Krav Maga Lineage

June 6, 2011

What is "lineage"? Lineage is your line of descent from the founder of a system. For many, lineage is 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. 

Linage is something like this; the found was Koto who lived five hundred years ago in Japan. He taught his son Kozo, who taught his own son Kozo Jr, who in turn taught his nephew, who then taught his son in law, who taught his younger cousin Senzo. Senzo then passed this on to his own children for two hundreds 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 fourth 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 way home from work. 

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

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, he was Not  the founder of Krav Maga. See my article on Krav Maga history for the proof). Itay did not mention this name in class nor in our many conversations. We spent hours discussing techniques, yet we never spent any time on lineage. In fact I never knew his exact linage until one of my American students did some research. When I shared this knowledge with Itay - he was quite surprised that I knew his lineages, or 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 all, and it does not change anything.

I make no claims of linage. I make no claims to be a war hero. My teacher taught me never to make false claims (which sadly is the norm in martial arts circles and in Krav Maga in particular).

I teach what I believe is the best Krav Maga and 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 not a sculpture that never changes. 

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 artists, fighters and leaders of our generation. It is the result of working with military and police, SWAT teams and Special Forces from around the world. It is the result of years of study with rabbis and philosophers and absorbing their wisdom. It is the result of studying real life cases and meeting with those involved.  It is the result of listening to the people and hearing their concerns. It is the result of teaching around the world, 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