Imi Lichtenfeld was a Jewish immigrant in Czechoslovakia during the 1930’s and he developed Krav Maga (close combat in Hebrew) to help his fellow Jews defend themselves from anti-Semites in Eastern Europe.
Imi was an athlete who was an expert in wrestling and boxing, plus he knew about the other martial arts before he developed his self-defense technique.
But he was first trained by his father who was a martial artist himself who taught defensive tactics for the Czechoslovakian police force.
Imi grew up in the slums of Czechoslovakia where he was forced to learn how to defend himself against thugs, gangsters and racist people who specifically hated the Jewish immigrants.
Imi devised ways to defend himself properly from the bad elements in his neighborhood by combining different martial arts techniques that ultimately begat Krav Maga – a simple yet quite effective way to protect one’s self from aggressors.
He would, later on, be commissioned by Israel’s Prime Minister himself – David Ben Gurion – to teach the Israeli Defense Force his self-defense technique as he already had taught the Jewish Community in Czechoslovakia years before.
The earliest form of Krav Maga was known as Kapap, which means face-to-face combat or battle in Hebrew and was the Israeli Martial Arts of the 1930s.
Kapap teaches a combination of boxing, judo, wrestling, stick fighting (arnis/kali/eskrima), the art of knife fighting, as well as various methods of disarming aggressors with guns.
You can read everything here in our post on Krav Maga history if you want to know more about the background.
But why has it become so popular?
As you can see in this video from Krav Maga MD, there are a lot of people who come to these classes:
Let’s take a look at how this Israeli self-defense and military training got its popularity.
The Rise to Fame
The real contributors to Krav Maga’s worldwide recognition are the media and the popular celebrities that attend KM schools.
With fans craving for celebrity news almost each and every moment of their lives the media, especially the paparazzi, will have no shortage of resources and manpower to get those shots for the sake of entertaining the public.
The media regularly shares the latest fitness trends for celebrities, which includes their workout and training sessions for the purposes of simply getting fit or practicing the necessary skills needed for their film roles.
Actors such as Tom Cruise, Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington, Scarlett Johansson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig, and Halle Berry are just among the few celebrities who train in Krav Maga.
Either for themselves or for starring roles in movies like these.
On YouTube, you will also find popular videos of Krav Maga trending with millions of views and subscribers.
People love it for 3 reasons:
- It’s easy to learn and apply in real-life situations
- It’s effective to a certain degree
- Anyone can learn it
Fitness, self-defense, and latest celebrity crazes are the main factors that cause the influx of the masses –including celebs – to flock to KM schools to learn it for themselves.
Krav Maga’s self-defense techniques bring out the best in people – not only in terms of their physical performance to thwart almost any threat that they’ll encounter – but also in their psychological capacity to be the best that they can be in life.
But it’s not just about getting you motivated to workout, get fit and learn how to defend yourself against any aggressor.
Krav Maga will also boost your confidence and empower you to change your outlook in life, which will make you a better person.
Krav Maga: Reality vs. Fiction
There is a lot of information going around about Krav Maga and while most of it is factual, some, however, are made up stories for whatever purpose that the person(s) involve in its circulation may want to achieve – usually it’s for fame and recognition.
It’s true that Krav Maga was designed to be quick and easy to learn by a wide age range; however, you have to understand that it’s only effective in theory.
Applying what you’ve learned with your new self-defense skill will entirely depend on how you perform the moves you may have practiced a hundred times or more.
Here are a few things that you need to know about Krav Maga:
Since Krav Maga is recently invented in the 1930s and 70% of its combat system is heavily borrowed from older and sometimes even ancient fighting techniques, the moves you’re being taught may not necessarily be the best concepts, but the ones that are easiest to adapt in real-life situations.
Still, I’m not saying that Krav Maga is not a good martial arts technique, no, on the contrary, it’s not popular due to media bias but it really does work in real combat scenarios, especially if you’re exceedingly good at it.
The true master of Krav Maga is Imi Lichtenfeld and he might as well claim ownership to his art. Some people though may take advantage of this and claim to teach Krav Maga with little or no knowledge of the trade all in the name of profit.
But there are legit Krav Maga schools, so if you plan to enroll in one, then look up some of the reviews to know if that particular KM school is worth your time and effort. The same is true for other martial arts such as Taekwondo and Karate.
Just because they have more schools per location doesn’t mean that they’re not as good as or is ineffective compared to Krav Maga or other martial arts techniques. Again do your homework and research the facts about the martial arts school where you want to train.
It is a fact that some martial arts are more effective than Krav Maga, especially the ones that originated in Asia like Kung Fu, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do, Taekwondo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and others.
This is especially true if you had a good teacher and spent a lot of time practicing the art. Because Krav Maga was founded in Israel it still maintains a connection to the IDF to this day, in fact, most KM masters and trainers are former IDF soldiers.
The effectiveness of Krav Maga is also being improved constantly and if you’ll attend seminars and summits KM masters from all over the world who will participate in such events will also teach new techniques to tackle an opponent or multiple opponents in the most efficient manner.
This makes Krav Maga practitioners a lethal weapon in and on themselves.