Emrich Imi Lichtenfeld Sde Or – History Of Krav Maga (26.5.1910 – 9.1.1998)

Emrich “Imi” Lichtenfeld (Sde-Or), the founding father of Krav Maga (contact fight), was born in 1910, in Budapest, Hungary. Inspired by his father, he started to practice a variety of sports activities. He was a good swimmer, gymnast, wrestler, and boxer. In 1928 he conquered the teenage wrestling championship in Slovakia and in 1929, he got the National Championship. In the very year, he won the Slovakia National Boxing Championship plus an International Championship in gymnastics.

In 1942 “Imi” emigrated to Israel and was drafted by Izchak Sade to the “Hagana”. By 1944 “Imi” was teaching troopers physical training, swimming, assault and defense from knife attacks and face-to-face combat using sticks (a method taken from the English police).

“Imi’s” position was established as a Physical Education teacher self-defense teacher. After the Declaration of Independence “Imi” joined the I.D.F and carried on as Head P.E. and Krav Maga instructor. “Imi” advanced to develop defense exercises for knives, firearms, spear rifle and various attacks. He incorporated practices from Jujitsu like grip releases. This was the beginning of Krav Maga (contact fight) within the I.D.F. and “Imi’s” memorable saying “The Shortest and the Fastest method” is most efficient.

In time, “Imi” noticed that some of the exercises were too complicated, and might not be performed by all the troopers. Therefore he revised and adjusted the exercises so that every soldier might do them after a short time.

“Imi” retired from the military in 1964 and went on to establish a private coaching center in Netanya for Krav Maga. He also instructed Jujitsu and Gymnastics. Krav Maga reached new heights as civilians who were fascinated by Self Defense compared this method to other techniques, developing the system even more.

The method says “Do what you can, but do not get hurt” and by utilizing the “simplest and best method.” According to the modern ideology “Imi” developed new exercises appropriate for every person. In 1971 “Imi” granted the first Black Belt in Krav Maga to one of his loyal and gifted student, Eli Avikzar, who in time continued developing Krav Maga (known these days as Krav-Magen) and later founded the Israeli Krav Magen Association – K.A.M.I.

The first Dan 1 Black Belt levels issued

1971 Eli Avikzar
1973 Rafi Elgarisi
1975 Him Zut
1975 Shmuel Kutzviel
1975 Haim Hakani
1975 Shlomo Avsira
1975 Victor Bracha
1978 Yaron Lichtenstein
1978 Avner Hazan
1979 Avi Abeceedon
1980 Miki Asulin

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