Imi Lichtenfeld

Imi Lichtenfeld

Imrich "Imi" Lichtenfeld (Hebrew: אימריך “אימי” ליכטנפלד; Hungarian: Lichtenfeld Imre; 26 May 1910 – 9 January 1998), also known as Imi Sde-Or (אימי שדאור), was a Hungarian-born Israeli martial artist. He is widely recognized for developing Krav Maga, an Israeli martial art.

Lichtenfeld was born on 26 May 1910 to a Hungarian Jewish family in Budapest in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His family moved to Pressburg (present-day Bratislava), where his father, Samuel Lichtenfeld, was a chief inspector on the local police force and a former circus acrobat; he grew up there.

Lichtenfeld trained at the Hercules Gymnasium, which was owned by his father, who taught self-defense.Lichtenfeld was a successful Swimmer, Boxer, Wrestler, and Gymnast since his youth. He competed at national and international levels and was a champion and member of the Slovak National Wrestling Team. In 1928, he won the Slovak Youth Wrestling Championship, and in 1929, the adult championship in the light and middleweight divisions. That year, he also won the national boxing championship and an international gymnastics championship.

In the late 1930s, anti-Semitic riots threatened the Jewish population of Bratislava in Europe. Together with other Jewish boxers and wrestlers, Lichtenfeld helped to defend his Jewish neighborhood against fascist gangs. He quickly decided that sport has little in common with real combat and began developing a system of techniques for practical self-defense in life-threatening situations.


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