How Did Krav Maga Begin? The Story of Imi Sde-Or

Krav Maga began with a single man - Imrich Lichtenfeld, who later took the name Imi Sde-Or. 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. Samuel Lichtenfeld, Imi's father, was a unique figure. At the age of thirteen, he joined a traveling circus, and for the next twenty years engaged in wrestling, weightlifting, and various demonstrations of strength. For him, the circus was also a school in which he met people involved in a wide variety of sports. These people taught Samuel what they knew - including various martial arts.

With his father's encouragement, Imi became active in a wide range of sports. He first excelled in swimming, then in gymnastics, wrestling, and boxing. In 1928, Imi won the Slovakian Youth Wrestling Championship, and in 1929, the adult championship (in the light- and middle-weight division). That year, he also won the national boxing championship and an international gymnastics championship. During the 1930s, Imi's athletic activities focused mainly on wrestling, both as a contestant and trainer.

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. In 1940, having become a thorn in the side of the anti-Semitic local authorities as a result of his activities, Imi left his home, family, and friends and boarded the last immigrant ship that succeeded in escaping the Nazis ' clutches. The vessel was an old riverboat named Pentcho that had been retrofitted to carry hundreds of refugees from Central Europe to the land of Israel (then called Palestine).

Imi's journey to Israel was not a smooth one, but he survived and persevered, and in 1944, he began training fighters in his areas of expertise: physical fitness, swimming, wrestling, use of the knife, and defences against knife-attacks. During this period, Imi trained several elite units of the Hagana and Palmach (the striking force of the Hagana and forerunner of the special units of the IDF), including the Pal-Yam and 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 approximately twenty years, during which time he developed and refined his unique method of self-defense and hand-to-hand combat. After he concluded his active duty, Imi began adapting and modifying Krav Maga to civilian needs. The method was formulated to suit everyone - man and woman, boy and girl, anyone who might need to save a life or survive an attack, all while sustaining minimal harm. This system was designed for everyone and every type of threat - whether criminal, nationalistic, or otherwise. To teach his method, Imi established two training centres, one in Tel Aviv and the other in Natanya. Imi, a teacher, a fighter, and a great human figure, passed away on the 9th of January 1998 at the age 87. His successors continue to disseminate his teachings throughout Europe and the entire world.

What is Gabi Noah International Krav Maga (IKM?)

Operating world-wide, IKM was founded in 2009 by Gabi Noah. Gabi trained directly with the founder of Krav Maga itself,

Imi Sde-Or. With over forty years of training experience, Gabi is a Krav Maga Master. Rafi's association with Gabi and IKM

allows us at The Academy to train with Gabi during his visits to Canada from Israel.

IKM clubs provide civilian group classes, private tuition,  seminars, and courses for instructors, the military, law-enforcement

personnel, and VIP security-guards. Tour-and-training events are arranged in Israel through IKM, and are a nice way to

learn Krav Maga and tour Israel at the same time. Addtionally, there are annual P-, G-, and E-level camps held in Israel

and around the world.                    

IKM offers training to men, women, and children.

 More information about IKM can be found at 

There are several advantages of being associated with a well-established and widely-recognized Krav Maga organization, one headed by a Master who studied directly under the founder of the discipline, Imi Sde-Or. 

Academy students benefit from the fact that their curricula are based on decades of training. Gabi's updates to the curricula derive from almost fifty years of his experience in Krav Maga and its real-world application on the streets. 

There are professional advantages as well - belonging to a long-standing global organization means that all instructors certified under IKM must undergo rigorous education and testing, and must participate in continuing education. IKM demands that all instructors worldwide participate regularly in classes as students themselves, meaning that their understanding and performance of techniques are always current.

With the increasing popularity of Krav Maga, it is important to know that your training, your school, and your teachers are committed to professionalism and authenticity. IKM provides students with the closest possible link to the origins of Krav Maga and ensures that you'll always learn legitimate, up-to-date material safely and efficiently.

Gabi Noah, founder of IKM Krav Maga

Krav Maga Training