Krav Maga was developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, a young Jewish athlete living in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The son of a former circus performer and police detective named Samuel, Imi was a natural athlete who studied swimming, gymnastics, and boxing. At 18, he was the Slovakian Youth Wrestling Champion and the next year, won the adult championship in both featherweight and middleweight division, as well as winning both the boxing and international gymnastics championship.

Imi was a brave and proud Jewish man, who refused to tolerate the Fascist and Anti-Semitic abuse being wrecked against the Jewish community. He organized a group of young Jewish athletes to begin fighting back. They would actively block rioters from Jewish neighborhoods and give them the incentive to leave quickly if they valued their teeth.

The group was almost all trained in boxing, wrestling and weightlifting, and they soon realized that the sports world had nothing to do with combat. Imi decided to refine a system for practical self-defense that anyone (adult or child, male or female) could use to prevent an attack. His method focused on natural movements and reactions in defense, and then swiftly counter-attack. He later developed techniques that allowed for simultaneous defense and attack.

Imi managed to escape the Nazis and flee to Israel, but his family and friends were brutally murdered.

Imi devoted his life to their memory, vowing to teach defense so that others could walk and live peacefully. And so he did, becoming the trainer of the Haganah who were the early Zionist partisans fighting against the British occupation.

He helped mold their strike forces, who eventually became the Israeli Special Forces upon the founding of the State of Israel. Imi taught these young soldiers how to swim, how to wrestle, how to defend themselves and how to fight back hard.

Upon the founding of the State of Israel, Imi became the Chief Instructor at the IDF School of Combat Fitness, where he used real-world training to develop and refine the techniques, taking techniques from aikido, judo, and karate in order to make hand to hand combat and defense second nature to the young soldiers who were fighting for the very life of Israel. His students often cross-trained and brought back techniques to further augment the system.

Imi also developed a civilian equivalent, remembering the violent mobs of his childhood home and knowing that there would always be a need for self-defense at every point in time.

The methods continue today. Krav Maga is practiced all over the world by professionals in law enforcement, military and security, as well as civilians for self-defense.  


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