Krav Maga was cultivated in Czechoslovakia and Hungary by Imi Lichtenfeld ("Imi Sde-Or" in Hebrew) in the 1930s. Imi was already a champion boxer, gymnast and wrestler, first taught his fighting system in Bratislava to assist in protecting the Jewish community from Nazi militia.
Upon arriving in Palestine, Imi started to teach hand-to-hand combat to the Haganah, the Jewish underground army. When the State of Israel was established in 1948, Imi became Physical Fitness and Krav Maga's Chief Instructor at the School of Combat Fitness of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He served in the IDF for around 20 years, during which time he continuously refined and developed his hand-to-hand.