Do you know which self-defense training style has roots in Czechoslovakia? Expat Hub got the chance to talk with Mike Handa, founder of Krav Maga Prague. Read further to learn more about Krav Maga’s history and its spread worldwide.
Arising From Chaos
From the Bratislava ghettos to the Israeli battlefields, Krav Maga grew out of adversity. Imi Lichtenfeld was a Jew in 1930s Czechoslovakia. His Bratislava neighborhood experienced anti-Semitic crime at the hands of facists. In response to the threats on his family and neighbors, he and a group of fellow wrestlers developed a new fighting style: Krav Maga. Translated as “contact combat” in Hebrew, Krav Maga quickly disarms and immobilizes attackers. Litchenfeld’s background was in boxing, gymnastics, and wrestling. In addition to that, his father was a police officer. This inspired him to combine disciplines and build a Jewish resistance force in the midst of World War II.
When Israel was founded in 1948, Litchenfeld developed the training program of Krav Maga for the Israeli Defense Force. With his help, it gained popularity worldwide. It spread through the military ranks, into the police force, and finally to the public. It is still a foundational technique used in the IDF, as well as the Czech castle guards and military.
Just Another Form of MMA? Not so Fast…
Krav Maga for civilian use differs a bit from MMA: it crosses the threshold from theory to street-confrontations. It doesn’t shy away from techniques that sport-fighting or MMA would call “playing dirty,” like groin kicks and using weapons. Krav Maga was born on the streets and trains its students to survive at all costs. The approach is that what you are learning in the gym needs to be applicable outside of the training arena.
Krav Maga Prague
Mike Handa trained as a kickboxer and worked for a casino as a doorman in London. While living there, he saw a lot of street crime. After watching a docu-series episode about Krav Maga, he saw the potential it had to empower the average person against this kind of violence. He extended his self-defense training to include Krav Maga and has been teaching it in Prague for several years.
His gym’s philosophy is focused on sustainable development: training should build a foundation for life-long success in self-defense. Newcomers can come out of shape, with no experience, and expect to receive training at an appropriate level. The average trainees at Krav Maga Prague are normal people, from all walks of life, looking to be more confident. This isn’t limited to their ability to defend themselves, but extends into their professional and personal lives. KMP’s students are mostly fellow foreigners, and they benefit from the networking and social bonding that comes with training together.
All classes are taught in English, and their morning class is growing in popularity. By getting a workout in the first thing in the morning, you can start the day energized. Exercise is known to boost your confidence, and your evenings can remain free for maintaining a social life and spending time with your family. Check out Krav Maga Prague and learn appreciation for this Czechoslovak self-defense discipline. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.