The History of Krav Maga
Krav Maga is a fairly new martial art and form of self defense, as it was created during the early to mid 1930’s. It was originally formed in Czechoslovakia and Hungary by a man named Imi Lichtenfield (he was also known by the name Imi Sde-Or) and later was developed in Israel by the Israeli military. It was first taught in Bratislava, however, to help teach the Jews how to defend themselves against the raging Nazi military.
Around the year 1948, the State of Israel was created and Imi Sde-Or was named the Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga and taught the form of martial arts to students who would later become members of the Israeli Defense Forces. Sadly, Imi Sde-Or died during the year 1998 after about 20 years of faithful service.
It was not until around the year of 1980 that Krav Maga began to find a place outside of Israel. Because of its Jewish link, when six masters traveled to the United States to help spread the martial art, it was first and foremost taught in centers for the Jewish community.
It is a fact that Krav Maga is an extremely unique and functional martial art and because of this, it found its way into American military and law enforcement tasks as well. These six instructors went back and forth between America and Israel to help bring about several schools to help get the art set up permanently.
As Krav Maga developed into more of a martial art and a sport rather than a mere form of self defense, authorities had to devise a system to help establish ranks. While some forms employ a traditional belt system (with the traditional colors of yellow, orange, green, blue, brown and black), most older forms employ a patch ranking system instead. With this type of ranking, there are four major categories: Practitioner, Graduate, Expert and Master. In the first three categories, there are five levels in each and in the fourth category, there are three levels. This creates a total of eighteen levels in traditional Krav Maga.
Since the founders taught different forms of the martial art to military and law enforcement personnel, it was only fair that a different ranking system be used for them as well. The general idea is the same, however, the military categories are known as Fighter, Warrior and Operator.
Regardless of the particular style of Krav Maga, however, one thing is for certain, it is one of the most brutal known forms of self defense available today. Because the Jewish community were learning self defense to help them fight against the Nazi in the 1940’s, Imi Sde-Or had to create something both vicious and effective or all would have been lost. Krav Maga stresses fighting in the worst possible scenario, often students will practice to extremely loud music or strobe lights to help them tune out external stimuli and to teach them to focus on the fight. This too stems from the original purpose of Krav Maga. Its origins make Krav Maga one of the most useful martial arts known today.