History of Pure Krav Maga and The Vision of It's Founder

Nothing wrong in excelling in a sport but self defense should be well rounded skills and not in winning sports competitions, but in awareness through understanding the limits both you and your opponent may have through lecture and training and using them to your favor when you can.[Boaz Aviram, Pure Krav Maga Founder]

Pure Krav Maga has all the techniques and the Tactics that the other Martial Arts have in their most efficient combination of form and prioritization geared for Self Defense Training under the constraint of reaction time. To be able to completely understand this statement you can read the book Krav Maga - Use Your Body as a Weapon!

Pure Krav Maga Curriculum consists of selected techniques and drills that all together give its students intensive training to master self defense. The idea is to intensively maximize prioritization, efficiency and human body power utilization to prevail in any self defense Hand to Hand Fighting Scenario.

Students who have completed the intensive two to five days training regimen can be compared to swimmers that are accustomed to swim in varieties of waters above the surface and under the surface.

They are accustomed to face threats and prevail from humans with varieties of training in fighting systems and physical fitness…

Imrich Lichtenfeld and Eli Avikzar were both men of Genius. Imrich had a vast Jujitsu, and competitive boxing wrestling and gymnastics experience and won European Championships.  
He also had street fighting experience vs. Nazi youth gangs, and later had a British Military experience learning the then taught Fairbairn methods of self defense. 

However Imrich extracted Jujitsu, Wrestling and Boxing out and started to create a direct approach to distill movements based on principles according to the priority presented by the passage of valuable time during a confrontation.

He then started to break down various parts of techniques to facilitate easy learning of working techniques against professional fighters.

The system was developed by Eli Avikzar much further than Imrich since he got everything that Imrich had taught him, and while Imrich was retired he developed Imrich’s principles and applied them in many other ways.

Imrich and Eli who followed his way, limited the learning of civilians by reverting to the old dojo system.  In fact they created another martial art in the civilian life.  
This Dojo Style Training was not geared toward fast pace intensive training.

Unfortunately, after few generations of techniques and curriculum based training system, coupled with lack of quality control, the system was going down until it was below effectiveness and competitive edge. It's instructors started to look outside for existing MMA trying to reinvent the wheel.

When it comes to hand to hand fighting, I started my youth with street confrontations.  
In my first street confrontation I remember going through adrenaline rush and limited vision in black and white slow motion camera picking up a handy object that happened to be a broken chair leg and striking the first kid out of fifteen kids that were chasing me top down to the center of the body. He passed out and I continued I to run and seek hiding place.

I then learned Judo, Jujitsu, Karate, and Aikido, got into few more streets or school confrontations and learned my lessons and improved my confidence to be overstated somewhat. Did the 100 men kumite in the Karate school which reflecting on it appears to be a social contest of fitness… And then I discovered Krav Maga in the Israel Defense Force.

I had the advantage to repeat the working experience of Eli Avikzar and Imrich Lichtenfeld in the IDF and I became Eli Avikzar’s assistant in the Krav Maga department at the Israeli Defense Forces Fighting Fitness Academy.  When Eli Avikzar retired, I've replaced him!

I also had a chance to follow the path of the civilian curriculum according to their recommendations and see for myself that there was nothing new to learn in the civilian Dojo.  I have also noticed that the Civilian Instructors that did not take the IDF course and did not have IDF Krav Maga experience were lacking the vision of those that saw the whole picture.

In addition I've noticed that while both Eli and Imrich had a solid direction in following Imrich’s principles, Eli noticed that Imrich was doing some things out of past habits, and I've noticed that Eli did the same.

The reversion to the Dojo experience caused them to act as Dojo Masters at times, which they wasted a valuable time in an easy pace to philosophize on partial techniques and principles and amaze their students but not always ensure their students advance intensively.

It appears like they had always saved something for years to come, and when the time came Eli was worried Immi losing his judgement about giving black belt titles behind his back as Imrich had appointed Eli to the head of rank committee at the first civilian Krav Maga Association.

The culture of loyalty in the history of Martial Arts has set up the foundations for secrecy and protection to unique ideas. In the old days training system’s invention, would not have modern copyrights and would be stolen and used by others for profit.  In order to ensure that a Master of a Fighting System will have a life time occupation, the only way was to teach slowly and ensure that the unconditional loyalty of the students are acquired prior to that.

It was sort of a family relationship. After all the art of fighting is to be used as a last resort to protect one’s honor and personal liberties of self or dear ones, and to have it taught to a possible sort of an enemy whether in blood or in business, would be like bringing in a Trojan horse into your Dojo.

