Krav Maga is becoming increasingly popular. The martial art is, like hardly any other focused on self-defense. But how did Krav Maga originate and what role does the martial art from Israel play today, in this article you will learn.

Krav Maga Geschichte

History of Hungarian Imrich Lichtenfeld

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Imrich Lichtenfeld (also Imi Lichtenfeld, Hebrew: Imi Sde-Or) was a successful wrestler and boxer in his younger years and had also learned some techniques from jiu-jitsu. His father was a police self-defense instructor and taught him many things.

World war and flight from Europe

Against heightened anti-Semitic riots in Bratislava towards the end of the 1930s, Lichtenfeld set up a kind of militia to protect the common population from arbitrary attacks. In 1940, like many other great figures, he fled Slovakia and Europe, escaping the arbitrary justice of the German Reich.

Close combat lessons with Israeli army

After his escape, Lichtenfeld moved to Palestine, where he first taught hand-to-hand combat in the underground organization Haganah and, after the establishment of the State of Israel, in the Israeli army. In doing so, he used his knowledge from various contact combat sports and his time in the Bratislava militia to create a new self-defense system.

Focus on effective self-defense

Lichtenfeld eschewed “beautiful” or “impressive” fighting techniques and specialized his martial art to what works and can be learned by anyone. The Krav Maga genesis was complete and a new, effective self-defense system was created. Until his death in 1998, Lichtenfeld never stopped questioning and improving the system.

Foundation of International Krav Maga Federation

The spread of Krav Maga has increased greatly in the last two decades. In 1996, Eyal Yanilov, who had studied under Lichtenfeld personally, founded the “International Krav Maga Federation” (IKMF) at the request of his teacher.

This has, in contrast to the large associations of other martial arts, not the goal of organizing championships, but should serve the spread of the SV system. Today the IKMF is under the direction of Avi Moyal.

Foundation of other federations

In 2005, the American organization split off and formed its own association called “Krav Maga Worldwide”. Like the IKMF, they also operate globally, but cannot yet boast such a dense network. In Germany, for example, there is not a single school that belongs to Krav Maga Worldwide.

In 2010, the founder of the IKMF Eyal Yanilov separated from the organization for unknown reasons and founded the “Krav Maga Global” (KMG), another world association. This split organization of Krav Maga naturally affects the speed of its spread.

Conclusion: Krav Maga today

Tournaments and championships do not exist in Krav Maga. It is a self-defense system, which was created by Lichtenfeld to be able to defend himself in an emergency and not to measure his strength with other people for fame. From time to time a fighter of Krav Maga is represented in one of the championships, which organize duels between mixed fighting styles (Taekwondoin against Judoka, Jiu-Jitsuka against Kickboxer). However, these tournaments are viewed very critically by traditional martial artists, because it’s a bit like comparing whiskey to wine.

In our comparison of different martial arts, Krav Maga is also at the top, probably because it is suitable for children as well as seniors.

Krav Maga has developed from an Israeli martial art into a worldwide movement. It is widely spread and taught by various schools. Thus, it can be said that Hungarian Imrich Lichtenfeld has created a martial art that shines less for its long history, but all the more for its applicability in everyday life.