70 Hungarian postcards to the 70-year-old Israel

Mega Krav Maga

Imre Lichtenfeld  

By Bea Kallos - 2018-02-24

Translated from the Hungarian original: Bea Sara Goll

"Your defense must be faster and simpler than the opponent's attack; otherwise it will not be effective. On the street, surprise and stress will trigger your body instinctively. The Krav itself tries to correct and use these movements to have a maximum effect within a minimum of time ... "


Samuel Lichtenfeld was not only a respected member of the Hungarian Jewish community in Bratislava, but also a circus artist, then a boxer and weight lifter while working as a detective for the police. As a superintendent, he trained his subordinates to self-defense. His wife also had a very active sporting life with swimming, gymnastics, and boxing. Imre Lichtenfeld was born 1910 into this sporty, assertive Jewish medium, and - we could say - he had the love of sports in his genes. His first prize was won in 1928 at the Slovak National Youth Championship and then a year later, he won medals in three international competitions: boxing, wrestling and gymnastics.


By the mid-thirties, things changed, and even in Bratislava the anti-Semitic voices grew louder and sometimes escalated into fights. Imre Lichtenfeld then realized: it did not so much matter that he was an athlete, but rather, whether he could defend himself.  He organized a group of Jewish youths, all of who had a history of combat sports. They wanted to defend the Jewish quarter in Bratislava from attacks by anti-Semitic gangs. The group was active for four years. The roots of what today is known as Krav Maga [contact combat] originated at from that time.

1940 Imre Lichtenfeld had finally left his home country on a ship called Pancho, to Israel, that is, the then Palestine. There were problems on the way: first, Lichtenfeld, risking his own life, jumped into the water to rescue a man who fell in; unfortunately, from this he contracted a terrible ear infection; and when the ship stranded October 9, 1940 on the Aegean, he and four comrades took a dinghy to paddle to Crete for help. After five exhausting days, the British navy unit found the small team and took them to Egypt. Lichtenfeld had surgery, but it was not successful because he got another infection at the hospital and half of his face got paralyzed. Finally, he came to the British Army, where he began serving in the Czech Legion.


Only after two long years he managed to come to Israel, the land of his desires, where he immediately joined the Haganah and Palmach underground movements with his unarmed self-defense method. It was so successful that in 1948 when the new State of Israel and the Israeli Army were formed, Lichtenfeld was instantly employed as a contact person and as a physical education and fitness trainer. He spent 16 years in the army, where he eventually developed the final form of Krav Maga as a formal tactical and self-defense technique.

In 1964, Lichtenfeld retired and started promoting the Krav Maga extensively. He taught his disciples not only to fight, but to embrace Zionism, respect the other, and love the earth, and - to this day, this is repeated in every Krav Maga hall - that the goal is to prevent conflict and not get into showy pointless fights. But if you have no other option then the power is the solution, and Krav Maga is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself.

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