What is Krav Maga

I am in contact with a lot of martial artists via the internet. Some of them have told me that Krav Maga hasn’t appeared in the Israeli army for about 10-15 years. They claim it isn’t taught any more. Others have asked what I know about Israeli martial arts, in general. Well, with the help of some subscribers to one of my ezines, here’s a little better understanding of Krav Maga.

Krav Maga Still Taught in the Israeli Army?

This is a good place to start: Let’s hear from someone who is there, Nigel Kersh. He wrote, “My son went in [the army] last week, and next week they’re getting Krav Maga lessons. Hopefully, his 11 years experience practicing karate will help.”

Phil Kouse added that “K.M. was developed … for the lower echelon troops … looks like WWll combatives to me.” He also mentioned a higher level martial art, that many think is Krav. (Also, Phil provided the correct term for a practitioner of this art, a “Kravist.”)

Hmm, another Israeli art?

Eric Duncan helped me refine my search, when he said, “Is not the term Krav Maga a Hebrew term that means to fight or something along those lines, much like Kapap?”

Kapap, An Israeli Martial Art for the Elite

And Bingo, a quick look on the internet, and I found that the elite form of Israeli martial arts is indeed Kapap.

Note: Krav Maga means “contact combat.” And Kapap is an acronym for a Hebrew phrase, which means “face-to-face combat.”

So, I did some more research and found several pieces of interest about Kapap:

  • Kapap is older than K.M.
  • It was developed by Imrich Lichtenfeld in the 1940s
  • Lichtenfeld was considered an expert in several arts, including ju jitsu, boxing, and wrestling
  • He used his methods against Nazis and eventually taught his art to elite soldiers (the future Israeli army) (Thanks to an article by Philologos for the information on Lichtenfeld.)

David (no last name) wrote informing me that Darren Levine was the person to bring K.M.

to American law enforcement, but David also mentioned that it doesn’t in any way resemble the original Israeli style.

David likens the Americanized version to what is practiced by “a bunch of primped up soccer moms.”

After more searching, I found that there are at least a half a dozen LARGE organizations, all claiming to instruct Krav Maga. No comment on the individual organizations — simply, some of the forms of Krav Maga seem more faithful to the original style than others.