Behind the Krav Maga

Krav maga is a pretty brutal martial art that began life as a military self-defense fighting system. The popularity of the sport has grown and expanded over the past 5 years and is now a pretty common discipline. It’s actually fascinating finding out about the backstory to Krav Maga, and how it came about. Sometimes, in order to fully appreciate something you need to go behind the face and look at the inner workings.

When it comes to Krav Maga, there are a lot of people still don’t know about this style of fighting. So, we’re going to look a little closer at it, and find out as much as we can. Krav Maga is Hebrew for ‘contact combat,’ and was founded in Israel. So, let’s look a little deeper, and find out what we can about the history of Krav Maga.

What is it?

Krav Maga, as we mentioned earlier, is a fighting style and self-defense discipline that was invented in Israel. It’s thought that the hybrid martial art is based on the fighting style that was used for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), as well as some of the security forces in Israel as well, namely Shin Bet. Created by Imi Lichtenfeld, Krav Maga blends a combination of existing fighting styles, including boxing, Judo, Karate, Aikido, and wrestling. There is an emphasis on speedy and naturalistic attacks and real-world scenarios.


In order to get to the creation of Krav Maga, we have to go back to the 1930s. Imi Lichtenfeld was a martial artist who had previous experience as a boxer and a wrestler. At the time he was living in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, and the community was facing attacks from fascist groups. Using his experience and knowledge of martial arts and street fighting, Lichtenfeld developed this new fighting style. Krav Maga was intentionally designed to be accessible and easy to learn, and, in the 1940s, after moving to Israel, Lichtenfeld began to give Krav Maga lessons, eventually training the IDF!

The basics

Like most martial arts, the principal theme of Krav Maga encourages students to avoid confrontation where possible. In the absence of this, the aim is to try to finish the fight as quickly and aggressively as possible. This is why the fighting maneuvers and techniques within Krav Maga are all designed to attack the most vulnerable parts of the body. Combining simultaneous attack and defense, Krav Maga is one of the best and most effective forms of self-defense out there.


It began as combat training for the Israeli military and is still employed by the IDF when training their troops. However, the discipline has evolved and is now practiced by civilians on a wide scale. The first civilian Krav Maga school opened in Israel in 1971, and it is now an international discipline. Organized like most martial arts, Krav Maga students earn belts and pass gradings to increase their knowledge and learn more complex moves. Some organizations promote Krav Maga sparring, but competition is not widely promoted

Krav Maga is probably a martial art you have heard of, and now you know a little more about it. It’s certainly one of the more extreme and brutal forms of martial arts, and we can certainly see why the IDF use it. If this is a fighting style that seems to be in your wheelhouse, make sure you take a look at whether you can take some classes locally.