From 1948 through 1963, Imi developed and refined his own methods of self-defense and face-to-face combat, all while training Israeli soldiers in those same techniques. During that period, he personally qualified the best fighters of the most elite units of the IDF. In 1963, when Imi finally retired from military service, he had already begun to modify the style with the goal that it could be used by anyone. In order to promote this method, he opened two centers, one in Tel Aviv and one in Netanya. From then on, Imi’s life would be dedicated to training future generations of students and to the expansion and refinement of the style. It was during this time that Imi, like many Eastern European Jewish émigrés to Israel, adopted the Hebrew version of his name, becoming Imi Sde’Or, the direct translation of Lichtenfeld (field of light).
In addition to its role as the official style of the Israeli Defense Force, the Israeli Security Forces, the Israeli Police Department and Military Police, and the Anti-Terrorism Forces, Krav Maga would rapidly become an integral part of elementary and high school education for Israeli youth, and a national form of self-defense meant to empower all Israeli citizens as they tended to their day to day activities in sometimes volatile and dangerous surroundings.
In 1978, the Krav Maga Association – and Imi’s Method, was created. The purpose of this organization was to establish a non-for-profit body that that would promote the purity of Krav Maga, while allowing it to develop as the national defense method. The goal was to create an organization that would be non-partisan, non-political, and independent of other sports organizations: the single highest authority for Krav Maga. The founders of the association were: Imi Sde’Or (President), Barak Yehoshua (Head of the Professional Committee), Tsvi Morik (Secretary), Haim Zut, Eli Avigzar, Rafi Algrisi, Haim Gidon, and Oskar Klein. In 1980 the name of the Federation was changed to the Israeli Krav Maga Association.
In the early years there were few power struggles. Disagreements among the founders were minor, and were settled as the differences of a family would be. Imi had veto power and was a dominant, highly respected figure. With the proliferation of the style and the emergence of the second generation of members, however, came larger internal disputes and disagreements. The main subjects of contention were the management of the organization, differences in opinion over the efficacy of techniques, and, most importantly, struggles over individual stature. These internal conflicts became the impetus for the creation of splinter organizations teaching the Krav Maga style under different names and without quality control.
The fundamental motives of the art are: don’t get hurt, be humble, and conduct yourself appropriately (with dignity). Reach proficiency so that you won’t have to take lives. In other words, the first thing that a practitioner must do is to attempt to avoid the confrontation, however, if he is being attacked, he must respond with a minimum of equal force, and with a minimum of equal impact, in order to neutralize the threat and extract himself from danger.”