IS NOT ALONE ANYMORE
of you who read www.realfighting.com are Krav Maga practitioners.
Lately some of you may have been hearing about other Israeli martial
arts systems that you never even knew existed; terms such as KAPAP,
Hisardut, LOTAR, Krav Magen, and others. You may be asking yourself,
do these systems even really exist, or are they fabricated to ride
the successful coat tails of Krav Maga? Ever since I wrote a feature
article for Black Belt magazine about the Israeli martial arts,
it has created quite a stir in the Krav Maga communities.
I found this out just recently when I went on some of the chat rooms to catch
up on the "chatter" about the Israeli martial arts. What I found were a lot
of accusations, people upset that other Israeli martial arts were cropping
up, and a lot of confusion in general. Well, since this hornet's nest seems
to have been stirred up by me, quite unexpectedly I might ad, it is obvious
that I have a responsibility to shed some light on this Israeli martial arts
controversy. After all, I'm the one who introduced the Israeli fighting system
of KAPAP (Krav Panim l'Panim - face-to-face combat) to the United States and
Canada by bringing Major Avi Nardia over here to train police and military
units back in 2001 and 2002.
First of all, let me start by saying that I have trained in KAPAP, Krav Maga
and Hisardut, and I myself have taught at the Wingate Institute for the Israeli
Defense Forces (Bahad 8) in Netanya, Israel. This was authorized by the head
of the Krav Maga Department for the IDF, Mr. "S" (I will keep his name confidential).
I have also taught at the University of Tel Avi for Lt. Col. Chaim Peer (a
KAPAP/Krav Maga instructor), and I have taught at the Israel Police Operational
Fitness Academy at Havatselet Hasharon, Israel, authorized by Colonel Gidy
Lind. I have also spent time interviewing the Who's Who of the Israeli martial
arts, in Israel, that include Dennis Hanover, Eli Avikazar, Moni Isaac, Mr. "S," Gaby
Michaeli, Moshik Keidar, and Avi Beier (he wrote the book SELF DEFENSE which
was published by the Israeli Ministry of Defense ISBN 965-05-0682-9).
I am probably one of the few foreigners in the world who has been allowed
to train Israeli police and military units, and who has had access
to not only the people who shaped the arts, but
I have also visited historical locations associated
with the birth of the Israeli martial arts such
as the Palmach cave. The important thing to know
about me is that I believe that no single Israeli
martial art is above another. They are all interrelated to one another, and
they are all valuable for those seeking a "reality-based" self-defense system.
I have met Darren Lavine (Krav Maga USA), I have trained extensively with
Alon Stivi (Hisardut USA), and I have trained many Europeans who are in the
International Krav Maga Association.
The bottom line is that everyone I have mentioned, and every system named,
is excellent, and my goal in researching and studying the Israeli martial
arts was not to create divisions, but to enrich the system and to educate
practitioners. Although, I myself have studied a few Israeli systems, I do
not teach any of them. For those who know me and my work, I teach my own
REALITY-BASED PERSONAL PROTECTION incorporating Israeli techniques and training
methods where needed. Therefore, I am unbiased when it comes to reporting
and talking about KAPAP, Krav Maga, Hisardut and other Israeli arts.
overlapping my last Black Belt article, I will
give you a brief, and I do mean brief, history on the birth of the
Israeli martial arts. Prior to World War II the first term used for
hand-to-hand combat by the underground Israeli
Army called Haganah (the Hebrew word for defense)
was "KAPAP." This
acronym did not point to one particular system, but referred to a mixture
of rigorous physical conditioning, firearms and explosives
training, radio communications, wilderness survival
training, combat first aid and foreign language courses
(the enemy languages of German and Arabic). The hand-to-hand combat training
was a combination of Western fighting systems such as boxing (London Prize
Ring Rules), Greco-Roman wrestling, and standard British military knife
and baton training.
the Palmach cave they even trained extensively
with thick 6' staffs because they were in short supply of firearms.
