Krav Maga is an Israeli military hand-to-hand combat system created by Imi Lichtenfeld, a Czechoslovakian Jew, who used his experience as a boxer and wrestler to protect the Jewish community from anti-semitic violence in the Bratislava region before World War II.
In 1940, with the Nazi occupation of Bratislava, Imi fled from Bratislava. Arriving in Israel in 1942, Imi trained the militias that fought for the independence of the State of Israel in close-quarters-combat, teaching techniques from boxing and wrestling, but modified to use the body's natural movements and reactions. This close-quarters-combat system was named Krav Maga, which means "contact combat" in Hebrew. After the establishment of the State of Israel, Imi was named chief instructor of physical fitness of the Israel Defense Forces. In 1964 he retired from the IDF and started to modify the military Krav Maga to fit civilian self-defense needs. Imi died in January of 1988 without naming a successor. Today, there are many controversies between Krav Maga organizations about who the successors to Imi are.
Krav Maga techniques are a mix of Boxing, Karate, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Aikido, Judo, and Jiu-Jitsu techniques, but simplified for any person, regardless of gender, age or physical conditioning, to be able to successfully apply the techniques. For example, Karate high-kicks are taught for advanced-level practitioners, but they are highly de-emphasized due to their difficulty. These kicks are taught only for the practitioner to be able to recognized them if attacked by someone with training in martial arts that emphasize those kicks, such as Tae-Kwon-Do, or Karate itself. The importance of effectiveness for any person is on the fact that military service in Israel is mandatory for both men and women, who generally have less physical strength than men. Today, Krav Maga is used by elite armed forces and law enforcement units of various countries. On the US, this includes the CIA, the FBI, the US Special Forces, Coast Guard and the SWAT of many American states.