Krav Maga literally means “Combat – Contact, or touch” or “Close Quarter Combat”.
Krav Maga has no single “founder” and no official beginning. It is the product of the needs of the times and the efforts of many instructors over the years, each adding and modifying based on his skills and experience.
The roots of modern Krav Maga began with the need for self-defense in the land of Israel. One must first understand a little bit of Jewish history.
The Jewish people, a great fighting nation, were defeated by the Romans in three successive wars in the first and second centuries. (for the complete history of the Jewish people as a fighting nation please see the book by Moshe Katz book “Israel, a Nation of Warriors“)
Jews, against all odds, had always maintained a presence in the Land of Israel (called “Palestine” and other names by the various occupation forces, Jews are indigenous to this land) but around the 1880’s Jews from around the world were finally able to return in great numbers.
These returning Jews were philosophers, piano players, and university professors; they were not used to fighting and farming, but they came here and began a new life in their ancestral home.
The Jews living here were regarded as weak and helpless by the Arabs. They were considered fair targets by Bedouin Arabs and other Muslims who did not care for them.
The Arabs did not respect weakness and refereed to the Jews as “Walid el mita” – The child of death. Jewish blood was considered cheap. The Jews lived in their own quarters, scared and at the mercy of others. Often they hired Arabs to protect them.
The Jews emigrating to Israel from around the world, coming home to their ancestral homeland, found this situation shocking, intolerable and unacceptable. They began to “adjust” to the Middle East.
Although Jews had been living in Israel continuously since the loss of independence in the year 135, their numbers were few. This changed in the 1880’s with a growing return to Israel by Jewish immigrants from all over the world. The Arabs and Turks living here at the time did not care to see the Jew come home and used violence to attempt to stop the growth of Jewish towns. With these attacks comes defense, thus it can be said that the roots of modern Krav Maga began at this stage, in the 1880’s.
In 1903 the Maccabee Union was formed to teach Jews physical fitness and strength. They wanted to end the era of “Walid el mita”. They soon began training with sticks (early Kapap) but the goal was rifles, live weapons.
In 1907 a group was formed called “HaShomer” – “The Guard”, with the purpose of defending Jewish settlements. From this point, and even before this, is a constant exploration and evolution of hand-to-hand self defense techniques and strategies. This process continues even today. No one person can claim rights to this process. The need for self defense is as old as man himself.
In 1919, Jerusalem, Ze’ev Jabotinsky founded the “Haganah” – Defense, for the purpose of defending Jews against the increasing Arab attacks.
Various instructors are instrumental in developing what would become known as Kapap and eventually Krav Maga.
In January 1941 a self-defense course takes place, the chief instructors are Maishel Horowitz, Menashe Harel, Gershon Kofler, and Yitzhak Shtibel. This is a key point in the organized development of Israeli self-defense.
At the same time, in lands around the world, Jews of the exile also face violence. They too begin to form self defense groups. My grandfather told us of such groups in his hometown in the area of Munnkacs, Carpata Ukraine, around the 1930’s. It was formed by Jewish veterans who served in the Hungarian military in World War One. The group’s purpose was to defend the Jewish inhabitants from roaming gangs of Jew-haters.
Another such Jewish defense group was in Czechoslovakia in the 1930’s. Emrich (Imi) Lichtenfeld, an expert in boxing and wrestling, together with other Jews formed a Jewish self-defense group. He was influenced by his father, Shmuel, a detective and Defensive Tactics instructor with the local police force. Shmuel Lichtenfeld was known as a tough officer with a reputation for arresting the most violent criminals.
Young Imi grew up in a tough area and had to deal with fascist thugs, violent gangs and anti Semites. On the street he learned to distinguish between sporting techniques and real life self defense.
Imi Lichtenfeld began to incorporate techniques from different styles to form an effective approach to self defense to enable the Jewish community to defend itself against Fascist militias.
When Europe became unbearable for Jews, Imi left. He eventually ended up in the Land of Israel in 1942, then controlled by the British. Israeli self-defense was already well in the process of development, he joined this on-going process.
Our academy in Tyler, Tx:
We stay ontop of the current cutting edge techniques. Our techniques are always being re-evaluated, tweaked and updated. Our intense and fun training helps our students learn to be able to use these aquried skills in real life self defense situations.Our instructor is a retired Deputy U.S. Marshal, former South Florida Police Officer, and served honorably in the Infantry as a U.S.Marine and Soldier in the U.S. Army. During his days serving on Fugitive Warrant Apprehension/Arrest Teams, Miami.Fl, Honolulu, Hi, Las Vegas, Nv, and Texas, our instructor worked in the apprehension of violent fugitives (nationally and internationally). During this time our instructor took three firearms (shotgun, hand guns) which were pointed at him away. Our instructor (Drew Arthur) has used these techniques to save his life on the mean streets. He has survived three head on vehicle collisions with violent fugitives, intent on escaping or fighting to the end. He has survived many street battles with violent criminals, and fugitives. He can help you survive and thrive also. Get in our class and train in the best reality based self defense around.