Both Imrich and Eli who followed Imrich’s way and limited the learning of civilians by reverting to the old dojo system and in fact created another martial art in the civilian life, which was not geared toward fast pace intensive training, and after few generations of techniques and curriculum based learning, the quality control of the training system had declined.

Imrich was an excellent strong and fast fighter in his youth, and had impeccable execution of efficient techniques, but not always tested every pistol defense to its limits, since most of the original pistol defense techniques were simplified and thought of last resort. Eli Avikzar had further developed the principles of efficiency.

I went further to strictly apply their principles and test them in the worst case scenarios and saw the need to add few variations to scenarios where lack of reaction time in close distance called for a modified reach to compensate for different angles and distances of approach.

When Imrich got very old he still liked to come when invited to student's school.  At times students started to assume he is old and a bit hallucinating.  They tried to excuse themselves that this is why he would make comment about their errors in perception of their training methods.  However, perhaps his way of communicating as an old men was not as clear as in his youth, he still was on the point when he criticized them.  Most times they would not listen.

Eli Avikzar parted out of the Krav Maga Association due disagreement with Imrich about Imrich bypassing him in his rank of head of the rank committee.  He became a civilian Master of Krav Magen and went with the flow of the Jujitsu Style Masters in some ways. Both of them,  in civilian life were now engaged in an easy pace self defense system that will overall suit a group of mixed ages. There was not a time limit in acquisition of skills, nor systematic programming.

Instead, a curriculum with selected techniques that only those that were explained in complete details by Imrich and Eli (usually to those that taught in the IDF) really understood what fighting is all about.

I think since I was involved with full contact Karate Jujitsu and Aikido for years, I doubted each Krav Maga technique at the beginning, and when I realized how all the secrets of fighting started to reveal themselves to me, I wanted to ensure I had gotten them all and that my students will get them all.

I continued the same mentality into civilian life, and later documented most of the secrets that Imrich and Eli had and only taught some of them to very few people and not all of them to the same people. This ensured that each student chance to learn everything which makes the difference.

Even Eli and Imrich did not document the complete picture. Accountants historically were the protectors of the assets from theft by calculating everything. Modern accounting training considers professionalism, ethics, analytically mathematically correct, complete disclosure and presentation of subject being audited.

As a certified Public Accountant, I naturally applied the instilled skills and traits into the task of preserving Krav Maga. I guess I had the opportunity to become the protector of the intellectual knowledge of Krav Maga. Since I was an accountant I had the skills to see complete pictures without loose ends and since I put it in writing, new depth came into light.

Since I chose a path of accounting as a major civilian career, after auditing Investment partnerships for few years and servicing investment companies I got accustomed to document 100's of sheets of paper with schedules summarizing analytically if the control mechanism of the accounting systems could be relied upon, and whether each presentation of the financial operations and the companies position were fair.

So I was determined to leave something to the world. The rest is sitting for 6 hours a day for one year and reflecting about my personal experience in the Israel Defense Force, and the Aviation Authority brainstorming editing and self publishing a book, and presenting any argument anyone in the martial arts world and Military H2H could ever think about, and some of those arguments that can only be thought about after reading my book, and I documented solutions for them.

The more in depth you get into it , the more in depth you understand it. But the bottom line is to give enough experience and training to have your students succeed in a real life self defense confrontation.

Of course when I started to brainstorm many of my ideas were politically influenced but I edited them and distilled them to keep a balanced analytic logical and mathematically correct approach and tried to draw realistic conclusions as well. I think my main concern was also that besides losing my life one day, I also might lose the clarity of my mind, so It would be a good idea to have a text book to preserve all the essential information of Krav Maga.

During my five years of teaching in the Israel Defense Force I was subject to constant danger of losing my face to any of your soldier special units trainees that constantly are trying to make a joke out of you. Most of them already have black belts in fighting arts, and did boxing and wrestling for few years. Should a champion of any fighting sports that stopped by in the fighting fitness academy, it would be arranged for you to spar with him by someone.

This forces you to be on your toes and constantly weigh your options of applying just the exact required force to win without unnecessarily inflicting great bodily injury on your "Opponents" whether by inflicting pain on a pressure point, a slap, a punch, or a kick. It was Eli Avikzar’s advice as I started my career in the Israeli Defense Forces as a Krav Maga Instructor “don’t let anyone put you down because if it happens your career here is finished!!!”

Think about it. You go to school to learn a profession. You read research. You read history. You learn discipline and hard work. You learn the language of your profession. You learn to solve mathematical problems and theoretical Physical Problem. You do learn intensively in college, and a lot of time you spread your horizons far way from your point of focus.

