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Imi Lichtenfeld


Founder of Krav Maga, a martial art that focuses on personal defense.

Imi Lichtenfeld (1910-1988)
Imi Lichtenfeld (1910-1988)

Born in Budapest, Imre "Imi" Lichtenfeld (1910-1988) - also known as Imi Sde-Or - was raised in Bratislava, capital of Slovaquia. As his father was head of the local secret service and personal defense instructor, this encouraged him to practice martial arts like Boxing and Wrestling, and also acrobatic gymnastics. Being jewish, Imi became the leader of a group of resistance against anti-semitic aggressors.

These street fighting experiences would represent the first steps towards the creation by him of a new form of self defense.

In 1940, he embarked towards Palestine on a vessel named 'Pencho', which would shipwrecked on the Greek Dodecanese Islands. Imi and only few survivors would be rescued by an English warship and taken to Alexandria.

On his arrival in Palestine in 1942 (after almost serving 2 years in the British supervised Free Czech Legion in North Africa), he became responsable for the physical conditioning and training (which included his new fighting style - Krav Maga) of the Haganah organization and then for the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) after the creation of the State of Israel.

After retiring from the Israeli military in 1964, he modified Krav Maga to fit the needs of police forces and civilians.

In 1978, he founded the Association of Krav Maga in Israel. Imi Lichtenfeld died on January 9, 1998.

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