Krav Maga History
Krav Maga /krɑːv məˈɡɑː/ (Hebrew: קרב מגע [ˈkʁav maˈɡa], lit. "contact combat") is a noncompetitive eclectic self-defense system developed in Europe that involves striking techniques, wrestling and grappling. Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and extremely efficient, brutal counter-attacks.It was derived from street-fighting skills developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, who made use of his training as a boxer and wrestler, as a means of defending the Jewish quarter against fascist groups in Bratislav in the mid- to late-1930s. In the late-1940s, following his immigration to Israel, he began to provide lessons on combat training to what was to become the IDF, who went on to develop the system that became known as Krav Maga. It has since been refined for three applications: civilian, police and military.The military version is taught to regular and special forces in Israel.
Krav Maga has a philosophy emphasizing threat neutralization, simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers, and aggression.Krav Maga is used by IDF Special Forces units and several closely related variations have been developed and adopted by law enforcement and intelligence organizations, Mossad and Shin Bet. There are several organizations teaching variations of Krav Maga internationally.
A key principle of Krav Maga is finishing a fight as quickly as possible and therefore all attacks are aimed towards the most vulnerable parts of the body (e.g. face, neck, groin, knee etc). Because there are no sporting rules, individuals that are trained in Krav Maga are not limited to techniques that avoid severely injuring their opponents. However training and sparring drills provide maximum safety to the students by the use of protective equipment and the use of reasonable force. For example kicking to the groin during sparring is common place but groin protection must be worn and students should demonstrate due diligence with regards for their partners' safety. Students learn to defend against all variety of attacks before engaging in full contact sparring. Students are taught to respond to attacks in the quickest and most efficient way; a common lesson taught is 'always use the nearest tool for the job'. This basically means use whichever limb is closest to your attacker at the time and whichever feels most natural. Men and women generally undergo the same drills.It has no sporting federation and there are no official uniforms such as a gi.Usual training attire consists of a t-shirt and loose fitting trousers. Krav Maga is also one of the few martial arts in which footwear is habitually worn due to it being 'reality based training'. Most organizations recognize progress through training with rank badges, different levels, and belts.
General principles include:
Counter attacking as soon as possible (or attacking preemptively).
Targeting attacks to the body's most vulnerable points such as the eyes, jaw, throat, groin, knee, etc.
Neutralizing the opponent as quickly as possible by responding with an unbroken stream of counter attacks and if necessary a take down/joint break.
Maintaining awareness of surroundings while dealing with the threat in order to look for escape routes, further attackers, objects that could be used to defend or help attack and so on.
Basic training entails a warm up, learning the essential pressure points and how to approach and control an opponent utilizing the application of force. Students learn how to execute strikes and kicks including punches, hammer fists, elbows, various kicks and knees. Students learn defenses against takedowns, chokes, bear hugs, arm bars and various other possible attacks. Training also includes learning to defend against various weapons including knives, bats, guns etc. Pressure drills are also common so that students can experience being attacked by multiple attackers. Other pressure tests include students closing their eyes and then having to react to a variety of potential threats. Fitness and endurance training is also incorporated into regular classes.
Training can also cover situational awareness to develop an understanding of one's surroundings and potentially threatening circumstances before an attack occurs. It may also cover ways to deal with potentially violent situations, and physical and verbal methods to avoid violence whenever possible.
Krav Maga was developed in the Israeli Defense Forces primarily by Imrich Lichtenfeld, and Eli Avikzar his successor as the Chief Krav Maga Instructor in the Fighting Fitness Academy.
Upon his retirement Imi opened a school to teach a civilian form of Krav Maga, including a version suitable for youth.The first students to receive a black belt 1st Dan were Eli Avikzar, Rafi Elgarisi, Haim Zut (Haim Gidon was a student of Eli Avikzar), Shmuel Kurzviel, Haim Hakani, Shlomo Avisira, Vicktor Bracha, Yaron Lichtenstein, Avner Hazan and Miki Asulin.