You go to your local Dojo, you take a civilian martial art that its origin is 4,000 years ago, or you go to a military organization that has one of the Dojo production that due to lack of time teaches the basics with a lot of fitness. Forty generations of instructors that were more worried about keeping their secrets from their students and teaching less.

Look what happened in only three generations of Krav Maga Instructors. You train two times a week for one hour. You do warm up and stretching for twenty minutes, you practice few techniques in twenty minutes and ensure that the small kids and adults remember what the techniques suppose to look like and to name them, and you end with twenty minutes of hard exercise to make your student sweat and feel they worked hard.
When you reach brown and black belt you have to spar full contact for five minutes and exchange blows and kicks.   In MMA you exchange blows kicks and arm bars from day one and learn a lot of techniques, and how to shift from one to another.

It takes years to memorize these motor skills, and yet you do not learn to prioritize and do not learn simple principles that will reveal to you the secrets of fighting - Simple instructions to get from standing to defeating your partner, not from one arm bar to another.

In Pure Krav Maga you go through intensive training that instill the whole picture in your brain, through variety of interlocked training methods, that instill all the essential connections and intersections in your brain and body.

Of course it is advisable to keep training afterward and teaching is a great motivator to force you to keep up with your skills. But after you teach for few years, Krav Maga is becoming part of you whether you keep training or even if you stop. Imrich used to say in his 70’s that his bones might be fragile due to calcium deposits of old age, and if he punch someone he will knock him out, but probably also break his own hand…

When Imrich Lichtenfeld Krav Maga Creator retired from the IDF, he opened two Gyms in Natanya and Tel Aviv where he began teaching Civilians in a Dojo based Training System, Krav Maga. Imrich thoughts were with all the people that suffer from threatening situations as he did himself while persecuted by the Nazi’s in his youth.

However, he also battled with his loyalty to the IDF where he spent his career as the first founder and Chief Instructor of Krav Maga. In addition, he tried to appeal to the civilian market by adopting the existing Dojo marketing system in the modern western world where the Kids would be catered to as well as adults and was fitness based and geared.

While Imrich grew up in and athletic youth culture where he honed his pugilistic skills, became a boxing, wrestling and gymnast champion, he realized he had to modify his techniques to fight blood thirsty Nazi youth groups that used to sneak on their victims by surprise and draw blood out of their victims not to get hurt themselves.

Confrontation like this would come by surprise and within few seconds it would be determined who has lost. The looser would get extra kicks to the head and ribs which would shorten his chances to live. Then when he taught his mates, he modified his years of training experience back to reality.

Since young Israel was a far safer country to Jews then emerging Nazi Europe at that time, it was safe to resort to a fitness youth activity based athletics, which were Immi’s youth passion before reality hit him in the face.

During an interview Imrich Lichtenfeld gave to People’s Magazine (on November 15 1976, “Its Called Kosher Kungfu, but Imi Lichtenfeld’s new Martial Art is a Deadly Affair”) in his Tel Aviv Krav Maga Gym, Imrich said that when Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo created the sport of Judo, he had to extract the lethal element out of Jujitsu. 

Ironically as well, Imrich started to adopt the Japanese stripe belt ranking system that the theory behind it was translated to progressive steps on the mountain, meaning generally getting better over time.

Over time, Imrich Lichtenfeld with Eli Avikzar have developed a curriculum for the Krav Maga School (Beit Hasefer le Krav Maga). With that curriculum you get a list of all the techniques, you need to practice until you are proficient in remembering how to do it in a sufficient speed and upon command. 

In each technique you will get only one point of emphasis I repeat one point of emphasis, for example the angle of the base foot (the foot the stays on the ground when the other foot is kicking).

Then when you reach the brown belt you had to do a little sparring which amounted to an exchange of strikes and kicks and some rolling on the floor. This is what happens to a student that comes twice a week, do the fitness drills, practice the attacks and defenses and at some point years later does  little sparring. 

To really teach sparring, you need to go back and ensure that the student is applying what he learned previously to the sparring.

If everything that should have been taught was applied to the sparring, the fight would have been straight forward, would have ended in few seconds with a clear advantage and understanding to all parties what had gone wrong and what were the good points.

But since the sparring in civilian Krav Maga (Immi's Dojo style of Krav Maga as opposing to his IDF original Krav Maga, developed for another 20 years by his successor Eli Avikzar) amounted to a low level exchange of punches as you see in other martial arts first time free style Randori, any serious student that wanted to make a career out of this, would have had to search ways to fill the gaps in his training.

