Krav Maga was a different way of playing with words to distinguish Imrich Lichtenfeld (Imi or Immi as Imrich used to sign his name or pronounce it and some even called him Emi or Imy, depending what was their second language) hand to hand combat training system in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), from any other system. So the name Krav Maga was first used for the original Immi's System.
Eli Avikzar a genius on his own like Imrich Lichtenfeld added his input and further developed it. In addition the Israeli Defense Forces Instruction discipline, quality control and Instruction Science was applied and incorporated.
But yet the Krav Maga department was unique in its strive to have students given the best intensive training that required as much brain as muscle and probably more brain than muscle.
Freshly young recruits and especially the Israeli Navy Seals and other special commando forces were in top combat fitness when arriving to the Israeli Defense Forces Fighting Fitness Academy to get their Intensive training in unarmed combat to supplement their special skills.
The Krav Maga department was small and usually consisted of one Chief Instructor and one assistant to the chief. Those two supervised some other Fighting Fitness Instructors and Fighting Fitness Sergeants that were specialists in Fitness related training including the obstacle course.
However, Fighting Fitness Instructors had only learned the very basics of Krav Maga and were expected at times to teach their trainees few basics of Krav Maga in case there was a shortage in Instructors.
It always turned out to be a disaster in quality. They did not have enough training if they did not complete the one month Krav Maga Instructor Course.
The very interesting phenomenon however was that the typical Krav Maga Instructor could be a habitual smoker that could barely do 20 pushups, and did not like to work out. However that was never an excuse for fighting skills.
Usually a guy like this was an excellent brain for teaching others how to fight and prevail. Whatsoever, a guy like this was physically able to knock out a Navy Seal Soldier at his best of shape even if he had a high ranking black belt in several martial arts. This is just another proof that Krav Maga was suitable to anyone, not just to learn but most of all to use successfully.
When Imrich Lichtenfeld retired from the Israeli Defense Forces, he opened up a dojo in Tel Aviv, and also in Natanya, and took twenty one hours of his military curriculum, rearranging the teaching of partial techniques like a bottle factory where the last step of the process is to put the cork into the bottle.
Without the cork, the product was not finalized. The last step was supposed to be completed after four years of training. The name Krav Maga which now was another way of saying hand to hand fighting in Hebrew was now used it a completely different training system in the civilian world.
It was not as bad as it might sound. Training in Imrich’s Civilian Dojo was great. You would learn boxing, kicking, some wrestling, grappling, get a good workout, but mostly you will go over Imrich special knife defense techniques, stick defense techniques and some pistol defense techniques.
Although Imrich hand strikes techniques appeared to look like boxing techniques since he acquired a boxer's habits after winning few European championships in his youth, to him it was not boxing, but teaching principles of strikes through boxing.
He emphasized practicing principles of simultaneous defense and counter-attack or preemptive attack. He was stressing and ensuring delivery of the power with each strike to result in elimination of the need to hit any possible opponent more than once or twice.
Follow up strikes were designed to be executed only if you missed the first opportunity to knock someone out in the first split of a second.
Yet if you did not move fast and broke his train of thought you could have missed the rest of your life that moment. Imrich had learned that on his own when he was involved in street fighting with Nazi Youth gangs.
Imrich Lichtenfeld was a student of his father, a former circus acrobat that became a police officer and a well known detective at his time, a European Jujitsu pioneer that taught in Hercules Gym in Bratislava, where Police and youth used to practice.
Imrich took first place in several national championships in boxing, wrestling, and gymnastics. The gymnastics he did back then resembled circus acrobatics. He could hold his partner over his head with straight arms.
With the Nazis closing in he realized he had to leave his hometown, got on one of the last boats into a long adventure, and was given the option by the British to join the British Legions for a two year service or to be deprived from arriving at his destination.
After two years of military service he was allowed entry to the future State of Israel, and he became the Hand to Hand Instructor of the Israel underground guerrillas.
He was not the only one to be an instructor. There were others too. But he was the best! Therefore, when Israel became a State, he became the first chief Instructor in the Israeli Defense Forces, and it was his system that was called Krav Maga.
It became a military ordinance that in the Israeli Defense Forces, only Krav Maga is to be taught. When he retired Eli Avikzar his best student replaced him in the Israeli Defense Forces.
While even in the Israeli Defense Forces, you had myriad of Instructors, with different personalities, the strict preparation course was designed to adhere to quality control.
The Israeli Defense Forces was forced at times to find best solutions to fill in vacant positions. Imrich had the time to prepare a replacement for himself.
Eli did the same. He prepared me, and I replaced him. But when I left I did not have the time to prepare anyone to replace me. I was offered a better paying job to teach other Aviation Security Personnel.
The IDF curriculum was a list driven by how many hours needed to train various groups in the military with a list of the techniques principles number of hours of training and topics of training. But you would need to experience gained in the intensive course in order to see the whole picture. Like in any other organization, some replacements see things in a different light due to a mental block or due to lack of proper training.
Anyway, at this point you already have more than three training systems named Krav Maga and soon after Imrich died you had many more various differing uninformed training systems named Krav Maga.
There was an era where many Israeli martial artists that never had a chance to watch Krav Maga in action or in training adopted the fashionable name Krav Maga to their list of skills. In reality, it was just a combination of military uniform and their youth martial arts training.
Personally, it’s offensive to the dead founders to see people that sell their training system but all they have to offer is the name "Krav Maga" by itself. The founders used to stress when in the first Krav Maga class of each recruit that Krav Maga is just a name. This meant to grasp the concept that you need to understand what you are doing and what is the concept behind the name.