In 1978, Lichtenfeld founded the non-profit Israeli Krav Maga Association (IKMA) with several senior instructors. Eli Avikzar was elected to the head of rank committee and Colonel David Ben Asher was elected to the Executive Director while Imrich Lichtenfeld was elected a president 10th dan. Since Imrich at his old age was giving black belts to foreign students without Eli Avikzar's approval, Eli resigned from the association and created Krav Magen Israeli. Thereafter various civilian krav maga association were created. Lichtenfeld died in January 1998 in Netanya, Israel.
When Krav Maga started to spread beyond the borders of Israel, there arose a need to found an international organization. This happened mostly because the initial Krav Maga association existing at the time was divided and not functioning efficiently, due to dissension amongst the higher graded instructors. Imrich Lictenfeld students and second generation of students of Imrich's students resulted in forming a new international Krav Maga federation with the support of his most loyal students and respected instructors, including Eyal Yanilov, Gabi Noah, Avi Moyal, and Eli Ben-Ami.
Prior to 1980, all experts in Krav Maga lived in Israel and trained under the Israeli Krav Maga Association. That year marks the beginning of contact between Israeli Krav Maga experts and interested students in the United States. In 1981, a group of six Krav Maga instructors traveled to the US to demonstrate their system, primarily to local Jewish Community Centers. The New York field office of the FBI and the FBI's main training center at Quantico, Virginia saw it and expressed interest. The result was a visit by 22 people from the US to Israel in the summer of 1981 to attend a basic Krav Maga instructor course. The graduates from this course returned to the US and began to establish training facilities in their local areas. Additional students traveled to Israel in 1984 and again in 1986 to become instructors. At the same time, instructors from Israel continued to visit the US. In 1985 Boaz Aviram the former Third Israeli Defense Forces Fighting Fitness Academy Chief Instructor after Eli Avikzar immigrated to the US. He started selectively training various law enforcement Individuals. Law enforcement training in the US began in 1985.Many United States-based instructors have travelled to Israel to further learn Krav Maga. These instructors take the knowledge and teachings back to students who are based in the United States but want to learn from Israeli-taught instructors. David Kahn is the IKMA US Chief Instructor who is based in Hamilton, New Jersey, Krav Maga Worldwide US Chief Instructor Darren Levine is based in Los Angeles, California, IKMA, Instructor Robb Hamic is based in Austin, Texas and IKM, Instructor Robert Amos is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Krav Maga is currently being taught as a primary hand-to-hand combat technique at some police departments in the United States.
Krav Maga has been growing in popularity since the early 00's with more schools opening up in China, the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, South Africa and a number of other European countries as well as Australia and South America. Krav Maga's growing popularity is due to a number of reasons; organizations such as the KMG, FEKM (European Federation of Krav Maga), IKMF, and TKM (Tactical Krav Maga) have been promoting it a lot across Europe and various other parts of the world. TV shows such as 24, The Simpsons, NCIS and Archer, as well as the films Taken and Enough have featured it. Krav Maga is being utilized by a number of professional organizations such as the IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet, FBI, and DEA which has led to increased popularity with civilians as well.
All Israel Defense Forces soldiers, including all Israeli Special Forces units,learn Krav Maga as part of their basic training. Further, Krav Maga is the defensive tactics system used to train the Israeli Police, Israeli Intelligence and all Security Divisions. Krav Maga is also taught to civilians, military, law enforcement and security agencies around the world. Schools can be found everywhere from Australia and the UK to South Africa. The International Krav Maga Federation in Netanya north of Tel Aviv trains some of the world's top bodyguards, who use Krav Maga as a trade fighting art since it includes several exercises in evacuating a VIP through a hostile crowd. Also, the tactics for dispatching several opponents quickly is vital for personal protection agents.Krav Maga is also being deployed in the Palestinian territories, particularly for its versatility, where Israeli soldiers adapt it for crowd control purposes.
Krav Maga has further been refined for different organisations and the skillsets required for their disciplines. More specific applications exist for the army (attack orientated), the police (tailored more towards threat neutralization) and self-defense for civilians.
Additionally, the civilian curriculum for Krav Maga in the U.S. has branched out into distinct styles: a more American curriculum may focus on fitness and cardio workouts whereas its Israeli counterpart emphasizes understanding the dynamics of the hostile environment, focusing on the psychology of street confrontation, efficiency (in dealing with multiple attacker scenarios) and threat neutralization.