History of Krav Maga

Created and developed by Imi Lichtenfeld and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), Krav Maga only came into civilian life in 1965. It grew outside of Israel in the early 1980’s and is now popular around the world, being used not only by Military and Security Forces but civilians as well.

Krav Maga Independent articleIn fact in an article in the Independent, Krav Maga was reported to be the self-defence training of choice amongst Hollywood stars such as J-Lo, Angelina Jolie and Matt Damon. James Bond star Daniel Craig, as well as Hollywood action men Jason Statham and Tom Cruise are also reported to have studied Krav Maga in preparation for fight sequences in their films.

Imi Lichtenfeld was born into a Hungarian Jewish family and grew up in Bratislava. His father was a Chief Inspector in the police force and owned a gymnasium where he taught self-defence. As a young man, Imi was a successful boxer and wrestler. In the 1930’s, daily violence and intimidation threatened the Jewish population of Bratislava. Imi helped to defend his Jewish community against gangs and realised that sport had little in common with real combat, and began developing a system of practical self-defence for life threatening situations. Imi moved to Israel from Slovakia after the end of World War II.

After the formation of Israel in 1948, Imi became the Chief Instructor of Physical Training and Krav Maga at the Israeli Defence Force’s (IDF) School of Combat Fitness. During this time he taught Krav Maga to the IDF’s most elite units including the Haganah, and the Special Commando units of the Palmach, and Palyam. Upon retiring in 1964 from the IDF, Imi adapted the Krav Maga style for civilian use as a self defence system . Since then Krav Maga has been adopted by the FBI, The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Beverley Hills PD – in fact more than 60 agencies in the USA alone – as well as Police and Paratrooper units around the world.

Imi’s protegee Eyal Yanilov,  Chief Instructor of Krav Maga Global, has developed the system still further with distinct applications for Military, Civilian and Third Party Protection use. All of our instructors have trained with Eyal and are certified by KMG.