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What Is Krav Maga?

krav maga

Thanks to the Krav Maga Institute for the image.

I’ll confess:  The first time I ever heard of Krav Maga was in the animated movie, Despicable Me 2. Maybe that’s because I live in the midwest, or maybe it’s because I have been preoccupied with having kids. However, it wasn’t until they talked about it in Despicable Me 2 that I really felt embarrassed by my ignorance.

Something had to be done! First, I asked my husband what it was. Then, I consulted my know-it-all friend, Google, to make sure I got the full scoop.

What Is Krav Maga?

The Beginning

According to its official website, Krav Maga is “the official combat system of the Israeli Defense force.” It was created in 1910 by Imi Lichtenfeld when he learned self-defense from his father.

“Imi grew up in Bratislava, but was actually born in Hungary. A natural athlete, he earned national and international awards in gymnastics, boxing, and wrestling.

However, Imi’s greatest influence was his father, Samuel, a police officer and self defense instructor. Samuel started his career as a circus acrobat and wrestler, but later entered the police department and served for 3 decades as Chief Detective Inspector. He became well known for his considerable arrest record, particularly of dangerous criminals.

When not on the trail of violent felons, Samuel taught various self defense techniques to the local policemen at “Hercules,” the first gym in Bratislava, which he owned. In his training, Samuel constantly emphasized the need for proper moral conduct when dealing with the public and suspected criminals alike.”

In the 1930s, Imi Lichtenfeld practiced the skills that he learned from his father by protecting himself and his neighbors from “local fascist thugs.” It was during this time that he honed the principles of Krav Maga.

As Self-Defense for Soldiers

As Adolph Hitler’s power grew, tensions rose in Bratislava. Soon, Lichtenfeld left. “After several years of travel, Imi arrived in Israel, which was then called Palestine. He joined the Haganah, a paramilitary organization of the Jewish community and fought to create the independent state of Israel. During this time, he began teaching soldiers basic self defense techniques.”

In 1948, Israel formed, and Lichtenfeld became the Chief Instructor for the military school for Physical Training and Krav Maga. Since Israel was constantly in combat with its neighbors, Lichtenfeld’s ideas were continuously tested and refined for precision and effectiveness.

As Self-Defense for Citizens

When he retired in 1964, Lichtenfeld worked on adapting Krav Maga for citizens. He wanted to create a program that any man, woman, or child could use to fight off an aggressor. This is essentially the program taught today.

Learn More

Multiple countries offer instruction in Krav Maga. The District of Columbia and 38 states have licensed affiliates. You can find instructional books and DVDs. Of course, if you want to learn first hand, you can go to either of their two training centers in California.

Have you tried Krav Maga? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.

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