Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984)
The most influential figure on the development of Krav-Maga is probably Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais which in the 1920's discovered the phenomena of the 'unconscious reaction' (later known as reflexive or spontaneous reaction). The Haganah command, detected the potential and granted Feldenkrais a three years budget to train its members. Following this experience, at age 26, Feldenkrais published a book named 'Ju-Jitsu and Self Defense'. This book was the outcome of his insights and experience in hand-to-hand combat, and, his discovery of the 'unconscious reaction' .Feldenkrais book and concept, laid the foundation for an improved fighting regimen and better training methods. In his book, we can note elements such as the simultaneous block and attack, nose-bridge use and, release from front and rear chokes, which were later identified with Krav-Maga.
Gershon Kofler (1906-1941)
Gershon Kofler was the leading figure of hand-to-hand combat in the Haganah and Palmach (the elite fighting force of the Haganah) during 1933-1941 Kofler, published a few books and manuals which contained a wide variety of techniques such as: punching, release from bear-hugs, defense against stick attacks and escapes from ground positions.
Yehuda Markus (1912-1945)
Upon Kofler death in action, Yehuda Markus , continued his work from 1942-1945, until his death. Following Kofler and Markus deaths, their students, published a book named 'Judo Shimushi' (Practical judo) which contained various drills for hand-to-hand combat. The term 'instinctive defense' (which is another way of naming Feldenkrais 'unconscious reaction' concept), also appears in this book.
Meishel Horvitz (1919-2009)
Stick fighting techniques, were developed by a group of people. Headed by Meishel Horvitz who is considered to be the pioneer and leading figure in developing the short stick fighting doctrine. (Horvitz also emphasized the breakdown teaching method in as early as 1940, a method which became one of Krav-Maga distinctive characteristics). In that time courses of short stick fighting, became common for teenagers. These courses were composed of eight lessons of ninety minutes each, total of twelve hours .These short but effective courses, were based on: Feldenkrais concept of 'unconscious reaction', (also referred as 'instinctive defense'), and, further development and adjustment of the simultaneous block and attack concept.
Imi Lichtenfeld (1910-1998)
Imi was a boxing and wrestling champion, born in Budapest. Around the mid 30's Imi lead a group of young Jews to protect the Jewish neighborhoods from anti Semitic attacks; in those years he fought many street fights and gained lots of 'practical fighting experience'.
In 1942 Imi arrived to Israel and was recruited to the 'Palmach' as a swimming and hand-to-hand combat instructor. In 1948 Israel was established along with the I.D.F, Imi was recruited to the Israeli Army as a physical coaching and combat instructor. During the late 1950's Imi became the leading figure in IDF for hand-to-hand combat.
In 1964, Imi retired from the army, and devoted most of his attention to the formation and teaching of a Krav-Maga for civilians, he changed and developed techniques transforming Krav-Maga from a military combat discipline into a civilian martial art. Imi is known and accredited as the founder of Krav-Maga as a civilian martial art.