Where Did Krav Maga Originate?

Krav Maga teaches self-defense techniques.
Krav Maga teaches self-defense techniques.

Krav Maga, which is a form of self-defense and means of street fighting, is more of a martial than art. A person who is well trained in Krav Maga is regarded as a walking weapon and one who can easily fight an opponent bearing a weapon. Krav Maga is a type of military self-defense and fighting technique that was developed for the Israeli Security and Defense Forces. It was derived from martial arts and other contact sports alongside realistic fight training. 

What Is Krav Maga?

Krav Maga focuses on the real world situation and is extremely effective in fending off and sometimes disarming the opponent. It was founded by Imi Lichtenfeld, a Hungarian-Israeli martial artist who used his training as a wrestler and boxer to defend the Jewish against the fascists in Bratislava in the 1930s. He had moved to Israel and was using his skills to provide combat training to what was to become IDF. Krav Maga emphasizes aggression and simultaneous offensive and defensive maneuvers. The term “Krav Maga” is a Hebrew term that can be translated to mean “contact combat.” The technique has been used by the Israeli special forces unit and closely related variations have also been developed and adopted by the Israeli intelligent organizations and law enforcers.

Founding of Krav Maga

Imi Lichtenfeld was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1910 but was brought up in Bratislava, Slovakia. He became active in several sports disciplines such as boxing, gymnastics, and wrestling. Lichtenfeld would go on to win the Slovak Youth Wrestling Championship in 1928 and the adult championship the following year. When anti-Jewish riots broke out in Bratislava in the 1930s, Lichtenfeld became the leader of a certain group of Jewish wrestlers and boxers who were defending the Jewish neighborhood. He soon discovered that actual fighting was different from competition fighting he was used to. Lichtenfeld decided to re-evaluate his fighting ideas and began developing techniques and skills that would later become Krav Maga.

Krav Maga Training for the IDF

When Israel was established in 1948 and the IDF formed, Lichtenfeld was made the chief instructor Krav Maga and physical fitness and for the IDF at the School of Combat. Later, Aikido and the counter defense was incorporated into Krav Maga. In 1976, Lichtenfeld joined the permanent force of the IDF where he greatly advanced the self-defense and fighting technique. He has managed to train about 90,000 soldiers, of which the majority are male soldiers. A Krav Maga course at the IDF takes approximately five weeks to be completed. Civilians are also allowed to practice it for self-defense. Krav Maga association was formed in 1978 while the Israeli Krav Maga Association was established in 1989.


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