What is krav maga?
The generic name krav maga is derived from two ancient Hebrew words, krav translated as "combat" and maga translated as "contact" to form the combination "contact combat." Krav maga is used every day by the men and women of the Israeli defense and security forces. Krav maga's origins were developed by a Czech, Imi Lichtenfeld, in the late 1930's to protect his community against anti-Semitic violence. Krav maga is recognized by the Israeli Ministry of Education as the leading method of self-defense. In developing the self-defense system, survival in any situation was foremost in Imi's mind. Accordingly, krav maga relies on a person's natural instincts and reflexes for self-defense. Awareness and mental conditioning are integral to krav maga training. Krav maga's philosophy is never to do more than necessary, but to react with speed, economy of motion, and the appropriate measure of force. Speed is paramount and one is taught to strike instinctively at the human body's vulnerable parts. Krav maga is dynamic and constantly evolves as situations require. The system is battle-tested and street-proven. Most important, krav maga emphasizes that there are no rules on the street. If a situation is dire, the defender must do whatever is necessary to overcome the threat. This may include multiple strikes to the groin, throat, and kidneys, a finger planted into an eye, shouting into an attacker's ear, or a head butt or a bite to the neck. Because of this philosophy, krav maga is not suited for tournaments and must be practiced under controlled conditions. A student appreciates the simplicity and universal application of krav maga immediately. Krav maga uses the concept of retzef, Hebrew for "continuous motion" to complete a defense. Krav maga uses the same building blocks from the simplest defenses to the most advanced techniques including empty-handed defenses and disarms against bladed weapons, firearms, hand grenades, and even rocks. Krav maga is world-renowned for its disarming techniques against assailants posing a threat with handguns, rifles, knives and edged weapons, sticks and even rocks. The system also incorporates subduing techniques that can de-escalate or escalate a situation quickly such as the proper way to grab, and - if necessary - break an attacker's finger to gain control. Imi designed krav maga for people of all shapes, sizes, and physical abilities regardless of age. While krav maga was designed to teach soldiers to become proficient in hand-to-hand combat tactics in a short time, the same is true of krav maga's civilian adaptation. Krav maga is well received within law enforcement and military circles. Numerous law enforcement agencies and military branches all over the world train their men and women in krav maga. For more information on krav maga and its founder, Imi Lichtenfeld, in either English or Hebrew, please visit www.kravmagaisraeli.com.
What is the Israeli Krav Maga Association (Gidon System)?
Krav maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld established the non-profit Israeli Krav Maga Association (IKMA) in 1978 to promote krav maga throughout the world. After Imi's retirement in 1964 as the military's chief instructor of physical training and self-defense, he focused on adapting his system to provide both professional security agencies and ordinary civilians - men, women, and children - with solutions to avoid and/or end a violent encounter. Haim Gidon, the highest-ranking individual in the world at 10th degree black-belt, heads the organization as Imi's appointed successor. In recognition, of Grandmaster Gidon's contributions to the system, the IKMA added Grandmaster Gidon's name to the Association's title, hence, Israeli Krav Maga Association Gidon System. The IKMA sponsors worldwide programs and courses are available at the Association's main training facility in Netanya, Israel. More information in both English and Hebrew can be found at the IKMA's website: www.kravmagaisraeli.com.
What are the the two logos representing the Israeli Krav Maga (Gidon System)?
In the U.S., the sword/wing kravist combination was first used in 2005 when the IKMA's representatives could no longer use the original "kuf mem" logo. The original 'kuf mem" was trademarked without the IKMA's permission by a splinter krav maga organization. Therefore, in the U.S., the krav maga interpretation represented by the "kuf mem" symbol is no longer the IKMA's. To that end, and to further distinguish and solidify the distinct Israeli krav maga as developed by Haim Gidon as a direct continuation of Imi's teaching, the IKMA adopted a new logo, the Gidon System, for use in the U.S. in 2007. The Gidon logo serves as the official IKMA logo for all U.S. representatives and is used worldwide as the single source to represent the IKMA. Both logos are used together for continuity and to demonstrate the lasting ties with Israel, krav maga's source.
What are the differences between the IKMA and other krav maga organizations?
The Israeli government recognizes the non-profit IKMA as the governing body for krav maga. Krav maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld remained with his original krav maga organization, the IKMA, until his final days. Haim was duly elected President of the IKMA in 1994. After Imi awarded Grandmaster Gidon his 8th dan in 1996 announcing publicly that 9th and 10th dans were to come and, several members left the IKMA to form their own competing krav maga organizations. These organizations instruct krav maga according to their own interpretations and imitations. Imi formally approved of Haim’s modifications and additions to the krav maga curriculum which were not made available to these new competing krav maga organizations. Imi’s designation of Haim Gidon as his successor indicates Imi’s faith in his original organization while Imi and Haim’s hometown, Netanya, Israel serves as the hub of krav maga learning and development. Many non-affiliated organizations use and have registered the IKMA’s distinct kuf-mem logo without the IKMA’s permission. The IKMA strongly opposes this and is challenging this misappropriation of its logo and goodwill.
