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Krav Maga was first developed before World War Two by Imi Lichtenfeld, a Jew who wanted to defend himself on the tough streets of Bratislava. After Lichtenfeld immigrated to Israel, he codified his method into the system known today as Krav Maga. Unlike traditional martial arts, there’s no specific theology or methodology. It relies instead on using street smarts and senses to deal with the problem at hand, neutralize it accordingly and successfully escape.
Krav Maga has been used by special police forces worldwide – adapted and developed for their needs with the assistance of the IDF. Television show 24's Keifer Sutherland demonstrates it well, showing how this Israeli martial art how spread.
Yael Arad’s silver medal for Judo at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics ushered in Israel’s first Olympic medal after a 40-year drought and helped heal some of the wounds of the 1972 Munich Games when 11 Israeli team members were massacred by terrorists. The last few years have involved the gradual rebuilding of the team as a whole, peaking with 44 athletes sent to the Beijing 2008 Games. And Judo has remained a sport to follow – Ariel Zeevi followed Yael Arad to medals in both international and local competitions and has helped inspire a new generation of young athletes, including the newest name to make it on the international stage, Alice Schlesinger.
Taekwondo is another growing sport in Israel. The Israel Taekwondo Federation has representatives at all levels of local and international competition – from youth to adult and disabled athletes as well. The year 2009 marked both an Israel win on the European Junior circuit as well as the Para-World Championships.
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