Krav Maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld forever holds rank as the number one Krav legend. He originally designed the Krav Maga self defense and fighting system for the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). During the 1960s, the IDF gave Imi the approval to teach Krav Maga to civilians in the State of Israel.
In 1981, Imi supervised the first International Instructors Course at Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports in Netanya, Israel. During the intensive six week course, Imi befriended and bonded with a young American and future Krav legend from Los Angeles, California named Darren Levine.
Click the thumbnail above to explore Imi Lichtenfeld's self defense classic.
Eighteen years later, Darren would open the first Krav Maga training center of it's kind in the world in West Los Angeles. Today, Darren's company Krav Maga Worldwide has over 240 licensed locations in the United States and various countries.
Imi Lichtenfeld was born to a Jewish-Hungarian family during the early 20th century on May 26, 1910. His family settled in Bratislava, Slovakia where his father, Samuel Lichtenfeld, served on the police department as chief inspector of the city’s detective unit. His father also owned a jujitsu school and taught self defense techniques to fellow police officers and ordinary civilians.
As a youth, Imi possessed natural athleticism. Under his father’s direction and guidance, Imi developed his physical talents and eventually achieved status as a national and international champion in wrestling, boxing and gymnastics. During the 1930s, as Adolph Hitler's Nazi Germany organized anti-Semitic riots that terrorized Jewish communities across Europe, Imi honed his fighting skills with fellow boxers and wrestlers in his Jewish neighborhood as they defended themselves and their neighbors against Hitler youth gangs.
Imi quickly learned from his violent encounters on the streets that real contact combat involved many life-threatening situations that went beyond his sports fighting skills, such as reacting to weapons and facing multiple attackers. As a result, he began to develop defensive tactics and hand-to-hand combat techniques that were practical to learn, quick to master, and brutally effective on the streets.
In 1940, the occupation of his country by Adolph Hitler's Nazi Germany forced Imi to leave his home and set him on a wandering journey that led him to joining the Haganah, a paramilitary organization that fought for Jewish independence.
The Hanganah's leadership quickly recognized Imi's expertise in real contact combat and assigned him to train other soldiers in defensive tactics and hand-to-hand combat. In 1948, after the State of Israel was founded, Imi's reputation as a warrior led the new government to ask him to develop a fighting system for the Israel Defense Forces.
After the Haganah eventually merged with the IDF, Imi became the chief instructor of physical fitness and hand-to-hand combat at the military's combat school. During his long, illustrious military career, Imi dedicated much of his personal time to improving and fine-tuning the Krav Maga self defense and fighting system for dangerous and deadly contact combat on the battlefield.
In 1964, Imi retired from the IDF and began to teach Krav Maga to Israeli civilians. He adapted and modified the Krav Maga self defense system so that any ordinary man, woman or child could learn quickly and proficiently defensive tactics that could save his or her life in violent encounters on the street.
Imi opened a training center in Tel Aviv and another one in Netanya where he taught civilians and police officers. He also built teams of highly trained Krav Maga instructors with accreditation credentials from himself and the Israeli Ministry of Education, the governmental branch that oversees public education institutions in the State of Israel.
passed away on January 8, 1998 toward the end of the 20th century at
the age of 83. During his lifetime, Imi helped save countless lives
of men, women and children in the State of Israel and around the
world with his easy-to-learn, easy-to-remember and lethally effective
street defense system.
Today, in death as in life, Imi’s legacy of saving lives through self defense education with Krav Maga continues to spread around the world through krav legend Darren Levine and countless others that Imi directly influenced during his lifetime.
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