The Ancient Jewish Martial Art From Jamaica or Yemen or Ethiopia or Something


Depending on your penchant for skepticism, Abir Qesheth is either an ancient Jewish martial art passed down from Yemenite warriors or a brand new martial art created by a former rapper named Yehoshua Sofer. Sofer, who says he’s from Jamaica and/or Yemen, allegedly received the secret tradition from his father, who was the grand master. And now Sofer is passing it along to us.

Sofer may or may not descend from a long line of Jewish warriors who acted as bodyguards for Saudi royalty and Ethiopian kings. For years, he says, they practiced their martial art in secret for fear of anti-Semitism, but Sofer now teaches classes in Jerusalem twice a week, training Jewish men to be Jewish warriors. He even drills his students using the Hebrew alphabet, with each letter inspiring a different movement.

But Sofer wasn’t always a Jewish warrior. In the early 90s he was part of Israel’s burgeoning hip-hop scene, pioneering a sound called ragamuffin, with a cult hit album called ‘Hummus Makes You Stupid,’ under the name “Nigel Ha’Admor” (Nigel the teacher).

Whatever you call him, you can’t miss him on the street. With dreadlocks, a white headwrap, robes and leather sandals, his look is as unique as his story.

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