Another term that was born around the same time was the term Krav
Maga (Krav meaning combat or fight, and Maga meaning touch or contact).
In context the term means Contact Fighting. This term was used as
a generic term, like we use the term "fighting." Some soldiers called
their training KAPAP while others called it Krav Maga. It is no different
than terms used in today's U.S. military. Some American
military personnel refer to hand-to-hand combat as "Combatives" while
others call it "Close Combat." Still
other names for it is "Line Training" or "Defensive Tactics."
my military and law enforcement training and
experience extends back two decades I understand each term equally,
and they all mean the same thing to me. To somebody just now getting
into the military they will probably not use the term "Line
Training," because it was slightly before their time.
If you get down to it, you could split hairs and say
that "Line Training" is more
Marine oriented, and "Combatives" is originally from the Army,
but the differences will be negligible. The same holds true for
the terms KAPAP and Krav Maga in the early days (prior to the 1970s).
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War (the Egyptian and Syrian invasion
of Israel), an Israeli combat commander, Second Lieutenant Moni Isaac,
lost most of his platoon during a Syrian ambush in the Golan Heights.
Only seven men out of 64 survived. Lt. Isaac had to be reassigned
to another unit. Instead of sending him to another combat unit, the
army saw the need to develop a program to teach their soldiers to
be better prepared for hand-to-hand combat, and decided on making
Moni Isaac a training instructor because of his judo and ju jitsu
background (by 18 years old Moni Isaac had won 6 Israeli championships).
Imi Lichtenfeld (approximately 50 years old at the time) and Moni
Isaac (a mere 20 years old) were placed together to come up with
a basic hand-to-hand combat program. Imi Lictenfeld was teaching
at the Wingate Institute for the IDF, but lacked combat experience.
Moni Isaac had the combat experience and the martial arts background.
criteria for the program was that the system had to be simple, easy-to-learn,
take little time to master, and most of all be combat effective.
With the help of other civilian and military
instructors, Lichtenfeld and Issac experimented
with hundreds of techniques and training methods
at Wingate and at Edmond Buzglo's martial arts
school in Tel Aviv, who was also a student of
Imi Lichtenfeld at the time.
When the curriculum was finalized the two men pondered
on what to call the new military system. Imi Lichtenfeld
wanted to call it Krav Maga. Moni Isaac wanted to
call it KAPAP. They were both adamant about sticking
with each name, but finally came to an agreement.
As Moni Isaac told me in an interview, "Imi
wanted it (the name) simpler and wanted the name Krav Maga. From that moment
on Krav Maga was for the general army, and KAPAP was for Special Forces." Once
the name was decided upon Krav Maga would be the official label for the basic
hand-to-hand combat system that new recruits would learn, along with follow-on
training, and KAPAP would be synonymous with SF training. Imi Lichtenfeld is
ultimately credited for the creation of modern Krav Maga because of his senior
status at the time, and because he was the first official chief instructor
of Krav Maga for Bahad 8. Moni Isaac was more than happy to stay out of the
limelight, for as one of his students, Joel Gerson put it, "Moni
is intensly private."
Imi Lichtenfeld stayed on with Wingate for 20 years, and also
expanded Krav Maga by teaching it to Israeli citizens with the
help of his top instructor Eli Avikazar; who at one time was
also a military Krav Maga instructor. Moni Isaac went on to become
a Major in the IDF, then immigrated to Canada where he was to
open up one of the most successful martial arts schools in Toronto.
Some years later Eli Avikazar had a doctrinal
dispute with Imi Lichtenfeld, but to this day
will not say what it was all about out of deep
respect for his former master. The result of
the impasse was that Eli Avikazar broke away
from Krav Maga and formed his own offshoot called
Krav Magen (Hebrew for fight shield).
