The following are extracts of the full history of Krav Maga by Moshe Katz…

“Krav Maga literally means “Combat – Contact, or touch” or “Close Quarter Combat”.

“Krav Maga has no single “founder” and no official beginning. It is the product of the needs of the times and the efforts of many instructors over the years, each adding and modifying based on his skills and experience.

The roots of modern Krav Maga began with the need for self-defense in the land of Israel.

The Jewish people, a great fighting nation, were defeated by the Romans in three successive wars in the first and second centuries. (for the complete history of the Jewish people as a fighting nation please see Moshe’s book, “Israel, a Nation of Warriors“)

Jews, against all odds, had always maintained a presence in the Land of Israel (called “Palestine” and other names by the various occupation forces) but around the 1880’s Jews from around the world were finally able to return in great numbers.

In 1903 the Maccabi Union was formed to teach Jews physical fitness and strength. They wanted to end the era of “Walid el mita”. They soon began training with sticks (early Kapap) but the goal was rifles, live weapons.

In 1907 a group was formed called “HaShomer” – “The Guard”, with the purpose of defending Jewish settlements. From this point, and even before this, is a constant exploration and evolution of hand-to-hand self defense techniques and strategies. This process continues even today. No one person can claim rights to this process. The need for self defense is as old as man himself.

In 1919 Ze’ev Jabotinsky founded the “Haganah” – Defense, for the purpose of defending Jews against the increasing Arab attacks.

Various instructors are instrumental in developing what would become known as Kapap and eventually Krav Maga.

In January 1941 a self-defense course takes place, the chief instructors are Maishel Horowitz, Menashe Harel, Gershon Kofler, and Yitzhak Shtibel. This is a key point in the organized development of Israeli self-defense.

At the same time, in lands around the world, Jews of the exile also face violence. They too begin to form self defense groups. My grandfather told us of such groups in his hometown in the area of Munnkacs, Carpata Ukraine, around the 1930’s. It was formed by Jewish veterans who served in the Hungarian military in World War One. The group’s purpose was to defend the Jewish inhabitants from roaming gangs of Jew-haters.

Another such Jewish defense group was in Czechoslovakia in the 1930’s. Emrich (Imi) Lichtenfeld, an expert in boxing and wrestling, together with other Jews formed a Jewish self-defense group. He was influenced by his father, Shmuel, a detective and Defensive Tactics instructor with the local police force. Shmuel Lichtenfeld was known as a tough officer with a reputation for arresting the most violent criminals.

Young Imi grew up in a tough area and had to deal with fascist thugs, violent gangs and anti Semites. On the street he learned to distinguish between sporting techniques and real life self defense.

Imi Lichtenfeld began to incorporate techniques from different styles to form an effective approach to self defense to enable the Jewish community to defend itself against Fascist militias.”


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