In 1963, when Imi retired from his military service, he continued to modify the style with the goal that it could be used by civilians.
He created techniques that did not rely on what the military units can rely on. Civilians do not function in a unit, there are no fellow soldiers for support.
In order to promote this method, he opened two centers, one in Tel Aviv and one in Netanya. From then on, Imi’s life would be dedicated to training future generations of students and to the expansion and refinement of the style.
It was during this time that Imi, like many Eastern European Jewish émigrés to Israel, adopted the Hebrew version of his name, becoming Imi Sde’Or, the direct translation of Lichtenfeld (field of light).
In 1972, the first civilian course for Krav Maga was offered at the School for Trainers at the Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports.
Wingate is a world-renowned training center for Israeli national and Olympic athletes that falls under the auspices of the Israeli Ministry of Sport and Education. It remains the ultimate authority for martial arts in Israel.
In addition to its role as the official style of the Israel Defense Force, the Israeli Security Forces, the Israeli Police department, Military Police and the Anti-Terrorism Forces, Krav Maga would rapidly become an integral part of elementary and high school education for Israeli youth. It became a national form of self defense meant to empower all Israelis in sometimes volatile and dangerous surroundings.
In 1978, the Federation for Krav Maga and Self Defense – Imi’s Method, was created.
The purpose of this organization was to establish a body that would promote the purity of Krav Maga, while allowing it to develop as the national defense method. The goal was to create an organization that would be non-partisan, non-political, and independent of other sports organizations: the single highest authority for Krav Maga.
The founders of the federation were: Imi Sde’Or (President), Barak Yehoshua (Head of the Professional Committee), Tsvi Morik (Secretary), Haim Zut, Eli Avigzar, Rafi Algrisi, Haim Gidon, and Oskar Klein. In 1980 the name of the Federation was changed to the Israeli Krav Maga Association.
In the early years there were few power struggles. Disagreements among the founders were minor, and were settled as the differences of a family would be. Imi had veto power and was a dominant, highly respected figure. With the proliferation of the style and the emergence of the second generation of members, however, came larger internal disputes and disagreements.
The main subjects of contention were the management of the organization, differences in opinion over the efficacy of techniques, struggles over individual stature.
These internal conflicts became the impetus for the creation of a number of splinter organizations teaching Krav Maga with and without quality control. Many of the initial members left the Israeli Krav Maga Association to create their own organizations.
An unfortunate fact in the martial arts community is that once a style becomes popular there are people who take short cuts; to attaining rank, to teaching and to opening schools. All of this is driven by the desire to make money. Selling out of course means the destruction of a style.
In the 1980s, in a disappointing turn of events, a watered down version of Krav Maga began to be taught in the United States which gave a false impression of the art. Unfortunately, this is the way most people became aware of Krav Maga. Many people saw dollar signs without taking into consideration proper training, respect, honesty or decency.
This introduction was not made by a martial artist, but rather a businessman.
There are now many schools that teach what they call Krav Maga which neither the founder nor true practitioners of Krav Maga would recognize. Few organizations teach the true art, and there are many low level practitioners teaching without the depth of knowledge needed to do so effectively.
Rhon Mizrachi’s Federation protects the pure art of Krav Maga by producing highly skilled Krav Maga practitioners and well rounded martial artists.
“ Success in the martial arts results from the correct execution of many details. Misunderstandings and short cuts usually spread faster than truth.”
– CK Chu