Origins of Krav Maga history
Krav Maga took birth in a context of violence and political instability. Imi Lichtenfeld created Krav Maga in the mid-1930s. It was above all to protect the Jewish community in Bratislava. The rise of fascism at that time in Europe was the source of violence and many aggressions.
Imrich Lichtenfeld was born in Budapest in 1910. His father, Samuel Lichtenfeld, detective and chief instructor of the departmental police, was an active athlete and wrestler. Samuel encouraged his son to participate in many athletic activities such as wrestling and boxing. During his childhood in Bratislava, a city of Czechoslovakia, he practiced wrestling, boxing, judo, gymnastics and swimming, and attended the self-defense courses given by his father. He will then win many competitions.
In the late-1930s and at the beginning of the World War II, anti-semitic aggression continued to rise because of the Nazism which spread throughout Slovakia. Imi gathered friends from boxing and wrestling to counter these attacks and prevent antisemitic groups from entering the Jewish quarter. He has participated in many fights to protect the local Jewish community. These events has quickly taught him the reality of real-world situations and how different it is from competitive combat sport.
Imi Lichtenfeld is forced to leave his country because of the authorities condemning his actions. In 1940, he joined the Haganah in Palestine, an unofficial organization whose mission is to protect the Jews who has fled to Palestine. It will then become the Tsahal in 1948, the present israeli special forces, where Imi will be in charge of the self-defense and combat program. First teaching the Kapap, a method between close combat and self-defense, he will develop new techniques of his own. From all the lessons he learned, a new realistic and effective self-defense method was born : the Krav Maga (meaning “close combat” in Hebrew). In 1964, the first school of Krav Maga is officially founded at Tel Aviv.
Rise of Krav Maga
Soon after the opening of the first Krav Maga school, Eli Avikzar join Imi’s ranks. He will soon become the main instructor and the first person to receive the black belt from Imi Lichtenfeld in the history of Krav Maga.
Krav Maga began to expand its popularity in the 1980s. At this time, Imi allows his disciples to teach Krav Maga around the world. Among them, Eyal Yanilov goes to the United States and Kobi Lichtenstein in South America. In 1985, Eli Avikzar, as a representative of the Krav Maga federation, travels to the United States to give his first training to the Los Angeles Police Department. In 1988, Richard Douieb receives the delegation of Imi to represent the Krav Maga in Europe.
Krav Maga today
Today, Krav Maga has expanded all over the globe. On the internet and even in the movies, its popularity is not questionable. The biggest Krav Maga federations count among its members thousands of member. For example, the FEKM has conquered the Europe, thanks to Richard Douieb. 18 000 members in 2017 practice in more than 200 clubs. Unfortunately, no census combines all federation. Krav Maga experts demonstrate more and more skills continuously improving the art.