Krav Maga Biography: Imi Lichtenfeld

Krav Maga is an all out, aggressive and highly effective form of martial arts. This form of fighting was originated in the late 1930’s by a man named Imi Lichtenfeld in Bratislava Czechoslovakia. The purpose of this fighting technique was to quickly stop the threat of danger from an attacker and minimize injury. In the paragraphs below, a short biography of this Krav Maga legend will be explained.

Imi Lichtenfeld was born on the 26th of May 1910, into a Hungarian Jewish family living in the current day city of Bratislava Czechoslovakia. Samuel Lichtenfeld was his father who was the chief inspector for the Bratislava police, and also did some circus acrobatic work in his earlier days. Samuel Lichtenfeld also taught self defense for life threatening situations to his son Imi Lictenfel and other students at his family owned gymnasium. Growing up Imi Lichtenfeld was heavily focused on boxing and wrestling, he even competed in the national and international levels as a champion of the Slovakian wrestling team. This passion for boxing and wrestling allowed him to develop Krav Maga later in his life.

During the 1930’s there were quite a good amount of anti Semitic riots and crime happening in Bratislava, Imi, and his fellow wrestlers and boxers joined forces and started defending the town against these racist driven gangs. Soon enough , Imi Lichtenfeld would realize that his concepts and technique for the sport of wrestling and boxing were much different than the application of fighting in an urban, civilian environment. This realization is what gave Imi the idea to expand and develop a fighting system that would effectively neutralize any street fight confrontation. In 1940 however Imi Lichtenfeld eventually escaped the Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia he once called home and ended up living in what would be Israel 8 years later. Once Israel became in established nation, Imi Lichtenfeld was offered a position in the Isreali Defense forces as the Chief Instructor for Physical training, while actively working his new found career it was during this time he created the technique that would be titled Krav Maga.

After a long lasting position with the Israel defense forces as the Chief instructor for Physical training, Imi Lichtenfeld decided to retire from his duties in 1964. Once he left, he spent his remaining years teaching and developing the Krav Maga fighting technique to be as practical and effective for the modern day civilian and police officer to use. Imi Lichtenfeld died on January 9th, 1998, he was 87 years old.