THE ROOTS OF THE SYS­TEM

Tactical World - - Buyer's Guide -

To un­der­stand the Krav Maga mind­set, you have to know it roots and how and why it was cre­ated.

Dur­ing the 1930s Imre (Imi) Licht­en­feld, Krav Maga’s found­ing fa­ther, honed his fight­ing skills on the streets of Bratislava, Slo­vakia. Re­fin­ing his skills to a high level was a ne­ces­sity to or­der to pro­tect him­self and his Jewish neigh­bors from a grow­ing num­ber of lo­cal fas­cist thugs. He was in­volved in many fights to help stop anti-semitic groups from ter­ror­iz­ing the Jewish com­mu­nity in his city. These fights helped him re­al­ize the dif­fer­ence be­tween sport and street fight­ing. It was dur­ing this time that the foun­da­tion for the Krav Maga prin­ci­ples was laid out.

Grow­ing up in Bratislava, Imi spent most of his time com­pet­ing in various sports such as gym­nas­tics, box­ing and wrestling. As a nat­u­ral ath­lete, he earned na­tional and in­ter­na­tional awards in all three dis­ci­plines. How­ever, his great­est in­flu­ence was his fa­ther, Sa­muel, a po­lice of­fi­cer and self-de­fense in­struc­tor. His fa­ther served 30 years as Chief De­tec­tive In­spec­tor. He be­came well known for his con­sid­er­able record for ar­rest­ing par­tic­u­larly danger­ous crim­i­nals. In his spare time Sa­muel taught lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cers various self-de­fense tech­niques at “Her­cules” the first gym in Bratislava, which he owned. Be­yond the phys­i­cal de­mands of train­ing, Sa­muel would con­stantly em­pha­size to his stu­dents the need for proper moral con­duct when deal­ing with the pub­lic and sus­pected crim­i­nals.

By the late 1930s, Hitler’s Nazi Ger­many had turned Europe into a bat­tle­field and made it a danger­ous place for Jews. Imi’s fights to pro­tect his fam­ily and neigh­bors rapidly be­came un­pop­u­lar with the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, and he was forced to leave his home­land in 1940. Af­ter sev­eral years of travel, Imi ar­rived in Palestine in a part of the coun­try that was later to be­come Is­rael. He joined the Ha­ganah, a para­mil­i­tary or­ga­ni­za­tion in the Jewish com­mu­nity. Dur­ing this time he be­gan teach­ing sol­diers ba­sic self-de­fense tech­niques. It was this group that fought suc­cess­fully for Is­raeli in­de­pen­dence to be rec­og­nized as a sov­er­eign state.

In 1948 the fledg­ling Is­raeli gov­ern­ment asked Imi to de­velop an ef­fec­tive sys­tem of self-de­fense and hand to hand com­bat, which later be­came Krav Maga. The Ha­ganah was even­tu­ally in­cor­po­rated in the Is­raeli De­fense Force, and Imi be­came the Chief In­struc­tor for the mil­i­tary school for phys­i­cal train­ing and Krav Maga.

Dur­ing the 1950s Krav Maga was tested on the bat­tle­field. Over the 20 years Imi served in the army, he re­fined his unique sys­tem of self-de­fense and hand-to-hand com­bat. He trained the in­struc­tors and sol­diers of the IDF’S elite units. Since Is­rael was in a con­stant state of war with its neigh­bors the tac­tics and prin­ci­ples he de­vel­oped were al­ways be­ing tested. Krav Maga is not a the­o­ret­i­cal “prac­tice;” it is a real ap­pli­ca­tion of de­fense that is quite lit­er­ally bat­tle tested.

In 1964 Krav Maga took a leap forward when it was for­mally of­fered to all Is­raeli ci­ti­zens. Af­ter his re­tire­ment from the mil­i­tary Imi de­voted his time and en­ergy to adapt­ing Krav Maga to ev­ery­day Is­raeli life. Be­cause Krav Maga was cre­ated to be a dy­namic sys­tem, un­bound to a tra­di­tional mar­tial arts struc­ture, Imi was able to ad­just his sys­tem to sup­ply so­lu­tions to or­di­nary men, women and chil­dren who might face a vi­o­lent en­counter.

The sys­tem spread rapidly thanks to the team of Imi’s cer­ti­fied in­struc­tors.

In 1978 Imi and sev­eral of his stu­dents cre­ated the Krav Maga as­so­ci­a­tion. The sole pur­pose of this non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion was to pro­mote the teach­ing of Krav Maga in Is­rael and through­out the world.

In 1981 my clos­est men­tor in Krav Maga, Darren Levine, was in­vited to at­tend the first in­ter­na­tional In­struc­tor’s course at Win­gate In­sti­tute for Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion in Ne­tanya, Is­rael. A to­tal of 23 del­e­gates were in­vited from various cities in the United States to at­tend this course. Imi who at that time was 71 years old su­per­vised the course. Krav Maga lead in­struc­tors Shike Barak, Eyal Yanilov, and Reu­vin Moi­mon taught the course. Darren was cho­sen to be part of this group be­cause of his mar­tial arts and box­ing back­ground as well as his in­volve­ment in the phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram at the Heschel Day School near Los Angeles. It is at Heschel Day School where I would be­gin my life long pas­sion for teach­ing and train­ing in Krav Maga.

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