Why the IKMA's representatives fought to have the name krav maga declared generic in the U.S.?
The IKMA’s representatives in the United States fought and defeated the attempted trademark of the name krav maga. We had to preserve the IKMA’s ability to teach Israeli krav maga in the United States. We recognize this opened the floodgates to anyone claiming to be a krav maga instructor to teach his or her imitation of Israeli krav maga. This, indeed, may well lead to the degradation of krav maga’s stellar reputation. However, as the original and longest standing krav maga organization founded in 1978, given the choice of the ability to teach in the United States using the name krav maga or being prohibited by an attempted trademark of the name krav maga, the choice was obvious. We fought and won. Our mission is to preserve the well earned and fought for reputation of Israeli krav maga through the most up to date instruction and maintaining the strongest ties to krav maga’s source: Israel.
Who was Imi (Emerich) Lichtenfeld?
Krav maga Founder Imi (Emerich) Lichtenfeld (1910-1998) was born in Budapest, Czechoslovakia and later resided in Bratislava. Imi's father, Samuel Lichtenfeld, joined a professional circus where he excelled at wrestling and boxing. After developing extensive knowledge in fitness training along with wrestling, boxing, and mixed-skill fighting , Samuel joined the police as a detective and had the leading arrest record. Samuel also opened the gym "Hercules" where Imi began his training. Imi rapidly distinguished himself as a champion in judo, boxing, wrestling, gymnastics and ball room dancing among other athletic pursuits.
Who is Haim Gidon?
Grandmaster Haim Gidon, (10th dan and IKMA President) is a member of krav maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld's first training class in the early 1960's. Along with Imi and other top instructors, Haim Gidon co-founded the Israeli Krav Maga Association (IKMA) which he now heads as President. In 1995, Imi nominated Haim as the top authority to grant 1st dan krav maga black-belt and up. In an IKMA ceremony, Imi awarded Haim Gidon 8th dan and stated 9th and 10th dans "were to come" designating Haim as the highest ranking krav maga instructor. (Video clips of the ceremony are available at www.kravmagaisraeli.com). Imi approved of Haim's adding extensive groundwork modified weapons defenses and other additions/improvements to the krav maga system.
Who are David Kahn, Abel Kahn, Alan Feldman, and Rick Blitstein?
David Kahn serves as the IKMA's U.S. Chief Instructor and received his advanced blackbelt teaching certifications from Grandmaster Haim Gidon. David trains regularly in Israel with Grandmaster Gidon and was elected to the board of the IKMA. David is certified by State of New Jersey Department of Public Safety Criminal Justice Division Police Training Commission. David authored the books both by St.Martin's Press: Krav Maga (2004) and Advanced Krav Maga (2008). Abel Kahn began his krav maga training with David Kahn and completed his 180 hour instructor training certification in Israel with Grandmaster Haim Gidon. Abel is responsible for the national roll-out of Israeli krav maga in the United States in coordination with the Israeli Krav Maga Association. Rick Blitstein is a senior blackbelt instructor who was one of a few hand picked individuals who traveled to Netanya, Israel in 1981 to complete an intensive krav maga instructors course. Under the watchful eye of krav maga founder, Imi Lichtenfeld, Rick was taught by Israeli experts for the purpose of introducing krav maga in the United States. Imi and Rick formed very close bonds and spent much time training together in both Israel and the United States. Alan Feldman is a senior blackbelt instructor who was one the original martial arts instructors who received a scholarship to train in Israel in an intensive program to harvest American instructors along with Rick Blitstein. Alan began teaching krav maga in the Philadelphia area in 1981. Alan is certified by the ministry of education in Israel and is one of the highest ranking American instructors.
Who uses krav maga?
Krav maga is used every day by the men and women of the Israeli defense and security forces. Numerous international military, security, and law enforcement agencies also employ krav maga. In addition, krav maga has thousands of civilian practionners around the world.
How does krav maga differ from other martial arts or fighting styles?
Krav maga is complete fighting system. The only rule is that there are no rules. In its military capacity and highest levels of learning, krav maga teaches not just defenses against armed and unarmed attack, but how to initiate an attack. An IKMA krav maga practionner is as comfortable in a ground confrontation as standing confrontation. (Note: a practionner does not necessarily want to be situated on the ground during a confrontation for several reasons including the threat of multiple attackers. Nevertheless, the reality is that many fights to end up on the ground.) Imi designed krav maga to be learned in a short time, and, equally important, to be retained. Krav maga does not emphasize traditional katas or choreographed routines. Instead, krav maga relies on retzev or "continuous combat motion" to complete the defense. Krav maga's spiritual side is embodied by civility and good citizenship.
