Who Is Mike Lee Kanarek?
If you have ever been on the mat or in the same room while Mike Lee Kanarek is teaching a class, a seminar or an advanced course you already know that he has the ability to literally light up a room while at the same time remain entirely enigmatic. Very few human beings possess such a natural ability to both dominate and intimidate those around with simple body language. Mike Lee Kanarek is able to utilize warmth and humor as he reduces everyone in a room into absolute hysterical laughter in seconds. To truly understand the phenom of Mike Lee Kanarek we must go back in the sequence of events that occurred prior to his birth.
Emil Kanarek (Mike Lee Kanarek’s future adoped father) was a young teenager growing up in Austria during the dark era of the rise of Hitler. Part of his survival of the Holocaust is credited to a group of nuns who sheltered him in their convent so the Nazi’s would not capture him and sends him to Auschwitz. At the end of this dark era, young Emil decided to journey to Israel and join the Haganah. He later became an officer in the Palmach unit, the strike force unit of the Haganah, what may have literally been the first Israeli Special Forces Unit in a Partisan formation. At the end of his stay at the convent, Emil asked the Mother Superior how he could ever repay them for the sanctuary they had provided in such dark times when all he had received from them was light during his entire stay. The Mother Superior just answered, “That is a simple question to answer. One day you must save a child like we have saved you and the circle will be closed.” The era of the Holocaust was fading away and Eastern Europe was healing from the horrific genocide of the Jewish People. The dark cloud migrated to another part of the world for the cloud of war always lurks upon humanity.
The French abandoned Indochina after failing the attempt to conquer a Far East country for political and geographical gains. After the French left, Indochina claims its name as Vietnam but the turmoil’s between the communist and non-communist leaders had clearly divided the country into North and South. As the conflict between them was heating up, the United States found it necessary to intervene. Some believe it was wrong, some say it was needed. As always, regarding political issues, thousands of lives were changed forever. A clear effect of life changing ripples occur each and every time a bomb is dropped upon a territory in a foreign nation. On January 14th, 1967, an estimated date, a child was born as a result of the American deployment to fight the North’s Viet Cong in South Vietnam. His name was Le Van Hong. Half American, half Vietnamese, the child was what they called a half-breed. These children, an estimated 22,000 are considered the flower children of the Vietnam War. Nicknamed the “Flower Children” because of the hippies in the United States protesting the war in Vietnam.
Kanarek remembered the words of the nun. To repay the kind debt to them he decided to adopt a Flower Child of the Vietnam War. The adoption process began and UNICEF, the organization in charge of extracting children from the war zone in South Vietnam, arranged the migration of Le Van Hong to Brussels, Belgium. Four children were sent for adoption. Two did not make it and perished on the voyage from the Far East to Europe. The weakest one that survived was Le Van Hong. After the child’s arrival in Belgium the UNICEF and Red Cross representatives informed Emil Kanarek and his wife Stella that they would not be able to take the child home. Their main concern was that the child would not survive because of his malnourished condition. UNICEF asked Emil Kanarek if he would prefer to wait for a healthier child to adopt in a shipment that would follow several weeks later. He declined the offer and Le Van Hong at that point named Michel Kanarek was expedited to the nearest hospital. He would stay under close supervision for the next four months not knowing if he would survive. Cholera was only one of the medical concerns among others at the time. However, it seems like divine powers wanted that child to make it.
With unconditional love the Kanarek family, Emil, Stella, Robert, (the first biological son) and Danielle (the biological daughter) raised Michel to become an exceptional, healthy, above average child who reached and exceeded all developmental milestones both academically and physically. When Michel was six years old, his Uncle Doodi told his parents that they must enroll him in a martial arts program. The uncle said that enrolling him in a martial arts program will be the link to his Asian heritage. Doodi knew that even though Michel was a Kanarek now, they must never forget where he came from. Uncle Doodi requested that he be the one to take the young boy to his martial arts training. So on a weekly basis the Uncle would pick up Michel and take him to his local Martial Arts program where as a young boy he would lay the foundation of his now world class teaching career in the Martial Arts. The world may owe Uncle Doodi the unique debt of making Mike Lee Kanarek one of the world’s leading Martial Arts instructors today, and clearly one of the most qualified pioneers in the Reality Fighting genre in the United States.
Michel grew up into a strong boy in Brussels, and from the age of 6 until the age of 10 he trained in Judo. His father, Emil Kanarek, always wanted to make “Aliyah” and return to Israel in his old age. Emil Kanarek was a Palmach officer in the Haganah, the partisan army that ended up fighting for the independence of Israel in 1948. So, at the age of 10, Michel Kanarek moved to Israel with his family to live near the red sea, in the beautiful town of Eilat.
At the age of 18 years old, Michel Kanarek volunteered to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, the IDF. After selective process and passing a grueling tryout called a Giboush, Michel Kanarek was selected to serve in one of the IDF’s toughest Special Forces Commando unit “Orev Golani.” One of the three Special Forces units of the legendary Golani Brigade. His volunteer tour of duty in the IDF included a deployment at the Notorious Beaufort Castle in South Lebanon, and a deployment in the West Bank town of Nablus during the First Intifada.
After serving 3 years in the IDF, Michel Kanarek first worked for a private security company in Israel, behind the green line, preventing agriculture theft in Jewish settlements from neighboring Arab town’s organized thieves. Kanarek second security job was a security contract in West Africa for a short period of time. Kanarek then immigrated to the United States and was renamed Mike Lee Kanarek. Since that time, he strives to constantly evolve his knowledge and experience into developing a Reality Fighting system matched by none. Mike Lee Kanarek earned a 6th degree Black Belt in Joe Lewis Fighting System directly under Kickboxing Heavy Weight World Champion Joe Lewis, the father of American Full-Contact Kickboxing. He holds a 4th degree Black Belt in Israeli Hisardut directly under Super Heavy Weight World King Cup Muay Thai Champion and Shidokan Super Heavy Weight U.S, Champion Moti Horenstein. Mike Lee Kanarek is also a 4th degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do Kukkiwon. Additionally, he holds a 1st Degree Balck Belt in Israeli Krav Maga under Rhon Mizrachi the highest ranking most experienced Israeli IDF Krav Maga Master Instructor in the U.S. Mike Lee Kanarek is also a certified instructor in Muay Thai under North Eastern Muay Thai Champion Vut Kamnark. Lastly, holds a Brown Belt in Machado Jiu-Jitsu under Marcos Santos.
"This is Mike Lee Kanarek"
In 2007, on a visit from Germany to the United Stated, Uncle Doodi visited the National Headquarters of the HaganaH system in Davie, Florida. During his visit he said to his nephew, now no longer a little boy, Mike Lee Kanarek; “Wow, I started all this. I can still remember one thing you had as an advantage over all the other children in that Martial Arts program back in Brussels in 1974, “you were relentless.”
Israeli Special Forces Commando Veteran
6th Degree Black Belt – Joe Lewis Fighting System
4th Degree Black Belt – Survival Hisardut
4th Degree Black Belt – Tae Kwon Do
1st Degree Black Belt – Krav Maga
Certified Muay Thai Kickboxing Instructor
Brown Belt Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Tactical Knife Fighting Expert
Black Belt Magazine’s Instructor of the Year 2007
Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame
Deadliest Warrior Season 2 Finale Spike TV
Instructor to Special Units in every U.S. Military Branch