Around 1975 Dennis Hanover, a South African immigrant
to Israel in 1960, contributed to the Israeli military
martial arts in a significant way. His background
was in ju jitsu and kyokushinkai karate. He was neither
a Krav Maga instructor nor a KAPAP instructor, but
was commissioned by the army to contribute to the
new counter-terrorist program called LOTAR (deriving
its name from the counter-terrorist school Lochama
Be'Terror), because of his innovative teaching style.
He had created his own system called Dennis Hisardut (Dennis
for his first name, combined with the Hebrew word "survival").
For the past three decades Dennis has trained a wide variety
of government entities, plus thousands of Israeli citizens.
Now in his 60's, Dennis has a thriving martial arts school
in the city of Herzliya.
goal of any student is to surpass their master. That's precisely
the story of Avi Nardia. Currently a Reserve Army Major in the IDF,
Avi Nardia is himself a legend in Israel; not among the civilian
populace, but among the SF units and specialized
police units. His instructors above him were
Chaim Peer, Moni Issac, and Shukee Ron (a Thai
boxer from Holland), not to mention his own father
who was in the elite unit known as Unit 101 commanded
by Major Ariel Sharon, the current Prime Minister
of Israel The unit was tasked with infiltrating
enemy lines and launching devastating raids in
the 1950s. The hand-to-hand combat training for
the unit was referred to as KAPAP.
Nardia started his military career as an active
duty Airborne officer. Within those five years he served in several
combat tours in Lebanon, and operations along the Syrian, Jordanian
and Egyptian borders. After his military service
Avi Nardia pursued his life-long dream and studied
Japanese karate, ju jitsu and kendo in Tokyo,
Japan for seven years. Returning to Israel, Avi
Nardia joined the secret counterterrorist unit
YAMAM (equivalent to the FBI's Hostage Rescue
Team), which is a branch of the Israeli Border Police,
Green Police." For several years he served as both
as an operator and Kapap/Lotar/Krav Maga instructor.
Any operator who has gone through his counterterrorist
training knows him as one of the toughest, yet
no nonsense, instructors in all of Israel. He has
trained numerous Israeli and foreign special forces
When I met up with Avi Nardia in 2001 he had just
left the YAMAM and was a Police Tactics and Defensive
Tactics instructor at the Israel Police Operational
Fitness Academy at Havatselet Hasharon. In fact,
just months before I met him in Jerusalem, he had
ordered one of my video tapes, Police and Military
Edged Weapons Defense, and invited me to Israel to
train the instructor cadre there. I accepted, and
taught a couple of courses. It was a great experience,
and my Israeli hosts were quite hospitable. In return
the Academy granted me my desire, and that was to
learn Israeli firearms methods firsthand.
A few months later I had Avi Nardia, and another
operator (who must remain unnamed), flown out to
California to instruct several law enforcement agencies
in Israeli counterterrorist methods. This was just
before 911, and most of the students thought Avi
was "nuts." Not that his teaching was not informative
or relative to their jobs, but Americans at that time could not understand
the Israelis' harsh attitude and methods against terrorism. Students just shook
their heads in unbelief when Avi told his "war stories." Yet, the techniques
he taught were supreme, and everyone went away with new "tools" for
their tool bag.
flew Avi Nardia out to the United States a second time, and this
time he was accompanied by Uri Kaffe (a Reserve Police sniper and
former Israeli Border Police sergeant). This was post
911 and everybody took the training a little
closer to heart. Avi and Uri also went to other
states to teach their tactics and KAPAP.
When Avi Nardia came out for the first time to the
United States in 2001 he had no idea that Krav Maga
was flourishing in this country and in Europe. He
had never heard of the American instructors who were
teaching the system, and he was actually more curious
on whether the civilian version lined up with the
original military version. On his second trip to
the States he made it a point to visit some schools
that were teaching Israeli-based styles. The bottom
line was that some schools were, and some were not.