How did the word kravist evolve?
David Kahn coined the term kravist in his first book Krav Maga published by St. Martin's Press in 2004. Kravist denotes a skilled determined krav maga fighter.
Does the IKMA curriculum incorporate groundwork?
Yes, the IKMA incorporates extensive groundwork tailored to the krav maga philosophy of quickly disabling or neutralizing an opponent. In other words, a krav maga practitioner does not necessarily intend for a "submission" or "tap out" from an opponent as common in sport fighting. A krav maga practionner will execute a joint dislocation or worse to end to the confrontation. (On this and related points, use of force and legal issues are important considerations. A defender must not exceed "reasonable" force or use excessive measures once the threat ceases to be a danger. Use of force issues vary considerably and it is incumbent for a defender to know what is legally acceptable.)
Does krav maga adhere to a belt or ranking system?
Yes, krav maga uses a belt ranking system as follows, however, belts are optionally worn:
The IKMA charter has a clause about granting grades:
1. A certified instructor - (in Israel the Sport law defines a certified instructor as one who passed a course for instructors supervised by a certified KM coach and organized according a set of requirements) - is entitled to examine and grant grades up to and including blue belt provided the instructor is at least two grades higher. So a D1 black belt certified instructor can grant up to and including a blue belt. A holder of a grade, whatever his degree, cannot test or grant grades including brown belt and higher.
2. A committee for grades will test for grades from brown and up. At least 3 examiners will attend each test.
3. The professional committee is competent to nominate a single examiner to perform examinations abroad for high grades.
Does one require previous self-defense training?
No, krav maga is designed for people to learn self-defense and advanced fighting skills regardless of previous self-defense training or who have no self-defense training at all. Krav maga's overriding philosophy is to do "whatever works." While krav maga emphasizes several basic techniques and advanced applications of these techniques to neutralize a dangerous situation, there may be no absolute or correct answer. The system is flexible in its thinking, true to its modern combat evolution. Techniques are constantly modified, revised, added and discarded as real-life encounters are taken into account and analyzed.
Does krav maga require uniforms or specific attire?
No, however, most students wear Israeli krav maga t-shirts and plain training pants.
How are krav maga classes run?
Krav maga classes are generally run from one hour to one and one-half hours in the United States. Seminars are also typical and can run up to five hours in length. In Israel, the typical krav maga student trains a 4-6 hours per week. Class will begin with stretching and warm-ups. Retzev or "continuous motion" combatives will follow. Grandmaster Haim Gidon and senior instructors will demonstrate techniques for the appropriate belt levels full speed and then break-down the technique into its component parts. Students will then practice the techniques. If a particular question catches the instructor's attention, class will temporarily halt for the instructor to provide further clarification and explanation.
Do classes incorporate full contact fighting?
Yes and no. Krav maga, because of its nature, must be practiced under controlled conditions. Because striking at the body's vulnerable parts is krav maga's underlying counterattack principle, caution must be applied when using the techniques especially to the groin, throat and eyes. However, controlled sparring with protective gear and groundwork is an integral part of the krav maga curriculum. Advanced students regularly participate in "fighting classes." Krav maga instructors emphasize two paradoxical training rules: (1) there are no rules in a fight and (2) one must not injure oneself or one's partner when training.
Does krav maga distinguish between training men and women?
No, Imi designed krav maga for people of all shapes, sizes, and physical abilities regardless of age or sex. The same krav maga techniques, with minor modifications, are taught to both men and women. However, the emphasis placed on certain techniques is can be different. Size and strength are factors a defender - male or female - must take into consideration. This is especially true where reach is a determining factor. Often women are confronted with a predatory attack, which brings the attacker in close. As a result, "infighting" or elbows, knees, eye-gouges, and, if necessary, bites are encouraged. In addition, some women are reluctant to use their knuckles for striking and instead may feel more comfortable, for example, using a palm-heal. Several krav maga ground-fighting techniques also address sexual predation or other dangers women may face and are specially adapted.
Is it appropriate for children to learn krav maga?
Yes, krav maga is recognized by the Israeli Ministry of Education as the leading method of self-defense. The IKMA runs extensive training programs for children. Basic krav maga movements are taught combining physical fitness training along with civic virtues.
Does krav maga incorporate weapons defenses?
Yes, krav maga is world renowned for its weapons defenses including threats from edged weapons, blunt weapons, firearms, and even microexplosives.