Krav Maga is an Israeli self defense system.
It is a modern unique and logical system that teaches practical self-defense skills whilst improving fitness and increasing self-confidence. Krav maga’s guiding principles are simplicity, using natural reactions and efficiency. Krav maga is suitable for all people, regardless of age, gender and strength and teachs its trainees to overcome stressful and unpredictable situations including violent conflicts.
The term Krav Maga began at the IDF as military language for unarmed combat training and became embedded in the IDF. At the end of the 1960’s and beginning of the 1970’s , after finishing his army service, Imi (founder of Krav Maga) and his students opened the first civilian clubs and adopted the term Krav Maga and did not separate it from the IDF terminology. The difference was in the techniques and the scenarios which were design for civilians.
In the 1980’s Krav Maga developed from being a collection of techniques to becoming an organized method. Imi, with the help of his senior students, wrote a curriculum: they divided the levels into ranks, catalogued the techniques according to levels and belts (today it is rank symbols – patches) and created the instructor training process (self-defense and fighting techniques and instruction methodology).
Within the Krav Maga method are incorporated techniques of fighting and self defense such as: defending yourself from attacks by unarmed assailant, releasing yourself from various situations such as chocking and holds while standing or pinned to the ground, attacking techniques (for stopping an attacker), self defense against armed assailant with cold weapons or being threatened with guns, etc. In Krav Maga there are no rules like there are in other forms of martial art, and that is one of the reasons there are no competitions in Krav Maga. The contents learned in Krav Maga are relevant to the reality of our lives, and therefore the training is practical and designed to create readiness for “Realistic street scenarios”.
We at “Impact Krav Maga” continue Imi’s way and philosophy. The instruction in our school is based on the same original curriculum with adjustments to fit the modern world. It is our goal to continue developing the system and keeping it up to date.
The founder of Krav Maga, Imi Sde-Or (Lichtenfeld) was a person with an amazing life story. He was born in 1910 in Budapest and moved to Slovakia at an early age. He was raised and educated in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. His father, Samuel Lichtenfeld, was an extraordinary person whose many accomplishments left a significant impression on Imi. His father practiced many sports such as weight lifting, wrestling, circus strength virtuoso, and later on was the chief of a detective force. He also managed a wrestling club in the Bratislava police.
Imi Lichtenfeld grew up with and took in sports from the moment he was born; he excelled at swimming, gymnastics, wrestling and boxing. At the age of 18 he already held international titles in these fields.
By the age of 30 (1940) Imi won dozens of competitions as a fighter and trained hundreds of fighters. With the rise of fascism in Europe in the mid 1930’s and the riots against the Jews, Imi became the undisputed leader of young people and youth in the Jewish community at the Jewish quarter in Bratislava. Imi participated in dozens of street fights against rioters and there is a great deal of evidence on how he led the Jews of the city in defending their community. Some of these events could fit the script of a Hollywood movie. During these fights, Imi came up with the basic concept of Krav Maga and an understanding of the difference between self defense and street fight and martial arts as a sports. When asked by his students about those times, Imi used to say to demonstrate the principles of dealing with multiple attackers: “sometimes there was not enough time to hit the same person twice…”
With the strengthening of the riots and the spread of the Nazi regime in Europe, Imi joined hundreds of Jewish activists making their way to Israel on the famous immigrant ship “Pentcho”. The ship went through many troubles and eventually sank in the Greek sea. Imi, as usual, was a hero and a leader on the ship, saving people from drowning and caring for the needs of his friends. When the ship sank, Imi headed a small group which left in a rowboat to seek help. After a few days, they were exhausted and Imi became ill with an acute ear infection, the group came upon a British battleship headed for Egypt. Imi was hospitalized and underwent several operations on his ear and mouth, but remained paralyzed in half of his face. Upon his recovery, he joined the Czechoslovak Legion and fought the Nazis alongside the British forces.
Disputes with the regiment’s master sergeant who harassed the Jewish group led Imi to end his service and make his way to Israel of those days (1942), but not before teaching that master sergeant a “practical” lesson in combat… Imi’s name proceeded him, and upon his arrival in Israel Imi was recruited to the “Haganna” (the organization in charge of defending the Jews in Israel, before the IDF). Imi taught swimming, self defense and knife combat. When the IDF was established Imi began to institute Krav Maga as the unarmed method of combat taught in the IDF and became its head Krav Maga instructor. Over his 16 years of service Imi trained thousands of officers and soldiers from the IDF’s units.
In 1964 Imi left the IDF and began converting the military Krav Maga to a self defense method for civilians. He started a club in the city where he lived, Netanya, and over the years he trained hundreds of instructors. Those instructors eventually spread Krav Maga around the world and made the method world renowned. Nowadays, Krav Maga is taught in every organization within the Israeli security apparatus and in many armies and units around the world. There are dozens of international organizations run by Imi’s senior students, and it is estimated there are close to a million students of this method around the world.
Imi passed away peacefully in 1998, when he was 88 years old.