Of course, just like Japanese karate or Chinese kung-fu,
the further you go from the source the more changes
and adaptations take place.
Avi Nardia was perfectly content living and working
in Israel. However, I suggested, especially after
the wake of 911, that he come up with a civilian
version of KAPAP. At first he was very reluctant,
but a few months later he phoned me up and started
entertaining the prospects. As a friend, I told him
that I would lend any assistance that I could. I
didn't expect any money, a cut, or even fanfare.
He had shown me a great time in Israel on a couple
of my trips, and I was extending the same courtesy
to him. To my surprise, Avi told me that he would
come to Los Angeles, take a leave of absence from
the military, and live in the States for two years
to establish his modified version of KAPAP, and to
offer an expanded version of LOTAR to police and
Since his arrival several months ago, Avi Nardia
has been teaching his arts to civilians and government
entities alike. Once he started doing this, many
saw him as a threat. Yet I know Avi, and he does
not bad mouth any system, and certainly not American
Krav Maga. One must not forget that he too is a Krav
Maga instructor certified by the Israeli Defense
Forces. I told him to forge ahead with his KAPAP
plans, because people would not see him as trying
to replace Krav Maga here in the States, but merely
as offering an add-on system to those who have studied
Krav Maga or Hisardut. It's like when people come
to me wanting to study my Reality-Based Personal
Protection, I am thrilled when they want to study
a variety of systems outside of mine. How else will
they know is what out there, how to make educated
comparisons or to evaluate their instructors?
Nardia is not a threat to the current Israeli systems established
in North America and Europe, but he is bringing to the table what
few Israeli instructors can not, and that is techniques and training
methods that, up until now, have been only for a
select few. KAPAP and LOTAR are systems that make
the Israeli martial arts only that much richer. Although
Avi is a personal friend of mine, I don't hesitate
sending students to Darren Lavine or to Alon Stivi,
because I have seen these men teach, and they have
my full endorsement. On the flip side, I've seen
some pretty lousy Krav Maga and Hisardut instructors
as well, whom I shall leave nameless. Let's face
it, an art can be good, but a good instructor is
everything - just like a good school teacher.
The big question is why don't I personally teach
under Krav Maga, Hisardut, or even KAPAP? After all,
how many people have had the exposure to the Israeli
systems like I have? My personal philosophy is much
like that of many of the instructors who helped form
the Israeli martial arts, and in the words of Avi
Nardia, "The original concept of Krav Maga was to absorb all that is useful." Does
this sound familiar? This was also the
same philosophy of the late great Bruce Lee when
he was forming the concepts of his Jeet Kune Do.
One must remember that several ancient Western
and Eastern systems were the foundation of today's
Israeli martial arts. I believe that Reality-Based
Personal Protection is the final achievement of
that goal for civilians. Black Belt magazine and
I just finished filming 8 videos and DVDs on this
very subject. The series will be released January
1, 2004. I even have Uri Kaffe, whom I mentioned,
appearing in one of the tapes titled TERRORISM
SURVIVAL. Throughout the series I affectionately
mention Krav Maga, as well as other arts. I do
this because the Israeli martial arts are a part
of me. They're a part of my history, and especially
since I've taught and learned in Israel itself.
Therefore, I give credit where credit is due.
I hope this brief explaination has cleared some things
up, and if anything, at least you know who some of
the "other players" are in the small community
of Israeli-based systems. So, now as the
Israeli soldiers say in combat, "KADEEMA!" -
go forward; be thankful for the variety.
Wagner is a world-renowned American law enforcement officer and Defensive
Tactics instructor. He has been both a guest instructor of the Israeli
government, and a student in a variety of Israeli Special Forces
tactics course. He has also trained in Krav Maga, Hisardut and Kapap.
Jim is a monthly columnist for Black Belt magazine offering his views
on high risk issues through a police/military perspective. Contact
Jim Wagner through his site: www.JimWagnerTraining.com.