If you have read our book American Krav Maga you know that we don’t claim to be teaching Imi’s Krav Maga (Imi Lichtenfeld is regarded as the founder of Krav Maga). The United States Krav Maga Association is teaching a self defense system based off of Krav Maga’s philosophy and techniques. After training with Grandmaster Lichtenstein in Israel (and bringing him to our gyms in the states) I realized that nobody, other than he, was teaching Imi’s Krav Maga. Most systems are teaching Israeli military techniques and calling it Krav Maga…and then arguing over who is doing it the way Imi wanted. Imi truly wanted Krav Maga to be Israel’s martial art. After retiring from teaching in the military he started developing Krav Maga for civilians…and only then was it called Krav Maga (around 1974 was when the name was introduced). He wanted students in gi’s, bowing, calling the techniques by their Hebrew names, etc…just like every other martial art.

When I trained in Israel with the Grandmaster it was almost like a bizarro parallel universe. We taught to keep hands up to block, they taught to keep them down to invite the attacker in. We taught to twist our core and use our whole body to develop power in punches, they taught to use arms only but to toughen up the knuckles by punching brick walls every day. We kicked to the groin with any part of our leg or foot we could hit it with, they got angry at this claiming that kick was to only use the ball of the foot. We taught to kick to only the liver and below, they liked high kicks…even high spinning kicks. We keep things as simple as possible, they had some rather flashy and fancy techniques. I was always taught that Imi wanted Krav Maga to be ever changing, to evolve. The Grandmaster said this was BS, he stated “When Michaelangelo finished the David he did not leave a hammer and chisel there for others to improve upon it.” It went as far as we wore cups, they didn’t and would kick you on purpose in the groin if they knew you were wearing one.

Was our way wrong? Was theirs? No, it was all about who we are teaching. They are used to tough as nails, macho Israelis in their classes. They can be all about bravado and keep their hands down, can punch walls, can basically be training to be the baddest dude in town and win a stand up fight with anyone. That is their way, the way they think. In the U.S. I certainly can’t teach my small females using that way of thinking…or anyone else really. If I trained people that way I would have very tough students…all ten of them. When I owned gyms in Ohio we topped out at 760 members with 670 of them being adults. We were teaching a lot of people to be safe! To train the average U.S. citizen to be safe isn’t about brutal training to make them tough. It’s teaching them to win no matter what. We teach them to cheat, to kick to the groin, to hit from behind and to hit non-stop until they are safe. If we are in a fair fight our tactics suck! I have often said that if a master from bjj or Muay Thai came to my gym and challenged me to a fight me in front of my students they would probably kick my butt. If that same person were in my house and going to hurt my family, I would not lose. I would hit them from behind with a chair, take one of the broken shards from that chair and shove it down their throat. I would do whatever it took to keep my family safe. This is Krav Maga.

Our only purpose is to keep people safe. We teach (in this order) to stay away from bad places, to run, to pick up something to use as a weapon and, as a last resort, to use Krav Maga. We teach the most battle tested, real world techniques that we can find…and then tell people that techniques won’t save them. Our main goal in class isn’t to teach techniques but to give people a switch to go from overwhelmed, confused and uncomprehending to going forward with hatred and rage to do the maximum amount of damage in the minimum amount of time. As I’ve blogged many times, ask any cop whom they would rather face. Their first choice is a very proficient black belt martial artist. Their second choice is some crazy who wants to claw off their face and chew their eyes. They would pick that martial artist every time. If we can make our practitioners that crazy (when they needed to be) and give them skills we are making some very safe people indeed. We are not getting people ready for a stint in the armed forces. We are getting people ready to defend the type of random violent attacks seen in the U.S. Getting people ready for the gang tactics, weapons, home invasions, car jackings, rape attempts, beatings, etc. that we see in the U.S. BE SAFE!



  1. Brother I heard you. Krav Maga is like Warfare, it is always involving. When I join the army in 2002, no one heard about IED. Now every recruits know what IED is. Krav Maga is great because it gives the foundation to us to develop, teach whatever way that is best for our students. When I was training in Israel, my instructors have very heavy sports fighting background, they train fighter even small petite women were fighting full force. That influenced my training philosophy. IKMA, KMF, IKMF, KMG, IKI, CT 707, KMA, KMWW…..etc. There are so many organizations out there. They all have something valuable and worth taking. In the end of the day, it is us teaching our students not Imi.

    ps: personally I believe Imi want Krav Maga always be evolving. Imi was an immigrant and traveler. Imi changed his style numerous time from street fighting to army combative to civilian self defense. Of all people Imi should be the one believe in ever changing Krav Maga.

  2. Very good post. I agree, it’s all about keeping people safe.

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