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Imi Lichenfield

Israeli Tactical Self Defense

History of Krav Maga

Krav Maga literally means "Combat – Contact" or "Close Quarter Combat". The roots of modern Krav maga began in Czechoslovakia in the 1930's with Imi Lichtenfeld, an expert in boxing and wrestling. He was influenced by his father, Shmuel, a detective and Defensive Tactics instructor with the local police force. Shmuel Lichtenfeld was known as a tough officer with a reputation for arresting the most violent criminals.

Young Imi grew up in a tough area and had to deal with fascist thugs, violent gangs and anti Semites. On the street he learned to distinguish between sporting techniques and real life self defense.

Imi Lichtenfeld began to incorporate techniques from different styles to form an effective approach to self defense to enable the Jewish community to defend itself against Fascist militias. This would form the basis of Israeli Krav Maga training.

In 1948, when the State of Israel was founded and the IDF was formed, Imi became Chief Instructor for Physical Fitness and Krav Maga at the IDF School of Combat Fitness. He served in the IDF for about 20 years, during which time he developed and refined his unique method for self-defense and hand-to-hand combat. It was his job to see to it that the troops of the IDF including the Special Forces units were expertly skilled in hand to hand combat. During this time, Imi further refined his face to face fighting techniques (now referred to as Krav Maga

Upon retiring from the IDF in the early 60`s, Imi began adapting the style for civilian use. He established two schools, one in Netanya and one in Tel Aviv.

The work in the following years and up to present was to design the system to confront every day attacks and street confrontation problems. Imi and his senior students set about designing Krav Maga as a complete system, and Imi's close assistant from the 80's and until his death, Eyal Yanilov, was put in charge of tying the loose ends together and making Krav Maga into a respected martial art system.

New problems appeared and Imi set about finding a solution to them, with the help of his senior instructors. The core of the system has always been simplicity and effectiveness, and Imi was always looking for the easy solution to most problems. Many changes were made to the system both technically and visual, but in all the work that was done Imi never forgot the base of the system, simplicity, effectiveness and realism

Imi and his senior instructors formed the first Krav Maga Association in 1978, and in 1992 Imi expressed a desire to make an international federation to help spread his system to the world. In 1995 his dream came true and the International Krav Maga Federation was formed in Netanya, Imi’s home place.

Sadly on Jan 8th 1998, Imi Licthenfeld, aged 88, passed away.

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