OUR JOURNEY : ISRAEL - CANADA - INDIA
In 1948, when the State of Israel was founded and the IDF was formed, Imi became Chief Instructor for Physical Fitness and Krav Maga at the IDF School of Combat Fitness. It was later, in the 1960s, that the potential for Krav Maga to improve the lives of civilians in non-combat roles was recognized. Over time, the civilian program became more nuanced and more dynamic, leading to the comprehensive curricula that we have today.
Refael Rafizada-Kashani (“Rafi”), our Co-founder, inspiration and chief mentor/instructor of Krav Maga International Association (KMIA), was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and raised in Rishon LeZion. Growing up in a rough neighbourhood led Rafi at a young age to be introduced to Eli Ben Ami, one of Imi Sde-Or's original students of Krav Maga. Eli was to become Rafi's first coach and a tremendous influence on his lifelong passion for Krav Maga. In fact, Rafi spent the decade prior to his army service training with Eli and Gabi Noah, another of Imi's original pupils. Rafi had reached expert level by the time that he reached the army, and while serving, he taught soldiers the critical techniques and skills of military Krav Maga. In fact, Rafi cites the tough, no-excuses training that he pursued with Eli and Gabi as the reason that he found army life relatively easy. Not long after Rafi concluded his five years of service in the IDF, he seized the opportunity to move to Canada to pursue new opportunities. This nutshell overview brings us to the next step in our journey.
The Canadian Story
Rafi's first introduction to Canada happened to be exposure to the country's (in)famous winters...in a t-shirt. It might have been enough to turn anyone back to the warmth and sunshine of Israel's coast, but Rafi persevered. Within a few years, he had begun to work with a burgeoning Krav Maga studio in the Toronto area. Krav Maga itself remains a niche discipline in Canada, not as well-known as traditional arts like karate or Jiu jitsu. Rafi saw an opportunity to bring this life-changing training to a new market, and did just that by opening his own schools in the Greater Toronto Area.
While Rafi has been in Canada, he's seen an increase in the levels of violence here, and he's been a timely part of raising awareness of Krav Maga. As more and more citizens seek out ways to improve personal safety, so too do members of law-enforcement in a professional capacity. They see Krav Maga as a practical tool that they, themselves, can learn quickly and easily, not needing to rely on chance or luck for their safety. Today, Rafi's Canadian studios boast hundreds of members and are active in community outreach. He has built a solid team of Canadian instructors and provides corporate training to major organizations.
The Indian Story
How does one begin in Israel, establish roots in Canada, and arrive in India? In our case, it’s all about family. We've often been asked what makes our program so different. Above all, it's the calibre of training that we offer, paired with the family atmosphere that our team creates everywhere that we go. We take the core tenet of Krav Maga very seriously: everyone has the right to live life without harm and fear. Our team approaches training from a sincerely "human" perspective, getting to know each and every student and family personally. In this way, Rafi and his instructors have heard direct feedback from the many Indian expats who attend classes in Canada, recollections of life in India that could just as easily have been set in Israel.
The more that we heard from these students, the more we realized that there’s a genuine need for community-based safety training that begins with the youngest children and extends all the way to effective law-enforcement programs. There’s a desire for this sort of education so that families in India can feel just as empowered as our families do in Canada.
KMIA - Krav Maga International Association - was founded as a way to bring authentic, expert Krav Maga training to Indian citizens - to you, personally, directly in your own community. Rafi and his instructors bring decades of experience in Krav Maga with them, establishing schools that empower individuals and create a sense of cooperative, healthy community.