History of Krav Maga
Imi Lichtenfeld was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in 1910. A natural athlete, Imi earned national and international awards in wrestling and boxing. His father Samuel, who was a self-defence instructor for the Police Department, taught Imi everything he knew about the fighting arts. Imi learned many fighting techniques from his father. During the 1930’s, Imi’s fighting skills were put ot the test on the streets of Bratislava, protecting himself and his Jewish neighbours from the local fascist thugs. The fights and scuffles he took part in made him aware of the differences between street-fighting situations and the competitions he was used to.
The deteriorating situation in Czechoslovakia and his efforts to protect his family and neighbors attracted the attention of the local authorities. In 1940, Imi left Bratislava for Israel, then called Palestine. Using the skills he developed in Bratislava, Imi fought for the Independence of the State of Israel.
After independence, the Israeli government approached Imi and asked him to develop an effective self-defence system that students could learn and be proficient with in a short period of time. Calling his new system Krav Maga (Hebrew for Close Combat), Imi was appointed the Chief Instructor for the military schools for Physical Training and Krav Maga.
During the twenty years Imi served in the Israeli Defence Forces, he further developed and honed Krav Maga, teaching the army instructors and soldiers. After his retirement from the service, Imi devoted both his time and energy to adapting Krav Maga to everyday life. Imi passed away in 1998.
Today, Krav Maga has been taught to thousands of civilians, soldiers and law-enforcement personnel.
What is Krav Maga?
Krav Maga (“Contact Combat” in Hebrew) is the self-defence system taught to soldiers of the Israeli Defence Forces, members of the Israeli Police and Security Services as well as law-enforcement agencies worldwide. Created by Imi Lichtenfield for the Israeli Army during the 1950’s, Krav Maga has several core aims:
- To allow the student to become proficient within a relatively short period of time (10-12 weeks)
- To be very effective in ordinary street fighting situations
- To provide an effective defence against common weapons such as knives, bottles and sticks
No great level of fitness needed - accessible for all ages
How is Krav Maga Different?
There are some similarities between Krav Maga and other martial arts. However, Krav Maga was developed in an environment where the Israeli military could not devote many hours to prolonged hand to hand combat training for their personnel. Therefore, the Krav Maga system was created with great importance placed on bringing students to a high level of skill in a relatively short period of time.
There are no rules in the system. Anything goes when you are fighting for your life! Krav Maga is much more a survival system dealing with personal safety issues in the context of defending against both armed and unarmed attackers. It is considered to be a modern, highly refined, street fighting system, designed to be utilised against muggings, street attacks and sexual assaults. The techniques learnt could kill someone!
Krav Maga has received international recognition for its highly unique approach in bringing self defence to civilian and law enforcement alike. According to law enforcement trainers, among the most striking characteristics of the system are:
Students are instructed in state-of-the-art defensive principles that apply to a variety of threatening attacks that occur during commonly documented street crimes.
Students train from a position of disadvantage in real-time and real-speed. Defensive manoeuvres are combined with simultaneous counterattacks until all potential danger is eliminated. Unique training methods are employed to simulate violent street encounters. This is necessary to place students under extreme stress while performing Krav Maga techniques. Students learn to go from a passive to an aggressive state quickly. Krav Maga also teaches students to function with their attention divided; while fatigued; and when they are faced with a multitude of spontaneous scenarios.