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The history & ethos of Krav Maga, walk peacefully

The history & ethos of Krav Maga, walk peacefully

History of Krav Maga

Created and developed by Imi Lichtenfeld and the IDF, Krav Maga only came into civilian life in 1965. It grew outside of Israel in the early 1980’s and is now popular around the world, being used not only by Military and Security Forces but civilians as well.
When Imi Lichtenfeld, the creator of Krav Maga was given the task of creating a fighting system for the fledgling IDF he studied how soldiers reacted naturally under intense stress and pressure. Having studied people’s instinctive reactions under pressure to various forms of attack he then amplified those natural movements and so created Krav Maga, over half a century ago. Since then Krav Maga has been adopted by the likes of the FBI, The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Beverley Hills PD – in fact more than 60 agencies in the USA alone – as well as the Finnish Paratroopers to name but a few.

Here is a short biography of the founder of Krav Maga, Imi Lichtenfeld;

“The founder of Krav Maga is Imrich Sde-or (Imi Lichtenfeld). Imi was born in Budapest on March 26th, 1910. Imi`s father Samuel was early a circus acrobat and wrestler, but got into the police force and actually served for many years as Chief Detective Inspector. He became well known for his considerable arrest record, particularly of dangerous criminals.
In his youth Imi studied wrestling, boxing, and gymnastics. In 1928 Imi won the Slovakian Youth Wrestling Championship, and in 1929 the adult championship (in the light and middle weight division). That year he also won the national boxing championship and an international gymnastics championship. During the ensuing decade, Imi’s athletic activities focused mainly on wrestling, both as a contestant and a trainer.

In the mid thirties, conditions began to change in Bratislava. Fascist and anti-Semitic groups appeared, determined to upset the public order and harm the city’s Jewish community. Imi became the un-crowned leader of a group of young Jews, most of them with a background in boxing, wrestling, and weightlifting. This group attempted to block the anti-Semitic bands from entering the Jewish quarter and wreaking havoc there. In the following years Imi was forced to fight in street brawls and confrontations over and over again. It was in these fights Imi understood the differences between street confrontations and competition fighting.

Forced to flee the area in 1940 at the age of 30, he caught the last immigration boat to Israel, the Pentcho. During the trip Imi’s physical condition was very bad. He endured several operations and doctors did not expect him to live. But he recovered and proceeded to volunteer for service in a Czech military unit of the British armed forces. The unit served during World War II in Lebanon, Syria, Libya, and Egypt. This combat experience led him to further refine his martial art skills.
When discharged in 1942, he requested and was allowed to immigrate to Israel. Given Imi`s extensive self defense skills, Imi was recruited by Isaac Sadeh, the commanding officer of the Haganah in 1942. Two years later he began to teach Krav Maga (Hebrew for “contact combat”) and physical exercise to the most elite special forces units of the Haganah, Palmach, and Palyam. During this period, firearms were outlawed and in very scarce supply. They were hidden away from the British and only used for special missions. The fact that firearms could not be used had a great influence on the development of Krav Maga. Unarmed combat was absolutely essential for the success of the military.

After the establishment of Israel in 1948, Imi became the chief instructor of hand to hand combat in the Israeli military, and when he retired from the IDF he set about making Krav Maga into a self-defense system for the people of the world. Imi was very active until the end, always happy to help his student and eager to find solutions to new problems.
Sadly on Jan 8th 1998, Imi Lichtenfeld, aged 88, passed away.”