Friday, November 26, 2010

Krav Maga: Israeli Self-Defense Goes Global


Getting pummeled by three men with kicks, punches and jabs is not how I typically spend my vacation. Yet there I was on Military Base 8 defending myself from a trio of Israeli attackers. But my assailants — brothers Avi and Shlomi Moyal and Haim Sasson — weren't trying to rob me, they were simply doing their job: training me to protect myself via the increasingly hip Israeli self-defense technique known as Krav Maga.

Literally "close contact" in Hebrew, Krav Maga has its roots in 1930s Europe, where its founder, Slovakia-born Imi Lichtenfeld, developed the martial art to protect himself from anti-Semitic street gangs. A decade later, Lichtenfeld had immigrated to Israel, where he introduced his distinctive fighting system to the nation's then fledgling military, which made it part of its combat training. Today, Krav Maga is a veritable international phenomenon, with the Los Angeles–based Krav Maga Worldwide offering instruction to over 230 civilian affiliates in 17 countries and 500 law-enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. Embraced by the FBI and SWAT teams alike, Krav Maga is also a staple of high-end gyms across the globe, where a faster-paced and less-combative version provides a workout that could literally save your life. [...]

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