The History of Krav Maga

Krav maga is a hybrid military self-defence system from Israel. The system of Krav Maga was founded by Imi Lichtenfeld and was based upon Imi’s own street fighting experiences in 1930’s Bratislava (part of modern Slovenia). Imi acquired a good deal of street fighting experience whilst attempting to defend the Jewish quarter of Bratislava from fascist groups.

The unprecedented level of violence experienced by the Jewish population at this time is hard for us to comprehend today. Shootings, clubbing and stabbing of the Jewish populace were common place and unpunished. For some these acts were considered patriotic and celebrated.

After a number of serious run in’s with local fascist groups, Imi became of interest to the authorities and recognised that his chances of survival were getting slim. Imi fled Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and arrived in Israel in 1942 where he joined the Czech legion of the British Army fighting Nazi’s. Later, before Israel’s independence from Britain, he began teaching close-quarters combat to Israel’s first fighting units the Haganah.

After Israel’s independence in 1948, Imi Lichtenfeld became the first instructor of physical training for the Israeli Defense Forces. His system of hand-to-hand training evolved and became known as krav maga, meaning “contact combat” in Hebrew.

As Imi retired from the IDF he began teaching civil krav maga which became increasing popular with the Israeli population. Eventually, the merits of this simple, reality-based system became recognised abroad.

As a result of the efforts of Instructors like Darryn Levene and Eyal Yanilov, krav maga expanded internationally becoming the most popular reality-based system of self-defence training in the world today. At the time of writing, Krav Maga remains the longest standing system of military hand to hand training in modern history.

Take part in Krav Maga

You can take part in Krav Maga classes, courses and Bootcamps at British Krav Maga Association schools across the UK. Try your hand at krav maga through a free ‘Try Krav Maga’ class at a BKMA club near you. We have a Club Finder and some great instructors across the country who can help you get started and find a way of training that suits you.