Israeli Vultures followed by non Israeli Vultures took the name Krav Maga and spat on Immi's grave while some met with him once or twice in their career. They never experienced any Israeli military hand to hand combat training but instead they were very much involved in setting their own martial arts school after spending few years overseas learning one of few martial arts. These Martial Artists were occupied with the constant need to keep the membership of their students.
Some soldiers were looking to make money and tried to put to use their military experience and past youth martial arts combined with imaginative way to persuade even themselves that they are entitled to teach so called "Krav Maga" without having a clue what it is.
Then the rest of the world followed. Every location in the world have those people that are great actors and are looking to make money and fame without really giving any valuable service and without bothering learning anything.
These people cover with a web of lies their whole essence of being including their business. Some of these people have reached very far within their local communities and even internationally. Cheap propaganda works easily on the average imbecile of the world.
Lack of military type quality control caused to disintegration among the generations of even diluted civilian Krav Maga.
Ego battles, and even the protection and withholding of knowledge to preserve authority and the system of rewards and control based on rewards and merits caused different castes in civilian Krav Maga Schools.
The Civilian Curriculum as a list of techniques to be proficient in according to the belt level, not commensurate with ability to fist fights kicks fights or knife club and pistol threat defenses.
After all, most parents do not want to send their kids to learn real hand to hand combat. Civilian Krav Maga created a nonprofit organization to raise revenues pay salaries and spread Krav Maga around the world as the founder's mission "so may one walk in peace".
But really the clash between keeping the best in the IDF and not teaching youth in the same intensive pace and in the same effective method and quality control did not justify the use of the name Krav Maga for both systems. Whatsoever those that never really saw any type of Krav Maga were not justified for using the name as well.
Eli Avikzar, Imrich successor in the Israeli Defense Forces, Krav Maga who was also appointed by Imrich Lichtenfeld as the head of Rank Committee in the first Civilian Krav Maga association resigned the association and renamed his organization Krav Magen.
It must have been a great emotional pain for Eli Avikzar after dedicating his career as the head of the Israeli Defense Forces Krav Maga Department to not be able to call his essence in its name again. In fact Krav Magen is a name of a Civilian Association teaching Krav Maga developed by Eli Avikzar.
The irony is that other associations are teaching other forms of systems named Krav Maga. While you can see similarities in few techniques the rest of the system is just a name.
While large groups of instructors teaching under the same association umbrella strive to be legitimate and develop a curriculum, as a potential student you should look into it and see if it is really intensively geared toward billing or intensive structured learning.
If you cannot at least peek at the whole picture before you start training you may never be able to reach a complete level of self defense mastery. You should be able to understand what it takes and why you should prevail after training before you even start using your logic and common sense, not based on the IDF reputation because in most cases this reputation is stolen.
But this by itself and many other people using the name Krav Maga dilutes the training system of Krav Maga. In other words it makes it harder for a person to understand what Krav Maga is. Eli left the First Civilian Krav Maga Association because it was getting too diluted.
He tried to preserve a level of quality control by not associating himself with the rest of the group that did not have the real Krav Maga experience the way it was intensively taught in the IDF.
But in reality in the Civilian life the civilian association was built on the Dojo system with the Judo Belt Ranking System which promotes a life time Master, and students following his footsteps in a life time improvement process.
Of course many students just stay for few years, get some self defense skills and leave. But those that wish to become teachers, stay get promoted and keep coming for training in an attempt to be the one with the most knowledge or with the highest ranking in that system or association.
Eli Avikzar resigned the first Civilian Krav Maga Association out of respect for Imrich, since Imrich has the right to use the name of his system for whatever he wished for.
There was a point that Eli saw the quality control of the civilian association going down the drain. But to cleanse his soul he left and kept his secrets under a different name leaving some of them to his most trusted students – to those who he felt would respect him for the rest of his life, and will never betray him and compete with him for earning a living.
Really no one owns Krav Maga except those that learned it and can use it when needed. Whether learned for free or for payment of serving their country or exchange for services, they own it.
These owners know the techniques the principles; they have an innate instinct that can determine who will live and who will die in a split second confrontation.
Those that do not know it do not own it. They can call their business Krav Maga, and no law is going to stop them. They can impostor and make money teaching innocent people "real self defense" "Israel Defense Forces," "the best of the best," "the most invincible..."
They can buy a home on a private island with money earned after ripping people off with high fees for Intensive fitness booth camps coupled with few Jujitsu gun threat defenses not taking all the tactical rational considerations and not testing the techniques with a device that allows the training partner to shoot and cause some discomfort to the defender if he was not able to swiftly execute his defense.
They can find a most trusted disciple and tell him to stand with a wooden knife, and execute the whole jujitsu curriculum on him. Throws, arm locks and that wooden pistol or wooden knife never did anything and never had a chance to do anything to anyone.
These people do not own Krav Maga! They can talk about it. It is a world of free speech (most of it at least)!
Imrich Lichtenfeld used to say. Every man knows what he is worth! Yes, lack of intelligence brings people to lie, to steal etc at times. Ignorance coupled with creative imagination could be a blessing too.
Those that took the Israeli Defense Forces Krav Maga Instructor Course from a good Instructor, own Krav Maga.
Those that never learned real Krav Maga do not own it. Those that learned civilian Krav Maga have the legitimacy and integrity to use the name of the Civilian System but only the name is the same. It is not the Israel Defense Forces Training Method of Krav Maga.
Those that learned from a "good instructor"(someone that was in lineage from the Krav Maga founders and was taught the complete IDF System) whether in the military, police, or civilian life, and completed the Krav Maga curriculum and got sufficient training are owners of Krav Maga!
But who is really to tell anyone what they own and what they do not own. It is a matter of perception according to level of intelligence and comparative knowledge. If you were not exposed to the real thing, you might have nothing to compare to. You can only ask yourself and seek the truth.