digest the unique principles in an art they have not yet settled into. Whether one is a beginner or an expert in fighting arts, one thing is certain – when one sees Sofer demonstrate his mastery, it is clear that there can not be many people who have spent a lifetime gaining comparable levels of knowledge, experience, and enhanced skill.
Over the course of fulfilling the instructions of his father and grandfather, Sofer had the opportunity to study, among other things, Tang Soo Do with Chuck Norris, Hapkido with Bong Soo Han, Tae Kwan Do with Hee Il Cho, Judo with Gene Lebell, Mantis Kung Fu with Kam Yuen and Raymond Wong, and Kuk Sool Won with GM Seo In Sun and S. B. Moon. It was while training with Grandmaster Seo In Sun of the Korea Kuksool Association, Han Min Jok, Hap Ki Do, and World KIDO Federation, that Sofer received seventh Dan black-belts in Kuk Sool Won and Hap Ki Do. His long journey through a vast world of fighting arts brought him in contact with many notable legends including the late great Bruce Lee who allowed Sofer as a young boy to watch his training sessions with many high profile students such as Ted Wong, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Professor Daniel Lee. Lee had noticed Sofer’s unique movements and fighting spirit as a boy enrolled in Chuck Norris’s ”school of Korean Karate”. As a teenager Sofer befriended a fellow just two years older than he whom he frequently found at a variety of schools from different fighting disciplines. The two would often show up at these venues independently at the same time. At first this caused them both suspicion that they would later overcome to be friends and allies who often watched each others backs around the globe. This fellow became international Kumite champion. This was the one and only Frank Dux whose life story was portrayed by Jean Claude Van Damme in the movie ”Bloddsport”. The two are still good friends today.
Upon moving back to Israel with his family, Sofer trained various government forces and taught Hapkido, Kuk Sool Won, and other martial arts to interested students (including the founder of Krav Magen, Eli Avikazar z”l) until he was given official permission by his father to begin teaching Abir publicly. At that point, Sofer gladly gave up teaching any other form of combat or fighting system except the Abir-Qesheth Hebrew Warrior Arts.
As the Aluf Abir, Sofer has a responsibility to strictly adhere to and preserve the Abir tradition, and to create whatever new protocols, guidelines, parameters, and boundaries that are necessary to ensure that the Abir organization continues to function and grow in modern times. Along these lines, Sofer has created (a) a ranking system in order to measure students’ progress, (b) a step-by-step curriculum which defines and separates the core Abir principles into digestible and cohesive sets, (c) fighting forms which enable students to practice the theories and principles of Abir when training with a partner is not possible, and (d) an environment in which students can learn and develop as Israelite warriors and rediscover (what was once) the essential formula for daily life as a spiritually-enriched nation in the land of Israel.