Viewpoint: Breaking through limitations

June 1, 2010

Alexander Kabiri, OD, who practices at Malik Eye Care in Queens, NY, is a third-degree black belt in Zujitsu, an eclectic style of martial arts rooted in multiple, traditional disciplines.

Alexander Kabiri, OD, is looking for ways to "lengthen his line."

His journey started 14 years ago, when he spotted an old friend working at a restaurant. "We used to roughhouse with each other," Dr. Kabiri said. "So I snuck up behind him and snatched him up in a chokehold, just like we did in high school. The next thing I knew, I went flying over his shoulder. He dumped me right on to a table, which collapsed. Thankfully, he kept his job and we had a good laugh about it."

Dr. Kabiri was so impressed by his friend's ability that he began exploring various martial arts disciplines. He chose to study Zujitsu, mainly because of its unique philosophy and versatility as a self-defense system.

He believes some forms of martial arts are watered down, providing students with simply a product. But studying Zujitsu, Dr. Kabiri said, is a developmental process. Students become aware of their physical, mental, and emotional limitations-which he calls "reference points"-and learn how to surpass them, moving on to more and more difficult challenges throughout their life.

Dr. Kabiri noted that one of the biggest differences between Zujitsu and many traditional martial arts is that the latter train students to use very specific techniques in wide open versus confined spaces. For example, students may learn how to fight an assailant wielding a knife or weapon or defend themselves against a group street attack. But the techniques aren't always realistic or adaptable to everyday life, especially for students living in urban environments.

Flexibility is key

"You could be in a small space like an elevator, subway, stairwell, or getting out of your car," Dr. Kabiri explained. "That's a different kind of fight and you have to train for it. We're trained in all types of situations, pretty much fighting every imaginable scenario."

For example, he has trained blindfolded, standing, seated, lying on the ground, in the water, and also with an armed person and unarmed group of opponents. Some of his students include police officers as well as a security guard and nurse who work in psychiatric facilities.

Dr. Kabiri recently uploaded three videos on YouTube that show him executing Zujitsu. To watch the videos, go to http://www.youtube.com/ and search for Alex Kabiri.