Krav Maga literally means “Contact – Combat” or “Close Quarter Combat”. The roots of modern Krav Maga began in Czechoslovakia in the 1930’s with Imi Lichtenfeld, an expert in boxing and wrestling. He was influenced by his father, Shmuel, a detective and Defensive Tactics instructor with the local police force. Shmuel Lichtenfeld was known as a tough officer with a reputation for arresting the most violent criminals.
Young Imi grew up in a tough area and had to deal with fascist thugs, violent gangs and anti Semites. On the street he learned to distinguish between sporting techniques and real life self defense. Imi Lichtenfeld began to incorporate techniques from different styles to form an effective approach to self defense to enable the Jewish community to defend itself against Fascist militias. This would form the basis of Israeli Krav Maga training.
When Europe became unbearable for Jews, Imi left. He eventually ended up in the Land of Israel, then controlled by the British. Lichtenfeld’s talents were noticed and he was assigned to teach unarmed combat. Krav Maga includes techniques form judo, jujitsu, karate, Western Boxing and elements of wrestling. With the establishment of the State of Israel Krav Maga was adopted as the official fighting style of the Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Police Force.
Krav Maga is free flowing; all styles of punching, kicking, chokes, take-downs are employed with the aim of neutralizing the enemy in the shortest amount of time possible. Unlike competitive martial arts, where limits are placed on the type of techniques used or the areas targeted, Krav Maga has no limitations. Groin shots, eyes, throat, face, are all fair game. Therefore Krav Maga does not hold competitions and does not seek to be represented in the Olympics . The danger to the participants would simply be too great.
Krav Maga is designed for self defense, combat, and worst case scenarios. A major part of the training involves the ability to handle such stressful situations, both physically and mentally. The style is easy to learn and apply. Krav Maga chooses simple movements that are natural to the body, based on instincts that are already established within us.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Krav Maga, is the emphasis on aggressiveness no matter what, even when it is hard, even when you feel you have nothing left, and a no compromising attitude towards the enemy. Our goal is to neutralize the enemy; the specific technique does not matter.
Krav Maga is taught to all units of the Israel Defense Forces , the amount depends upon the unit. As such nearly everyone in Israel has some Krav Maga training. Depending on the unit, knife and gun disarms are also taught.