Introduction

Few combat systems have a history as rich or as epic as Krav Maga. If you are interested in the development of both the founder and the system I sincerely hope your time wont be wasted here.  However, there is the catch.

We have written this page in much the same way as a book. Its text rich, image poor and requires several minutes to read.

It has broken the usual conventions of web design. We assumed the reader is interested in content rather than graphics. Secondly we assumed the reader has an attention span somewhat larger than a goldfish (an unusual practice in web design). This seems to have worked fairly well resulting in almost 50 000 readers in the first month each spending an average of almost 7 minutes on this page. This is quite remarkable for a web page. So,  if you are still reading, well done, it is to you this page is dedicated.

Finally, we have tried to keep the material as accurate as possible. We are always pleased to correct factual errors.

Paul Grey

Training Director – The British Krav Maga Association. Trainer – Krav Maga Bristol

 history of krav magaKrav Maga is a generic Hebrew term relating to the practice of hand to hand combat. More specifically the Israeli approach to hand to hand combat as a form of survival training rather than as martial arts training. The Krav Maga system became an international phenomena in the 1990′s primarily as a result of work done by Instructors Darren Levene and Eyal Yanilov .   Eyal and Darren were by no means the only well known  instructors of Krav Maga,  in terms of shaping the general image of krav Maga and popularising the system; these 2 men are certainly most significant. Other figures have spear headed Krav Maga’s advancement internationally particularly  David Kahn, Haim Zut, Richard Dioueb, & Haim Gideon.
evolution of krav magaKrav Maga evolved in Eastern Europe, in modern day Czechoslovakia. Loose concepts and ideas were developed by the founder (Imi Lichtenfeldt – Sder Or) and later developed in his time as the head of the Israeli Defense Forces physical training wings.Imrich “Imi” Lichtenfeld, was born in 1910 in Budapest in Hungary but raised in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava (modern day Czechoslovakia). His father, Samuel Lichtenfeld, had been a former circus performer and wrestler in his younger years and ran “Hercules Gym in Bratislava. Hercules gym taught wrestling, boxing, gymnastics and weight lifting and would have been a powerful shaping force in the life of the young Imi. Samuel encouraged the young Imi to participate in a range of athletic activities, including gymnastics, wrestling, and boxing. Imi won a number of championships in a variety of sporting events, achieving exceptional accomplishment in boxing and wrestling. Between 1929 and 1939, Imi was one of Europe’s most successful wrestlers.
samuel lichtenfeldtWhilst researching this article, I found the records of Imi’s father, Samuel. Samuel  perished at Aushwitz. See Yad Vashem  P.GSamuel Lichtenfeldt was an interesting figure who joined a traveling circus at only 13 years old. Samuel spent the next 20 years with the circus specialised in Boxing, wrestling and feats of strength. Samuel eventually left the circus and joined the Police where later he became Chief of Police.During his time with the Police Samuel became famous as the man who captured the most violent criminals and murderers. Samuel taught various arrest techniques to his fellow Police officers and emphasised high moral standards in his Policemen. While serving, Samuel taught a range of techniques that today seem mild and not overly effective, but which would have been in keeping with expectations and needs of the time.
samuel lichtenfelkdt - yad vashemDocumentation relating to Samuel courtesy of Yad VashemSamuel opened one of Europe’s first gyms (Hercules) and taught the local police force restraint techniques. Imi’s early exposure to sports and training set the scene later in his life to develop the hand-to-hand and conditioning skills of the IDF (Israel Defence Force). Under his fathers watchful eye Imi learned Boxing, Wrestling, Gymnastics and Swimming. Imis excelled in wrestling where in 1928 he went on to win the Slovakian National Youth Wrestling Championship. In 1929 Imi went on to win the Slovakian Wrestling Championship as an adult at Welter weight. In that same year Imi also won the Slovakian National Boxing championship and an International gymnastics Championship. Imi became a mainstay of the Slovakian national Wrestling scene as a trainer and competitor and dominated the welter weight wrestling scene in Slovakia and Europe for a decade.
street violence in the 1930'sEvents in Nuremburg, Germany began to effect Imis’ life. The Nuremburg laws declared Jewish peoples an inferior race who were not afforded state protection. In other words the jewish population lost all legal rights and entitlements. If they were attacked, raped, robbed or murdered they had no legal rights. Any citizen could treat any Jew as they wish with no legal consequences.
From 1936 the fascist led persecution of jews really esculated. After mounting exposure to the Nazi street attacks Imi became involved in the street fighting against the local “Storm troopers”. The so called gangs of young fascists who brutalised the Jewish community. Imi and his companions fought to keep the fascists out of the jewish areas. Brutal gang fights followed using clubs, bottles knives or anything else to available in the environment, including the occasional firearm.

To Israel – The