Adir Rafael

Jericho Tactical owner Adir Rafael demonstrates one of the training exercises performed at his self-defense academy. 

DENVER – A man who spent the better part of the past decade as an Israeli soldier and intelligence officer has turned his self-defense expertise into a local business.

Adir Rafael recently relocated to the Charlotte area to establish Jericho Tactical, which offers firearms and self defense training to citizens and law enforcement agencies. The academy opened two months ago.

Even as a child, Rafael new he wanted to be in the military. He eventually joined the Israel Defense Forces, rose through the ranks and realized his dream of becoming a tank commander. He earned five combat awards in his three years with the Israel Defense Forces.

“Those awards put me on the radar of the Israeli Intelligence Services, and I started receiving calls from the Israeli government,” he said.

The calls were from the Israeli Shin Bet, which functions like the FBI here.

“I decided that was something I wanted to do next,” Rafael said. “After their military service, most Israelis travel abroad for at least a year just to ‘detox’ after what they’ve been through, but I went to an interview with the Shin Bet literally the day I retired from the military.”

Rafael protected “recruiters” who crossed into Palestinian territory.

“Just like any other intelligence agency, we had to recruit human assets, so we would go behind the Gaza Strip to all these dangerous places to meet with these people,” he said. “My job was to make sure that the guy doing the recruiting went in and came out safe.”

During this time Rafael met the woman who has since become his wife, an American who was living in Ohio at the time. With Rafael still living in Israel, he began to contemplate a permanent move to the U.S., and that’s when he got an email from the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C.

Rafael ultimately ended up spending more than four years at the Israeli Embassy in New York, where he was responsible for protecting Israel’s ambassadors and delegates, as well as its largest consulate in the world.

Next step

When he ultimately retired, Rafael decided to use the skills he’d gained over the years to help citizens and law enforcement officers prepare for the worst possible situations, including terror attacks, something Israel knows well.

“Something fascinating happened through this most-recent wave of terror attacks over the past couple of years where, on average, each attack started and ended within 15 seconds, meaning the perpetrator was neutralized in that timeframe,” Rafael noted. “It’s about the mentality of the people because over there the civilians are taking matters into their own hands when under attack.”

He pointed to the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting as an example of a mass shooting without a quick resolution.

“One guy was able to kill 50 people,” Rafael said. “In that instance the victims laid on the floor rather than fighting back, and that mentality of refusing to be a victim paired with the ability to fight back is what we’re trying to teach here.”

Rafael also teaches Krav Maga, a military self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces that combines aspects of boxing, wrestling, aikido, judo and karate.

“I feel like I have a lot to show people, and what I love about Krav Maga is it’s another step you can take in self defense before involving a firearm,” said Rafael, who trained in the discipline for more than a decade. “When you’re armed with a firearm, that’s just another step of escalation because people become hyper-aware and tension is added, and what we see in Israel is people going to their guns way too fast.”

Rafael often groups law enforcement officers with civilians for Krav Maga civilians and police can get an idea of the other’s perspective.

Krav Maga offers three branches of training, each aimed at different situations and outcomes.

“For military, the instruction is plain and simple; you want to eliminate the threat,” Rafael explained. “With law enforcement, you want to detain the threat rather than eliminate it. Then, civilians don’t want to do either of those because, as a civilian, your goal is to defend yourself and then get the hell away from the situation.”

Krav Maga sessions are offered at Jericho on Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon. Private Krav Maga sessions are available as well, and Jericho also offers a self-defense session designed specifically for women.

Jericho also offers basic pistol and rifle courses, as well as an intermediate pistol course. Skill-maintenance sessions are available for those who want to stay sharp after completing a course.

The firearms courses start in the classroom, where trainees learn basic safety rules, how to properly load and unload their weapon, and the fundamentals of marksmanship. .

“I think our speciality is realism,” Rafael said. “I’m not a big fan of just shooting paper targets. I prefer shooting at something that’s moving like in real life, something that’s going to attack you back, which is why we use non-lethal equipment in our teaching.”

Since Rafael puts his clients in authentic situations, real bullets aren't used in the training exercises.

"We're shooting something that's called Force on Force, which is non-lethal," Rafael said. "We use replicas of real firearms that have the same recoil and everything, but the projectile is plastic so that it doesn't do any damage. That way, especially for beginner shooters, we can simulate without the panic that comes with the consequences of a real-life situation."

Want to know more?

Go to or call 704-972-8040.


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