Imi Lichtenfeld and his leading instructors went about expanding Krav Maga to other free countries. In the late 1970’s, Imi and his instructors traveled to the U.S. to do Krav Maga demonstrations for Jewish community groups. Krav Maga was recognized by prominent members of the American Jewish community as a great vehicle for developing young people as well as connecting with brothers and sisters in Israel.
In 1981, a group of Americans was invited to participate in the first 6-week long international instructor course under the direct supervision of Imi Lichtenfeld. American businessman Daniel Abraham sponsored an American delegation of 23 Americans to attend the course. Alan Feldman, Rick Blitstein, and Darren Levine stood out in this group due to their performance during the course and previous martial arts training. The three served as American ambassadors for the Israeli Association, and Alan Feldman accepted the Eastern Region, Rick Blitstein the Central Region, and Darren Levine the Western Region.
Upon return to the U.S. as certified instructors, demand for Krav Maga instruction was surprisingly high. Krav Maga went from a virtually unknown system to being taught in hundreds of locations in the U.S., as well as being used by (as of 2015) over 500 Western law-enforcement and military groups.
Attempts to trademark and legally own the term “Krav Maga” as well as the “Kuff Mem” logo and requiring that anyone using these acquire a license and pay a fee to an American organization was the cause of disagreement that led to lawsuits and fragmentation of Krav Maga in the U.S. into several different organizations.
It is fortunate that Imi lived to see his system spread to other free countries – Israel’s allies and supporters. Imi had a saying. “Eventually, they’ll all come my way.” This prediction predated the “Reality-Based Self-Defense” movement in the United States by 25 years. Imi didn’t live to see some of the fractures within the community of his senior civilian Krav Maga instructors – most of which have nothing to do with Krav Maga principles, teaching, or technique.
Imi Lichtenfeld passed away in 1998, but his legacy carries on. He stated his vision and reason for creating Krav Maga with simplicity, and elegance: “so that one may walk in peace.”