Krav Maga History


The history of Krav Maga is as exciting as the system itself. The founder of Krav Maga was Ime Sde Or.

The history is closely linked to the development of the state of Israel and the need for the Israeli military to protect its country in one of the world’s most hostile areas

Imrich ("Imi") Sde-Or*, founder of Krav Maga, was born in 1910 in Budapest.

He grew up in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, in a home where sports, law and Central European education were equally respected.

Imi became active in a wide range of sports. He first excelled in swimming, and subsequently in gymnastics, wrestling, and boxing. In 1928 Imi won the Slovakian Youth Wrestling Championship, and in 1929 the adult championship. That year he also won the national boxing championship and an international gymnastics championship.

In the mid thirties, conditions began to change in Bratislava. Fascist and anti-Semitic groups appeared, determined to upset the public order and harm the city's Jewish community. Imi became the un-crowned leader of a group of young Jews, most of them with a background in boxing, wrestling, and weightlifting. This group attempted to block the anti-Semitic bands from entering the Jewish quarter and wreaking havoc there.

In 1944 Imi began training fighters in his areas of expertise: physical fitness, swimming, wrestling, use of the knife, and defenses against knife attacks. During this period, Imi trained several elite units of the Hagana and Palmach (striking force of the Hagana and forerunner of the special units of the IDF), including the Pal-Yam, as well as groups of police officers.

In 1948, when the State of Israel was founded and the IDF was formed, Imi became Chief Instructor for Physical Fitness and Krav Maga at the IDF School of Combat Fitness. He served in the IDF for about 20 years, during which time he developed and refined his unique method for self-defense and hand-to-hand combat. Imi personally trained the top military units for the IDF during that time.

When he retired he then set about developing Krav Maga so that it could be made available to civilians.

Before his death Imi formally handed over the stewardship of Krav Maga to Eyal Yanilov and Darren Levine.

Krav Maga Ireland Chief Instructor Patrick Cumiskey was personally trained by and is certified by Eyal Yanilov and is certified by Darren Levine. This makes Patrick one of the few instructors in the world who has been certified by both.