HISTORY OF KRAV MAGA

Who, where and why was Krav Maga created

1940s: war, violence and death. The need for a way to stay alive was urgent. The strongest, with a bit of luck, survived, the others did not.

And it was from this need to fight for life that a man, Imi Lichtenfeld ((Z”L), created a method to survive in the midst of all that horror. He realized that all the combat techniques and fighting were worthless in face of that reality. Using as his tool only his own body, as an enlightened being, he realized that this “tool” could be very powerful; he understood that his natural movements could be worked for self-defense and combat and that his weaknesses and sensibilities were also there for his enemies and opponents, after all, the human body is the same.

With this conclusion, he created a body and spiritual technique that would be efficient for anyone, regardless of strength or fitness, age or sex: to defend his life with what he already possessed, his mind and his body.

In the middle of 1940, Krav Maga was born by the hands of Imi Lichtenfeld (Z”L) in Israel, shortly before its independence. A way of life for the man of the new times, which brings solutions to any kind of violence, both armed or unarmed, against one or more aggressors and even against terrorist attacks and hostage situations.

In 1948, with the independence of the State of Israel, Krav Maga became the only defense philosophy adopted by the Tzahal, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), police and secret service. In fact, the name Krav Maga arose in the mid-1950s, being called until then simply self-defense, or even self-defense by Imi. Initially, its techniques were restricted only to the Israeli military elite, but from 1964 onwards the teaching was given to the military in general and to the civilian population within the State of Israel.

It was at this time that its creator opened two gyms, one in Netanya and one in Tel Aviv, with the goal of beginning to teach the civilian population his techniques. And then, early in 1968, a 3-year-old boy appears at the Tel Aviv gym to begin the training in Krav Maga. His name? Kobi Lichtenstein.

However, the class was not for children and the little one would only stay for a few lessons, for experience, in order to understand that this was not yet for him. However, this period of experience extended, and extended, and extended even more. Today, Master Kobi already has more than 50 years of Krav Maga.

In 1971, Imi gave the first black belt to Eli Avigzar and created the first instructor course. In 1978, he founded the Israeli Krav Maga Association.  Then, in the 80’s, Imi, with the concern of continuing his work, transmitting it to the rest of the world and to the next generations, decided to select a small group that would be trained and prepared for this purpose, of which Master Kobi is an integral part. In 1987, the teaching of Krav Maga was released outside Israel.

Thus, in 1990, the first black belt left Israel to spread the Krav Maga: Master Kobi arrives in Brazil as the sole representative of the art in Latin America.

The following year, he opens the first continent’s Krav Maga gym, Top Defense, which is now the official headquarters of the South American Krav Maga Federation. And so began the Krav Maga in that corner of the world.

Gradually, the number of students grew and then came the 1st instructor´s course, in 1993. In 2000,the first black belts. And in 2010, we held the biggest self- defense class in history, joining the Guinness Book of World Records. Today, we are proud to say that we are the largest Krav Maga Federation in the world.

The creation of Krav Maga:

Why by Imi, why in Israel?

The emergence of the Krav Maga was the natural result of the merging of two stories: the story of Imi, the creator of Krav Maga, and the history of the State of Israel.

Since he was a small child, in the family environment, Imi learned the importance of being active in society. His father, a dedicated detective, combat instructor of the secret police, endeavored to carry out his mission, having  been awarded for being the inspector who most effected arrests of dangerous criminals in his country. The definition of right and wrong, the duty and the pleasure of helping others were basic values ​​of his education.

As a sportsman, he sought to overcome the limits of his body; as a fighter, concluded that the defense and combat techniques that existed did not meet the needs of the streets. Techniques of gyms or rings of competitions were not worth anything in real life situations or confrontations.

In the 1930s, with fascism and Nazism growing in Europe, the streets became increasingly violent, and life had to be defended in bloody confrontations, almost daily. He had to face dozens of enemies at the same time, often alone, in a sad reality where many were injured, many died and few survived. He became leader of resistance groups that had as their weapon only their own body, and as fuel, the stubbornness of not being killed. Never.

The Middle East, in the 1940s, was living under British domination, which established clear and hard rules, using force to control the region, and manipulating the groups that lived there, provoking discord between them. For this reason, several groups organized themselves to defend the population; without arms, without contingent, but with bravery.

This was the scenery found by Imi when he arrived in Israel. Experience in real life confrontations was really important for the mission to prepare the defense groups, in a little time so that they had to face enemies who were well armed and numerous, guaranteeing the survival of the people.
And the challenge was overcome. The people survived, conquered the country`s independence, built a nation and defended themselves from all attempts of conquest; even surrounded by enemies, even against terrorist threats, even against all predictions. The Tzahal, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is world-renowned for its results, having its origin in defense groups trained by Imi, who, until his last days, was an assessor and an adviser to this powerful military institution.

A people surrounded by enemies, who stubbornly continued to fight, to survive: the cradle. The vision, ability and commitment of a natural born leader, in a scenario of war: the man. So it was, and
only then could the Krav Maga would be created.