What is Krav Maga?

Who created Krav Maga?

The founder of Krav Maga is Imrich Sde-or (Imi Lichtenfeld). Imi was born in 1910 in Budapest. His father, Samuel, was an acrobat and wrestler in a circus, He later became part of the police force and served many years as the Chief Detective Inspector. He became known for his arrest record that was considerable, particularly when dealing with dangerous criminals.

As a kid Imi studied wrestling, boxing, and gymnastics. In 1928 Imi won the Slovakian Youth Wrestling Championship, and in 1929 the adult championship (in the light and middle weight divisions). That year he also won the national boxing championship and an international gymnastics championship. During the ensuing decade, Imi’s athletic activities focused mainly on wrestling, both as a contestant and a trainer.


In the 1930’s, conditions began to change in Bratislava. Fascist and anti-Semitic groups appeared, determined to upset the public order and harm the city’s Jewish community. Imi became the un-crowned leader of a group of young Jews, most of them with a background in boxing, wrestling, and weightlifting. This group attempted to block the anti-Semitic gangs from entering the Jewish quarter and causing trouble there. In the following years Imi was forced to fight in street brawls and confrontations over and over again. It was in these fights Imi understood the difference between street confrontations and competition fighting.

Krav Maga (meaning in Hebrew “contact combat”), originally developed in Israel, is the official system of self defence and Hand-to-Hand combat employed by the Israeli Defence Forces, the Israeli National and Military Police, as well as Israeli special operations and security units. This system is also taught under the auspices of the Israeli Ministry of Education.


Provides a complete range of techniques which provides the combatants with all the means possible in order to protect and defend themselves and overpower their attackers. It consists of defence against all types of aggression – be it punches, hits, kicks, strangulations, holds, armed attacks or threats (e.g. knives, guns, sticks, grenades, etc.). The student of Krav Maga also learns to apply different methods in varying situations, both familiar and unfamiliar, which may hamper the freedom of movement, such as attacks in the dark, in a seated or horizontal position etc…

Imi Lichtenfeld demonstrating a knife defence

Hand to hand combat

Represents a more advanced stage of Krav Maga where one learns to neutralize one’s opponent rapidly and efficiently. This stage includes elements necessary for hand to hand combat situations, from combination of techniques used against assailants to tactics, from unexpected reactions to decoy attacks. It also includes the psychological dimension of combat.

Krav Maga emerged in an environment where violence, mostly of a political nature, was rife. It has had ample opportunity to be tested and improved under real-life conditions, proving itself to be an ideal means of defending oneself in the face of extreme danger. This unique training method has received international recognition as an innovative and highly practical self-defence system, and more recently has been taught to U.S. federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, as well as to different police units in South and Central America and in Europe.

Krav Maga is a modern, practical and proven system of self-defence, carefully devised or the needs of our present day dangerous and unstable world. It is characterized by a clear and logical approach to self-defence and fighting confrontations, which enables one to achieve a relatively high proficiency within a short period of time.

Krav Maga was thoroughly developed to be diversified, and thus is completely applicable to the military, law-enforcement agencies as well as civilian needs.

Guiding principles

For the IMI Krav Maga system techniques

  • Avoid injury
  • Techniques should be an extension of the body’s natural reflexes
  • Defend and counterattack in the shortest and most direct way possible
  • Strike correctly at any vulnerable point
  • Use any tool or object available nearby for your defence and counterattack
  • No rules, no limit

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