The History of Krav Maga is shorter than you may think. The Krav Maga art of self-defense was founded by Imi Lichtenfeld (Sde-Or). Imi the son of a well known and highly respected police officer and circus acrobat was born in Bratislava, Slovakia. Imi began early in his childhood learning different methods martial arts and participating in sports such as wrestling and boxing. Imi became so great in these sports that he would compete at the national level.
Soon Imi and his family were forced to immigrate to Israel which was at the time, Palestine, because of the anti-semitic riots in his home town. Realizing quickly that the sports and martial arts he had learned had very little to do with real life fighting and self defense, he began developing his own practical system of techniques. These techniques focused on natural movements and instinct reactions as well as the idea that every defensive move should be accompanied with an attack.
By 1944, Imi began training professionals in his area of expertise. Then after Israel declared it's independence in 1948, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) approached Imi Lichtenfeld in order for him to develop a system of self defense and martial combat based on his experience with the Haganah's special forces.
He continued his training for the Israeli's for almost 20 years, refining the techniques of Krav Maga so that it would then become the official combative training for Israel's military, police, and security forces. Imi tailored the training to be able to successfully include military personnel that were both in-shape and out-of-shape. Instead of spending years to rigidly train oneself to act against natural instincts, Krav Maga appropriately integrated those instinctive behaviors and simple movements to be easily practiced by anyone.
Imi retired from the IDF in 1964 and created the Krav Maga association in order to train civilians, law enforcement units, and military and promote the Krav Maga's unique techniques locally and throughout the world.
The Expansion of Krav Maga Worldwide
With Krav Maga (KM) beginning to spread beyond the borders of Israel, and throughout the entire world, there came a need to create an international organization to govern the Krav Maga training and stay true to the standards. At the time, the IKMA was falling apart from dissension amongst the higher graded instructors. Imi then formed a new International Krav Maga Federation with the support of his best students and instructors, one of which is now the IKMF's chairman, Avi Moyal.
Imi then authorized ALL Expert and Master Diplomas, grades and levels issued within the IKMF as well as the curriculum. He also approved the curriculum changes made in 1997.
Since then, the IKMF has expanded and is now the largest and most renown and respected Krav Maga institution in the world. The IKMF has branched out all over the world including, but not limited to Australia, North America, South & East Asia, the Far East, most of the countries within the European Union, and even ex-communist countries such as Poland, Russia, and Hungary.
The structure of the IKMF organization within each country is quite similar. The organization includes a director who is responsible for the growth of both the Krav Maga system and the local IKMF organization in said country, and, of course, the local instructors at different grades and levels who assist said director in training.
The IKMF knows no bounds to who can be a part of our growing community. The following statements ring true throughout the IKMF organization:
The IKMF trains and educates all types of trainees, with or without KM (or other martial art) background, such as civilian students and instructors, military personnel and instructors, law-enforcement officers and instructors etc.
The IKMF trains and educates civilian students and instructors (with KM and / or other martial arts background), Law-Enforcement officers and instructors, military personnel and instructors, as well as security and close protection officers and their instructors. All such individuals and groups are accepted into the ranks of the IKMF.