Rabbi Yossi Eilfort does not train on Shabbat, doesn’t like to hit people and doesn’t have a long background in self-defense techniques – but he’s now a rising martial arts competitor, according to Fox News.
Rabbi Eilfort, a 22-year-old member of the Chabad-Lubavitch chasidic group who lives in La Costa, Cal., won his first match last week, fighting as “The Rabbi.”
“I was very uncomfortable hitting someone. I actually held back,” Rabbi Eilfort told Fox News, which reported that he is using his sudden fame to encourage Jewish interest in fitness and safety.
Mixed martial arts is a full contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, from a variety of other combat sports.
Before he started training six months ago, the rabbi said to Fox, he had never hit anyone.
He won last week’s bout by a TKO (technical knockout) in the second round, according to Fox.
“I never figured that a rabbi would be interested in fighting,” his Cameroon-born coach, Theirry Sokoudjoa, told Fox. “But I was stoked. He never quits.”
Rabbi Eilfort’s next match is Jan. 28 in Thousand Oaks, CA.