The Dojo system was meant to keep life time paying memberships as it does today as well. Krav Maga really gave advantage to people from other Martial Arts and Fighting Sports that could really understand the simplicity and advantage of the basic Krav Maga principles with its thought process.

If you learned from an Israel Defense Force Krav Maga Instructor, not an IDF Fitness Instructor that was trained in Krav Maga, and not a civilian Krav Maga instructor that had no experience in IDF Krav Maga, for someone that went through hundreds of full contact sports fights or street fights, the simple step by step build up approach to train someone through the learning steps to gain the experience of the winners only in a very short time of training.

If you had that kind of experience under your belt, your past memories of 100’s of training sessions and hundreds of fights and missed partying days due to training would reflect in your brain, and you would feel pity for yourself of all the time wasted and nothing much gained.

You would have felt the potency of Krav Maga in its ability to deliver in few hours lessons learned and how you wasted years of training without any conclusion over your past. Otherwise you might think that Krav Maga is like any martial arts, a technique based system.

Let’s say you had your prior training methods from your martial arts, that might have included fitness drills of let’s say 100 men Kumite: where you end up using your intuition figuring out which one of your school member to hurt badly so you can continue in your quest and which one not to.  Your school mates have the same thoughts in their minds to either make it look serious to the instructor, but at the same time to take it easy on you, or try to hurt you badly.

All of this experience takes place under exhaustion and stress, or maybe not since you used to jog 6 miles every day and are used to pain in your bones, and over the years of training, you know your weak points, your strong points, and the safe rules of the game.

While an average dojo would have only few champions, which are those that learned subconsciously to perfected one or two techniques, the rest of the members would be compared to the boxing gym journey men that travel to nowhere in a lifetime.

The idea about IDF Krav Maga is to change that and give the miserable pupils more than a best chance in a two second life threatening confrontation to end the fight and stay alive. In the IDF ranks are minimal and are simplistic.

As for Krav Maga in the IDF, there was not official department when I was there, so to get promoted in professional ranks, which amount to nothing, you would have to take a fitness test. I passed the fitness test to rank 9 in Fighting Fitness Sergeants course. I thought it was a cool stripe reminding of the Dan system but worn on your shoulder and this is where I got my badge idea.

For example for the infantry you would have a circle with crosses rifles on the top embroidered in red thread on a black narrow patch followed with red stripes below. The stripes indicated the level, of your training where 3 stripes would be for three months of basic training and 7 stripes for  those that have completed the intensive Infantry combat training equivalent to E-7  in the American Army.   However, it was  based on topics learned and not the time frame.  But with the intensive time frame and learning that the military conducts, it coincided in synchronization. 

As for my organization, I strive for quality control and do not wish to die and have lack of quality develop in my organization. 

Quality translated to speedy ability of students to defend themselves and teach it to others. I give my 4 stripe instructors a free hand to award from one to three stripes to their students, and I do not give them the authority to create instructors under the name of my organization.

There is no need for them to get promoted if they do not teach. Teaching makes your skills and understanding better. The idea is that if they have 10  that become Pure Krav Maga Instructors, they are entitled to a 5 stripe master instructor, and with 10 more students that become instructors to a 6 level master instructor.   But conducting the additional instructor courses is only a vehicle for them to train intensively additional five days in each time.  If they just seek their own professional advancement and have no room to push for making ten more instructors, then they need to train intensively for 5 more days for each level.

The main idea is to have an organization that provides service to many people to quickly teach them how to defend themselves in danger, not to create an organization that sells Master Diplomas Gi and red belts.

So basically the 4 stripe instructor courses give you the skills to understand, control, manage execute and apply Krav Maga principles and techniques and basic safety in training, and then you can teach them and not something else.

Then the more service you provided to the community the better provider you become and the more experience you gain in both teaching and administration, and with organizing at least 5 instructor courses, you can gain an experience that is closer to a military Chief Instructor and be able to have an impeccable strive to quality control.

At that point you should be able to certify someone to become an instructor. Not that you cannot do it now, but it would not be in Pure Krav Maga.

Once I give someone the Instructor Certificate, I cannot say it will expire in one year. It is stupid. I do not teach knowledge that expires. i teach something that lasts not even for a lifetime but for generations to come. Some people expire slower than others.

The stripe ranking is a modest professional ranking system that prides the wearer only and also a nice marketing tool, but certainly not a journeyman stamped passport.

Note:  When I've left the Israel Defense Forces Fighting Fitness Academy at the role of Krav Maga Chief Instructor, I had no replacement!  The following instructors came from the ranks of civilian Krav Maga with the limitations of a watered down training system!!!
If you are serious about Krav Maga, you should view the complete curriculum training done in 24 hour hourly sessions!

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