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The Badass Who Founded Krav Maga

Meet Imi Lichtenfeld, Founder of Krav Maga

Imi Lichtenfeld - Founder Of Krav Maga

Imi grew up in the slums of Bratislava having to fight a lot, and helped defend Jews from fascist gangs. He learned eclectic combat tactics from his father and refined them. Later, he was acknowledged for his fighting prowess in Palestine (now Israel), and trained the Palmach, Palyam, and Haganah; Israel’s first fighting units.

When Israel was established in 1948, he became Chief Instructor of Physical Training for the Israeli Defense Forces. This is when the name/expression “Krav Maga” was coined. After Imi retired from the military, he refined Krav Maga for civilian and law enforcement use.

In 1981, Darren Levine was one of a few US Martial Arts practitioners invited to Israel to train in the system after a handful of Israeli Krav Maga instructors arrived in 1980 to demonstrate Krav Maga (mostly to Jewish Community Centers). Darren received one of only two “Founders Diploma’s” by Imi, which granted him the honor of enhancing the system over time.

In 1996, the first KMW Training Centers™ Location opened in West Los Angeles (then called the “National Training Center”), and Krav Maga truly began it’s ascent in North America. Shortly thereafter, Krav Maga Worldwide™ was established in order to help facilitate the growth of Krav Maga in the United States.

Imi Lichtenfeld - Founder Of Krav Maga Imi Lichtenfeld - Founder Of Krav Maga


Who Carries Imi’s Legacy On Today?

Just over 100 years ago, on May 26, 1910, in central Europe, the creator of Krav Maga, Imi Lichtenfeld was born. 2010 marked Imi Lichtenfeld’s 100th birthday. In honor of this occasion, Krav Maga Worldwide™ and former student of Imi, Darren Levine created this special video message that was broadcast in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Imi Lichtenfeld Centennial Celebration.

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