Krav Maga popularity rising in Los Angeles Dojo
By Joey Seymour
LOS ANGELES — Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s is being overrun by a Nazi invasion. The 15,000 Jewish inhabitants of Bratislava are being harassed daily by brutal acts of anti-Semitism and will soon find themselves being sent to concentration camps. One resident, Imi Lichtenfeld who had been proficient in boxing and wrestling, develops a new way of defending himself against the Germans. He calls his fighting style, Krav Maga. In Hebrew, Krav means “combat” and Maga stands for “contact” or “touching.” Lichtenfeld begins to teach this method to others in Bratislava. However, it is not until 1948 when Israel becomes a state, that Krav Maga is studied on a wide scale.
Israel is young in 1948 and begins to establish her military. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are created to protect the state and Imi Lichtenfeld is named Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga at the Israel Defense Forces School of Combat Fitness. Recruits begin to learn the survival tactic which focuses on four main objectives:
- Counter attacking as soon as possible.
- Targeting attacks to the opponents most vulnerable points.
- Neutralizing the opponent as quickly as possible.
- Maintaining awareness of surroundings while engaged in combat with the goal of developing an escape route, keeping an eye out for further attackers and objects that could be used to defend or help attack.
Lichtenfeld served in the IDF for fifteen years all the while refining and retooling the art of Krav Maga with the intention of making it the best system for self defense in the world. Today, the IDF continues to utilize Krav Maga, while always looking to improve it. The technique is also being utilized in America by the FBI, various police squads (including the NYPD), SWAT, United States Special Operations, as well as being taught to the general public by highly skilled instructors such as Roy Elghanayan, founder of Krav Maga Los Angeles.
Imi Lichtenfeld died at the age of 88 in Netanya, Israel on January 9, 1998. Of his legacy, Elghanayan said, “He made life easy in many ways. He showed us the way to a safe life by founding Krav Maga. Krav Maga is a way of life and we need to be tested when it comes to survival.”
Roy served as a member of IDF and is the only two-time Israel Krav Maga National Champion. “I first started Krav Maga back in 1993 In Israel. The style of my dojo in Israel was not only Krav Maga, but also Israeli Ju-Jitsu. Israeli Ju-Jitsu is a combination of updated Krav Maga and modern Ju-Jitsu. It is great for multiple attackers,” mentions Elghanayan.
He was named both Israeli and United States Chief Instructor of Authentic Krav Maga. Elghanayan has earned the highest possible ranking in Krav Maga, Black Belt DAN 3. “It took me 10 years to become a 1st degree Black Belt and also an instructor. Today I am a 3rd degree black belt,” stated Roy.
There are seven levels one can attain:
Level 1: Boot Camp Training (White Belt)
Level 2: Basic Training Part One (Yellow Belt)
Level 3: Basic Training Part Two (Orange Belt)
Level 4: Intermediate Training (Green Belt)
Level 5: Advance Training Part One (Blue Belt)
Level 6: Advance Training Part Two (Brown Belt)
Level 7: Black belt Training (Black Belt)
Roy began teaching in Los Angeles three years ago and says, “My ultimate goal in teaching Krav Maga is helping people believe in themselves by teaching them the real authentic Krav Maga. If I can make a change in one student’s life, that change will be the beginning of a new way of life.”
Not only is Krav Maga gaining popularity among fans of martial arts, but it is widely regarded as a great fitness exercise and thus, many people are discovering Imi Lichtenfeld’s style of defense as a remarkable tool for getting in shape. On a recent episode of The Simpsons, the family travels to Israel and Bart is taught a tough, but humorous lesson in Krav Maga by a local girl working on her military service. Bart calls out for his assailant to “quit going for my groin.” As she continues to kick, she states, “No groin, no Krav Maga.”
Roy Elghanayan is finding great success in his dojo. His classes are almost always full of eager students wanting to learn from the master. Ages range from young children to older adults. Roy even believes that Krav Maga is a useful tool for athletes to either utilize while on the playing field or during preparation, “First, it would help the athlete become more alert and aware of the surroundings. Secondly, with Krav Maga athletes can prepare themselves to be aggressive and defensive both mentally and physically.” One such athlete that is planning on utilizing Krav Maga on the football field is San Diego Charger, Antonio Garay.
When asked if he plans to teach in San Diego, Roy says, “San Diego would be a great place to do a seminar, I have yet to visit but I am always willing to introduce people to Krav Maga everywhere.”
Krav Maga may not have the storied history of Asian martial arts, but it is a defensive art form that was born from necessity for Jewish survival and continues to embrace its importance through usage by many facets both in Israel and aboard. For more information on Roy Elghanayan and his dojo, visit http://kravmagasantamonica.wordpress.com/
Joey Seymour is a sports historian and Author of “San Diego’s Finest Athletes: Five Exceptional Lives.” His book is now available through Sunbelt Publications at www.sunbeltbooks.com.
Contact Joey Seymour at email@example.com