Krav-Maga evolved from former Israeli combat methods which had been developed by Jews in Israel before the establishment of the State of Israeli. The main concept of these combat methods was to provide fighting forces with simple and efficient tools that would allow them to protect themselves in real hand-to-hand combat.
Over the years, Krav-Maga has developed into many variants, and may be considered by some not only as a structured fighting style, but also as a complete martial art, a fighting philosophy, a concept, and in some cases as a generic name for Israeli-oriented combat systems.
Exploring the full range of Krav-Maga training variations practiced today allows us to narrow them down to three categories:
As a self-defense system usually offering short courses for civilians. Courses range from 10-lesson courses for girls, 30-hour courses for school children, 8-hour courses for social workers, and so on.
As a combat system designed for soldiers, policemen, security, and intelligence personnel, with short, intense qualifications. For example, in order to become an IDF Krav-Maga, a person doesn't need to have any former experience in Krav-Maga or any other martial art - he/she just needs to have good coordination and verbal skills, and must be able to perform and teach specific Krav-Maga drills. This means that many athletic men and women can become military Krav-Maga instructors in just a few weeks. One should not look down on this qualification, it is very good and specific target oriented. However, these instructors lack the civilian aspects of Krav-Maga (which they simply don't need). For this reason, most military and police Krav-Maga qualifications are not accredited by the Israeli Sport Authority, which is a civilian establishment (the approach is different for military Krav-Maga senior instructors,).
As a martial art, if a person wishes to adopt Krav-Maga training as a way of life and continue to improve his knowledge and technique. Practitioners can pursue Krav-Maga training for many years, including ranking options and belt advancement. On August 11, 1969, Imi received a black belt from the Israeli Judo Federation, after which he incorporated the Judo belt system into civilian Krav-Maga. By this symbolic action, he actually created the first form of Krav-Maga as a martial art. Later, probably due to the development of many other Krav-Maga styles, Imi applied to the Israeli Sport Authority to accredit his style as an authentic Israeli martial art, and in order to differentiate his style from the others he called it Krav-Maga Israeli. Due to several reasons, however, this distinctive act did not work:
On the Israeli Krav-Maga trademark registration form, the Israeli Ministry of Justice commented: "Registration of this mark shall give no right to the exclusive use of the words ISRAELI KRAV MAGA ASSOCIATION and the letters K, M, but in the combination and form appearing in the mark)." This allowed many other organizations to use these words as well.
Eli Avikzar, one of Imi's top students, registered an organization which he called, Israeli Krav Magen Association. This play on words, using the word Magen (defensive) instead of Maga (contact), made things much more confusing for the general public.
Today there are so many entities that use the words Krav or Krav-Maga, in their name, that it is hard to tell them apart. However, all Krav-Maga entities, in any of the above forms, must follow the basic characteristic principles of Krav-Maga. Otherwise, they are only using the name – but not the essence.