What Is Krav Maga?
Self-Defense for REAL LIFE! Krav-Maga originated in Israel under battle field conditions and adapted very efficiently to real life on the streets! It is based on natural reflexive reactions to threats and attacks so it is easy to learn AND ...easy to remember! People have been trained in Krav Maga all over the world thus expanding and continuing its founder's (Imi Lichtenfield) philosophy that nobody should have to live in fear but instead, one should train in Krav Maga so that "one may walk in peace!"
History of Krav Maga
Imi was born in 1910 in Budapest, Hungary, Emerich "Imi" Lichtenfeld (Sde-Or) grew up in Bratislava, Czechloslavakia. To get the true background and feel for Imi (and krav-maga) you actually have to go back a generation to Imi's father. As ...a youngster of 13, Imi's father, Samuel Lichtenfeld, joined a professional circus troupe, where he excelled in both wrestling and boxing. For Samuel, the circus was a school where he received extensive knowledge and training in fitness, weight lifting, wrestling, boxing, and mixed-skill fighting, Samuel eventually settled down and joined the Czech police as a detective and led the force in arrests. Eventually, Samuel became the Chief of Detectives.
Samuel founded and ran the wrestling club and gym "Hercules," where he trained Imi and other young competitive athletes. Imi rapidly distinguished himself as a champion in swimming, judo, boxing, wrestling, and gymnastics, among other athletic pursuits. In 1928 Imi won the Slovakian Youth Wrestling Championship and then in 1929 he won the adult championship – in both the light and middle weight class!! Also in 1929, Imi also won the national boxing championship AND an international gymnastics championship!!
In Czechoslovakia Imi began to face increasing anti-Semitic violence. As Nazi hatred infected Slovakia, Jews were increasingly victims of near constant violence. To protect the Jewish community from marauding fascists and anti-Semites, Imi organized a group of young Jews to protect his community. On the streets, Imi quickly learned the vital differences between sport martial arts competition and street fighting. While serving on the front lines to protect his community, Imi began to combine natural movements and reactions with immediate and decisive counterattacks. Here, on the streets, fighting for survival was where a lot of the techniques and philosophy of Krav Maga were developed.
These community self-defense activities made Imi a wanted man by the fascist Nazi occupational authorities. Nazi intolerance soon quickly reached a crescendo as the Germans began their systematic extermination of European Jewry. In May 1940, the Beitar Zionist Youth movement invited Imi to join them on the riverboat, Pentcho, bound for Palestine. This turned out to be the last immigrant ship that succeeded in escaping the Nazi's clutches.
Imi arrived in Palestine in 1942 where Israel's early leaders recognized Imi's fighting abilities, innovativeness, and his ability to impart this training to others. Imi began training the Palmach (elite fighting units), the Palyam (marine fighting units), and the Hagana, which would merge into the modern-day Zahal or Israeli Defense Force as well as groups of police officers. This training included fighting fitness, obstacle training, bayonet tactics, sentry removal, knife fighting, stave/stick fighting and any other military-oriented problems that required a creative solution.
In 1948 Imi became the principal authority in close-quarters-combat for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Imi became the Chief Instructor for Physical Fitness and Krav-Maga at the IDF School of Combat Fitness as well. He was in charge of training a disparate group of soldiers of all shapes, sizes, and abilities, many of whom did not speak the same language. He needed to develop a self-defense system that would work for not only spry eighteen-year-olds and elite fighting troops in prime physical condition, but also for middle-aged and graying reserve soldiers. He needed a system that soldiers could learn quickly, during their 3-week-long basic training. Finally, he needed a system that worked, one that soldiers could apply to any situation at any time intuitively and without hesitation.
In 1964, after retiring as Chief Instructor, Imi began to adapt his system for use in the civilian world.
In 1970, he began teaching a state recognized Krav Maga instructor's course. He encouraged the instructors to join military, security, and police units or to establish themselves as professional instructors within the civilian community.
Imi focused both on teaching professionals (law enforcement, executive protection and security specialists) and adapting his system to provide ordinary civilians - men, women, boys and girls - with solutions to avoid and/or end a violent encounter. In 1978, Imi, along with his senior students including Mr. Avi Moyal (whom he appointed as the Chairman) established the Ha Agudah L'Krav Maga Yisraeli or the Israeli Krav Maga Association (IKMA) in his hometown, Netanya, to promote Krav Maga throughout Israel.
On January 9th, 1998, early in the morning, Emerich "Imi" Lichtenfeld (Sde-Or) passed away, but his legacy and vision live on strong....