by Boaz Aviram – 3rd Chief Instructor in direct lineage to Imi Lichtenfeld of IDF Krav Maga
Imrich Lichtenfeld, A European Boxing Wrestling Gymnastics Champion a Jujitsu student and British Soldier trained in Fairburn knife and bayonet hand to hand techniques Teaches Fitness and Hand to Hand fighting to the Israeli Underground, and then becomes the Chief Krav Maga Instructor in the IDF. After many years he opens up a civilian Krav Maga school. After 20 years of Instruction in the IDF, he is replaced by Eli Avikzar his top student, that asides from the knowledge he gets from Imrich, he becomes a master in Aikido and Judo and then helps his Krav Maga Master devise defensive techniques vs. boxing, wrestling, Fairburn Knife Fighting, Aikido and Judo. Most Important is the fact that both constantly look to develop intensive training methods to the IDF in tradition and high requirements of the IDF Instructional level.
As Krav Maga (Hebrew name designated for Imi’s original Hand to Hand Fighting Training System) heads of the Israeli Defense Forces they had the opportunity to test the system with thousands of warriors that many had already mastered one or few martial arts systems including professional wrestling and Boxing.
When Interviewed, Imrich had said that “the minute that Jigoro Kano created the Judo, he had to extract all the lethal elements of Jujitsu.” At the same interview, Imrich had said in his Civilian Krav Maga Gym, that he is trying to modify Krav Maga to be suited to civilians. In addition the Jigoro Kano Belt System and initially Judo Gi in the civilian Gym were adopted by Imrich.
Unfortunately, the minute Krav Maga became civilian and suited to youth, Imrich had to extract all the lethal elements from it. The irony of all is that anything could be lethal, and the best way to be safe is have a complete knowledge and know how to handle lethal threat. In order to train against lethal attack one needs to have a training partner trained in the most lethal attack. From there the question is how to train someone to prevail in a lethal attack when both opponent and defender are trained in lethal attacks. While any confrontation can start in a low level and escalate to a lethal level in matter of seconds, or can start with a lethal level and end in a lethal results three seconds after it started, one needs to learn to respond to the most swift lethal attack, and then use his judgment if possible to control his opponent if caught on time without giving his opponent the option to escalate the fight into a lethal level, and thus avoiding to have the necessity to kill his attacker.
In a political world which is spread anywhere including inside the ranks of the IDF and any civilian organization, top instructors were to choose very carefully who to teach and what to teach. As an instructor of Hand to Hand Fighting your moral obligation is to teach your student how to prevail in a confrontation and so he/she could save his/her life. The IDF Training methods are suited to short term intensive training to prepare its soldiers quickly to a sufficient readiness to combat. To preserve superiority and to prevent knowledge from being given away too quickly causing a rise in political power in the wrong hands, the holding back of knowledge tricked to the Civilian Krav Maga world. While human nature is to reward those who serve you and are close to your table, and to withhold knowledge from those who do not serve you and are not close to your table, many of the IDF training systems were lost when it came to civilian world and at times in the IDF itself. Off course, there is also the personality factor to learn faster and to have a bit more aptitude to develop oneself professionally.
While a student will complete his Krav Maga training in the IDF in one month, he would have to wait 4 years to complete his Krav Maga training in Civilian Krav Maga, and then he would be offered more advanced training. Off course in any profession over time one can find more topics to be discussed, essential topics to be reviewed, elaborated, rehearsed and assured. But the essentials of learning and teaching hand to hand fighting had to be taught in the IDF within a one month constraint in the IDF. Is it feasible? This is what the IDF had allotted to Krav Maga.
For someone that trained instructors in the IDF to get ranks in a civilian association would be a nice social event and professional development but from a realistic enhancement of training methods, and teaching method it would be boring somewhat.
When Imi got older, he was paid respect in his student’s Dojo’s or training halls, as he deserved it and he was always admired by his students as an extraordinary smart and compassionate man. At that point of his life, he would award his students that contributed to his vision to spread Krav Maga around the world in Dan Ranks. However, after his retired in the 70’s he stopped teaching and besides short demonstration and reviews of points he thought were important, he let his students teach for him. The people that held the Keys to the original IDF Krav Maga, and its training methods were Eli Avikzar and his hand picked followers. He had a great sense of assessing personality, and if you did not like him completely, he did not like you completely.
So in reality, Krav Maga training methods were continued to be developed in the IDF, after Imrich retired. The civilian Krav Maga students had no access to them unless they were trained by an authentic ex IDF Krav Maga instructor. And, Imrich spreading of Civilian Krav Maga and rank awards were completely separate from the value of authorities with the Original Krav Maga Training System, a system that was designed to quickly and completely train an individual to prevail against any possible Hand to Hand fighting scenario.
copyright Boaz Aviram 2012