Imi Lichtenfeld was born in Hungary in 1910. His father was a police officer and a former circus acrobat, so he brought Imi up with the self-defense and gymnastic skills that he had honed over the course of his two careers. Imi proved a natural athlete, and would go on to win several boxing and wrestling championships during his young manhood. Being tough was a good quality to have for a Jew in 1930’s Eastern Europe. In response to the threat posed by violent gangs of National Socialists, Imi led a team of fellow pugilistic Hebrews to defend their neighborhoods. Imi quickly learned that boxing and wrestling were not the soundest fighting styles for use in vicious street fighting, however, so he reevaluated the moves needed to deal with armed assailants out only for blood.
Imi invented Krav Maga (Hebrew for “Contact Combat”), a martial art combining natural self-defense movements followed by decisive counterattacks. Imi’s school of fighting proved so effective that the Israel Defense Forces adopted it, and several of its core principles are employed by the United States Marine Corps today. It was in the Marine Corps that Morgan Moberley, the owner and head trainer of North Dakota Krav Maga in Mandan, was first introduced to Krav Maga.
“Krava Maga’s greatest strength is that it changes to adapt to modern combat,” explained Morgan. “Other martial arts like tae kwon do, while completely respectable, are rigid and require assailants to come at you in a certain way to remain effective. If you attempt a roundhouse kick tp the head on an MMA fighter, you’ll be on the ground in a second. Since Krav Maga isn’t bogged down by tradition and set moves, it’s always being altered to deal with new types of threats.”
“Krav Maga combines the quickest, simplest, and most effective techniques of other martial arts like judo, karate, wrestling, and boxing,” Morgan continued. “Whichever fighting stance you would reflexively assume is the same you’d use in Krav Maga as well. Because of that, it’s the most efficient technique to instantly rely on when there’s trouble.”
When you go in for your first Krav Maga lesson at Morgan’s gym, he and his instructors will teach you how to throw basic kicks, punches, and elbow and palm strikes, as well as where they’re most successfully delivered. Once you’re proficient in those moves, you will go on to learn advanced techniques like chokeholds, reversals and knife and gun takeaways.
“We use pellet guns and electrified dummy knives during training,” explained Morgan. “Although they don’t hurt as much, they’ll definitely let you know when you’ve made a mistake. We have students as young as 12 years old who can quickly disarm a grown man.”
“Our students take pride in the fighting skills Krav Maga teaches. I’ve had a lot of students tell me how relieved they’ve been to have known what to do in some hairy situations they’ve experienced. One of my former students, a cop, used the techniques we taught him daily. He left the force because he was tired of all the action, but now he’s a Navy SEAL. I’m not sure how much peace and quiet he’s getting nowadays!”
North Dakota Krav Maga teaches self-defense classes to both adults and children, but focuses on training more appropriate for situations that the latter may experience — how to escape from nefarious strangers, and the like. They also offer Krav Fit USA, an exercise program aimed at getting students into their best fighting form while teaching them some good self-defense techniques as well. If you would like to learn more about the most effective martial art ever devised, stop by Morgan’s gym at 2020 3rd St SE in Mandan, or visit kravfitusa.com.
By David Scheller