"Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy!" is the motto of the Cobra Kai dojo, the quintessential "bad guys" in the classic 80's movie The Karate Kid and inspiration for the YouTube/Netflix series Cobra Kai, which presents the original film's antagonist, Johnny Lawrence, in a more human light.
At Maccabee Apparel, we're big fans of the Karate Kid, and Cobra Kai, so we thought we'd put our own spin on it. Jewish tradition is a little different in that it neither practices nor preaches pacifism. While Judaism forbids unprovoked violence along with all other forms of evil, vigorous self-defense, or doing whatever is necessary to save the lives of others from violent aggressors, is not only permitted, it is a considered a moral obligation. Hence, Cobra Khai; "khai," more commonly transliterated "chai," is the Hebrew word for "life."
Fun fact: the sigil of the Israelite tribe of Dan is a serpent. Some of Israel's greatest warriors (e.g. Samson, from the Book of Judges) were Danites.
Our motto comes from an ancient folk saying based on the Midrash (Hebrew oral tradition). The observation that one who shows compassion for the cruel will ultimately be cruel toward the compassionate has been borne out time and again throughout human history. Whether between individuals, tribes, or nations, it takes two to establish peace. Understanding and compassion are virtues, but showing them toward someone who is actively trying to destroy you is not. But "Strike First, Strike Hard, SOME Mercy--assuming the circumstances warrant it" sounded weird on a t-shirt, so we went with the proverb instead.
Cobra Khai for life!