Meaning "contact combat" in Hebrew, Krav Maga is the official combat system of the Israeli military, but it is also utilized by civilians and law enforcement agencies alike to stop street violence in its tracks.
Typically, Krav Maga is considered to be somewhat more brutal and ruthless than other self-defense systems as it was designed specifically for urban, close-quarters attacks.
Assembled here are five important facts about the history of the method.
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1. Krav Maga was Created in Response to Anti-Semitic Violence
Imrich Lichtenfeld, the creator of Krav Maga, was a young Jewish man living in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. Because of the rioting of racist street gangs, Krav Maga was born out of the necessity of self-defense for Lichtenfeld and the Jewish neighborhoods he helped defend with it.
According to Krav Maga Global
, he fled the Nazi-occupied nation in 1940 and headed to Palestine where he continued to develop the practice.
2. Krav Maga was First Institutionalized by the Military of Israel in 1948
During the first Arab-Israeli war, Lichtenfeld was chosen to head up the Israeli military's close-combat training, thereby introducing Krav Maga as a form of war combat. The self-defense method remains the official combat method for the Israeli Defense Force, according to Nathan Siegel at OZY.com
3. The First Civilian Course for Krav Maga Was Not Offered Until 1972
Offered at the School for Trainers at the Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports in Israel, Krav Maga soon became a part of school curriculum for Israeli youth after this important milestone, according to the Krav Maga Federation
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4. Krav Maga Was Born From the Combined Need for Effective Self-Defense and Traditional Athletic Skills
Formed by Lichtenfeld as an answer to the Nazi street violence he was facing, Krav Maga also has a strong component of athleticism
. This is due primarily to the fact that his father, Samuel Lichtenfeld, had passed down a legacy of participating in various sports including boxing, wrestling, and gymnastics.
Imi Lichtenfeld even won some championships. At one time he was one of Europe's most successful and celebrated in the sport of wrestling.
5. In 1972, an Organization was Formed to Protect Krav Maga
Eventually, the need for a nonpartisan body for the greater good of the practice arose. So, in 1972, Federation for Krav Maga and Self-Defense — Imi's Method
While its primary purpose was to promote the purity of Krav Maga, it also acknowledged the style as the national defense method and allowed for its proper development under Lichtenfeld's watchful eye.
Two years later, the organization's name was changed to the Israeli Krav Maga Association.
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