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Krav Maga is the official hand-to-hand combat system of the Israeli Military. It is not a martial art, it is a self-defense system. There are no forms or katas. "Krav Maga" in Hebrew literally translates to "contact combat". The goal is to neutralize the threat by any means necessary, attacking sensitive and vulnerable areas of the body.

The system's creator Imi Lichtenfeld was born in 1910 in Budapest, Hungary and grew up in Bratislova (Slovakia). He was an avid wrestler, boxer, and gymnist.

imi lichtenfeld, krav maga, Israel, IDF, Israeli defense forces
Imi Lichtenfeld, Founder of Krav Maga

In the mid-1930's anti-Semitism was spreading in Czechoslovakia (formerly Austria/Hungary)and gangs of anti-Sematic thugs and national socialist party members were attacking Jews in their neighborhoods. Imi became the leader of a group of Jewish boxers and wrestlers determined to protect their community, though they quickly came to the conclusion that these competition sports were no match for brutal street fights with no rules. It was at this time Imi began studying and evaluating techniques and ideas that would eventually develop into Krav Maga.

Imi was an avid wrestler, boxer, and gymnist

Imi fled the increasing anti-Semitism of Czecholslovakia for Europe in 1940 and wound up in what would eventually become Israel. In 1948 when the state of Israel was formed and the IDF (Israel Defense Forces)was founded, Imi became Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga. Over the 20 years that he served in the IDF, Imi continued to refine the hand--to-hand combat techniques. In the 1980's several Americans began learning Krav Maga, and brought it back with them to the U.S.



Krav Maga practitioners are taught to avoid harm and neutralize attackers by any means necessary. Avoiding harm and ending problem situations with speed are paramount. This may involve pre-emptive strikes or the utilization of weapons or improvised weapons, and almost always involves techniques to vulnerable parts of the body.

Principles in Krav Maga include:

-Counterattacking as soon as possible (or attacking pre-emptively)

-Attacking while defending

-Targeting attacks to the body's most vulnerable points, such as the eyes, neck or throat, face, solar plexus, groin, ribs, knee, foot, fingers, etc.

-Maximum effectiveness and efficiency in order to neutralize the opponent as quickly as possible.

-Maintaining awareness of surroundings while dealing with the threat in order to look for escape routes, further attackers, objects that could be used to defend or help attack, and so on.

-Attacking until the threat is neutralized and escaping as quickly as possible.

Training also emphasizes situational awareness to develop an understanding of one's surroundings, learning to understand the psychology of a street confrontation, and identifying potential threats before an attack occurs. It may also cover ways to deal with physical and verbal methods to avoid violence whenever possible. 

There are no forms or katas in Krav Maga, and it is not done for sport or competition. There are no rules in an attack or street fight, and the system emphasizes fighting "dirty" so that one may go home safe.

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