Krav Maga is not a martial art, it is a real-world self-defense system. Developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, a world-renowned boxer, wrestler, and gymnast in pre-World War II Czechoslovakia, as a means of self-protection and community protection. In the mid-1930s Jewish communities were vulnerable to violence inflicted upon them by the fascist and anti-semitic groups that had risen to power. Lichtenfeld wanted to help protect his community and enlisted the help of men interested in training and patrolling the neighborhood. Lichtenfeld quickly learned that the training he had received in sport martial arts training was not very useful against street thugs. Competition fighting for points and defending oneself and their community require a different mindset and techniques. Lichtenfeld utilized his martial arts knowledge and emphasized techniques that would quickly disarm and neutralize a threat.
Lichtenfeld moved to Palestine in 1942. His defense skills were recognized by Israeli military leaders and he became involved in training the military’s elite fighting forces. Israel gained statehood in 1948 and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) named Lichtenfeld as the Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness at the IDF School of Combat Fitness. This is where Krav Maga, which is Hebrew for “contact combat,” was born. He utilized techniques from boxing, aikido, judo, wrestling, and jujitsu to develop a system that concentrated on continuous motion, simultaneous defense and attack, and targeting an attacker’s soft tissue and pressure points.
After Lichtenfeld retired from the military, he continued to improve and modify Krav Maga for civilian use. He continued training thousands of students and instructors, some of which brought Krav Maga to the U.S. Krav Maga was embraced by many Law Enforcement and U.S. Military organizations.
“Krav Maga principles are neutralizing the threat; simple techniques, such as strikes holds, and blocks; Continuous motion (Retzev); utilizing weapons of opportunity; defending against weapons; attacking soft tissue and pressure points; and controlling the attacker.”
Brett. (2013, July 10). A Primer on Krav Maga: The Combative System of the Israeli Defense Forces. artofmanliness.com
PHOTO: Krav Maga lesson at a paratrooper school in Israel, 1955