Krav Maga Lineage
By Moshe Katz

June 6, 2011

What is "lineage"? Lineage is your line of descent from the founder of a system. For many, lineage is a justification of who you are in terms of martial arts. For many it is their "Proof" of authenticity, their claim to legitimacy and fame. Lineage is about being able to trace your connection back to the founder of your system of martial arts. Not being part of this lineage cuts you off from the legitimate family.

Lineage is something like this; the founder was XYZ four hundred years ago in Japan. He taught his son, XYZ Junior, who in turn taught his nephew, who then taught his son-in-law ZZY who taught his younger cousin ZZT. ZZT then passed this on to his children for two hundred years until some great-great-grandchild taught it to some American GI who brought the system to the West (probably in some watered down version.) And so forth and so on.

Sadly, lineage actually says very little about you, the individual teacher.

Many of us here in the modern world do not really care much about this sort of thing. To us what matters is very simply – will this training save our butt if someone attacks us on the street.

Personally it does not matter to me if the system came down from the Native American Indians, the Chinese or the Japanese or the Russians or from our Biblical forefathers. I don't really care if you made it up in your grandma's backyard.

When training with my teacher, Itay Gil, for so many years, I do not recall him ever mentioning the name of Krav Maga Instructor Imi Lichtenfeld (incidentally, contrary to popular belief, not the founder of Krav Maga), not in class nor in our many conversations. We spent countless hours discussing techniques yet we never spent any time on lineage. In fact I never knew his exact lineage until one of my American students did some research. When I shared this knowledge with Itay – he was quite surprised that I knew this, and that I cared at all. Clearly it did not matter to him.

So yes, he has direct lineage from Imi, as do I, and no – it does not matter at all.

I make no claims of lineage. I make no claims to be a war hero. My teacher taught me never to make false claims.

I teach what I believe is the best Krav Maga and then I leave it to you, the student, to make the final decision for yourself. Just yesterday I said to a student; "I do not want you to do this technique because 'Moshe Katz told you so', I want you to do this technique because you have become convinced that it is the best technique for you!"

We do not do things exactly as Imi did. He lived and trained a long time ago. Life is not a museum. Krav Maga is alive, it is not a sculpture.

IKI (pronounced Ai-Kay-Ai, or like Eye -Kay- Eye) - (Israeli Krav International) is the result of my many years of training and hard work. It is the result of training with some of the greatest martial arts teachers of our generation and some of the greatest students. It is the result of working with military and police, SWAT teams and Special Forces from around the world. It is the result of listening to the people and hearing their concerns. It is the result of studying many real life cases. It is the result of observing "ordinary" people and seeing what they are capable of learning.

If you like what we offer – join us and train hard. And if you do not – move on. Hopefully you will be richer for the experience.


It's a funny topic to mention. Up here in the Northeastern US, there are a few names that ring out, Chinese Martial Artists(Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Wushu), but as with so many things, it's the artist, not the art. This not in meant in a disrespectful way, but I look at how my students are doing every class, I look at them and see my instruction and direction reflected in them. Lineage is not truly linear, but a result of life experiences and interpretation of what is being taught. There is no particular signature move from my class because all my students are individuals with their own body mechanics.

Lineage doesn't matter that much if you are in a down position and controlled. I can say that I am from a particular lineage, but it's my performance at that moment that matters. The ultimate compliment, my students exceed me. I would rather be in a position where I can say that "x" is one of my students and watch him (impersonal pronoun) succeed in his endeavors and trials. One of my kids dissected a kid from the MMA program, I could not have been more proud of him than I was at that moment. As an instructor, I point to the doors, it is the student that chooses to open those doors.


-Mark Kaufman