Imi Sde Or - The founder of Krav Maga
Imrich ( Imi ) Sde-Or (1910-1998), founder of Krav Maga, was born in a Hungarian Jewish family in Budapest in the Austro-Hungarian Empire . He grew up in Bratislava, Slovakia's capital, with a father who provided him quite an unusual childhood. Samuel Lichtenfeld, his father, was a chief inspector on the Bratislava police force and a former circus acrobat.

Excellence in sports

Imi Sde Or engaged in a wide range of sports, such as swimming, boxing, wrestling and gymnastics. He trained at a Gymnasium owned by his father, who taught self-defense. Imi excelled in all sports achieving the Slovakian Youth Wrestling Championship in 1928 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.

Imi's background

In the mid-thirties, Imi Sde Or led a group of former boxers and wrestlers to defend his neighborhood from Fascist and anti-Semitic groups who were threatening the Jewish community. Encountering as many "street fights" as he did, Imi quickly realized that sport had little in common with real combat and began developing a system of techniques for practical self-defense in life threatening situations.
As things got worse, in 1940 Imi fled his homeland, and headed towards Palestine in 1942. At his arrival, Israel's early leaders recognized Imi's fighting abilities and in 1944 he 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. After the establishment of Israel in 1948 and the formation of the IDF he became Chief Instructor for Physical Fitness and Krav-Maga at the IDF School of Combat Fitness. Imi 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.

Krav-Maga for everyone

In 1964, Imi Sde Or retired from the Israeli military, and began adapting and modifying Krav-Maga to civilian needs. The method was formulated to suit everyone - men and women, boy or girl, who might need it to save their life or survive an attack while sustaining minimal harm, whatever the background of the attack - criminal, nationalistic, or other. To disseminate his method, Imi established two training centers, one in Tel Aviv and the other in Natanya. He trained teams of krav maga instructors, who were accredited by him and the Israeli Ministry of Education. He also created the Israeli Krav Maga Association in 1978.



Avi Moyal - Director of IKMF
Avi Moyal (1966), student of Krav Maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld (RIP) and Eli Avigzar (RIP), is one of the four leading Krav Maga authorities in the world (Expert level 6) and currently the head instructor and director of the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF). He is currently also the leading expert and authority in Israel in teaching Krav Maga in the governmental sector and serves as Advisor to the Minister of Sport and Education in the area of Krav Maga and the former Chairman of the Aguda (the very first Krav Maga organization).

Experience and Achievements
  • 35 years teaching experience in Krav Maga
  • Received his "Expert degree" in 1985 and joined the IDF Marines.
  • Completed his Officers training with excellence,
  • Served as a Platoon Commander in a Terror Demolition Unit.
  • Acquired many combat hours and experience while commanding subordinates on special operations in Lebanon including highly specialized missions behind enemy lines with various SWAT units.
  • provided VIP protection for a high ranking IDF General and an intelligence officer.
  • served as a Reserves Platoon Commander in a special operations unit.
Special Projects
  • In 1993 Avi served with a group of security personnel assigned as the pop star Michael Jackson's personal bodyguards in his visit to Israel.
  • In 1994 he founded a VIP Protection unit for a private body in Brazil.
  • In 1995 he was assigned by the Israeli Prime Minister's Office to train its workers in Krav Maga.
  • In 1996, after numerous homicides and attempted hijackings and robberies of taxi drivers in Israel, Avi Moyal was at the head of a project that instructed taxi drivers in self-defense and active "skid-car" handling. After the course, the numbers of attacks have depleted drastically.
  • 1998 was a time period of attacks by the infamous rapist - Beni Sella. Among his victims were dozens of young Tel-Aviv women. Prior to his apprehension, Tel-Aviv City-Hall recruited Avi Moyal to lead a project that trained Tel-Aviv women in self-defense. The course was highly successful, and it taught hundreds of women to defend themselves from sexual assault using everyday items. In the end of that year, Beni Sella was caught, prosecuted and incarcerated.
  • During his work with Tel-Aviv City-Hall, after a few cases of violence, he ran a highly successful self-defense course for the city's parking inspectors.
  • Today Avi and his wife have four children, and he is the Chairman of the International Krav Maga Federation which runs seminars, workshops and courses for the private and public sectors. Avi continues to spread the Krav Maga system to the Far-East, Europe and America, as well as to many different military forces and Executive Protection units across Europe and America. He also continues teaching his many pupils in Israel.

One of the things that make Avi such a renowned and respected authority in the world of Krav Maga is his vast "real world" experience. He has proven IDF combat experience as an officer as previously stated and has also provided VIP protection in the civilian arena for world famous entertainment personalities such as Michael Jackson.
Avi has also published a booklet about Krav Maga for grade school pupils, which is one of his areas of expertise. It is distributed throughout Israel, and it will soon be translated and published abroad.