The IDF recently hosted its first Krav Maga competition between representatives of elite units. Sixteen units competed, each sending three competitors — one for each weight class. The Maglan unit took top honours, with Paratrooper Brigade’s Duvdevan unit and Lotar counterterrorism instruction unit close behind. Reservists from the IDF’s Combat Fitness Division served as guest judges for the competition.
Krav Maga — or contact combat — was developed in the 1930s and ‘40s by Imrich Lichtenfeld, first to combat anti-semitism in his hometown of Bratislava, then in the service of the Haganah in British Mandatory Palestine. He based the fighting system on his training as a boxer and wrestler, but since 1948 it has grown into a complex self-defense system and has spread around the world.
“We are beginning to train not only the special units and reconnaissance brigades, but also regular infantry brigades in Krav Maga,” Col. Oren Gil, head of the Combat Fitness Division, told the IDF website.
According to Col. Gil, the School for Infantry Corps Professions and Squad Commanders will begin training its participants in Krav Maga as well, so that they may return to their units equipped to teach the martial art.
“A combat soldier, whether he is from an elite unit or from regular infantry, is the only one prepared to contend face to face with the enemy,” Col. Gil explained. “Another weapon at [the soldier’s] disposal is his body – his physical ability. Krav Maga exercises very much contribute to flexibility, quickness and building a stronger body.”
Plans are in place to expand the competition to include all regular infantry brigades next year.