The Krav Maga Argument

There are many trendy styles of fighting in martial arts and they have several things in common. There are also vast differences. We can classify these into Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Brazillian Jui Jitsu (BJJ) and Krav Maga (KM).  All three are relatively new in terms of how long they have been practiced on the world scene.


BJJ– Although Brazilian Jujitsu has been developing in the small Gracie Jujitsu circles in Brazil for some time now, it was totally unknown outside of these areas until Royce Gracie exploded on the scene with his UFC victories starting in 1993. Since then BJJ has spread like wildfire. Today it is an integral part of Mixed Martial Arts.

BJJ & KM combined in street self defense.

MMA – Mixed Martial Arts, is closely related to BJJ. When BJJ fighters were submitting and defeating all other fighters such as Karate, TKD, Judo, Akido etc. practitioners, fighters realized that they need these grappling skills. With some basic grappling skills they were now able to use their striking skills more effectively and knocked out BJJ guys. Quickly the obvious conclusion was reached that a combination of different martial arts, as stated by Bruce Lee decades ago, is the most effective. Thus was born MMA; striking, grappling, take-downs, submissions, Thai Kicks etc.

Krav Maga – Krav Maga began in a basic form sometime during the 1930’s but only during the past twenty years or so has it become known outside of Israel. Today it is used by law enforcement and civilians all over the world.

All three styles broke with tradition in certain ways. They all broke new ground and challenged existing ideas and concepts. All three are cutting edge.


MMA and BJJ are sports, Krav Maga is survival training.

MMA and BJJ are amazing, powerful, and exciting sports but no one will tell you that they are designed for self defense. When should you question certain applications of these submissions?  The answer is always!  Submissions are part of an overall strategy, a game of cat and mouse. You must set up for an arm bar and it is really not designed for real-life self-defense. The strategy towards victory often is complicated and involved with many intricate strategic details. The fight is not designed to be over in 5 or 10 seconds.

BJJ and MMA are sports – You are a top athlete at the peak of your career. You are prepared for a fight; you know a fight is going to take place. You know who your opponent is. Odds are you have seen much footage of him or her. You are prepared, rested, and ready to go.

Krav Maga is not a sport –   It is reality training for the following; you are not a top athlete, you are not at your peak. You are not prepared for a fight, you have no idea you are about to be attacked. You have no idea whom your opponent is; you have not seen him fight before. You are unprepared and tired. That is a huge difference.

One on One or Multiple Attackers – UFC matches, K-1 etc. are always one on one. In the street you cannot count on this. You might be attacked by a gang or it might start out as a single attacker but others quickly join in. Can you imagine grappling with a guy and then suddenly you feel a swift kick to the ribs or a bottle smashing over your head? What was that? It was his friend. Does that change the “game”, yes indeed it does. Krav Maga plays by the rules of the street; there are no rules, there are no time outs, there is no white towel, no ref, and no judge. This changes everything quickly and drastically.

Weapons – It is highly unlikely that in a UFC match a fighter will pull out a knife while grappling. In a street fight this is not only possible it is highly probable. Most people who get killed in bar fights die from stab wounds. Tempers get heated, a fight breaks out and someone pulls out a knife, when you least expect it. This can, and does, happen on the ground as well.  BJJ and MMA are not designed to address these street realities. They train you to look for a leg lock, an arm bar, but not a gun or a knife, or another guy with a crow bar or steel toed boots. That is a huge problem.

Surface – MMA fighters train for take-downs. Can you imagine the impact on your knee if you do that on concrete? You don’t need an opponent; you just crushed your knee all by yourself. Similarly there are many BJJ techniques that involve using the mat. On the street there may be nails, rocks, even a pebble can make most ground techniques very painful to do. Can you imagine “rolling” around on the mat when that “mat” is actually the pavement. Can you imagine doing all your transitions and flips on hard concrete? Again, wake up call, life is not a sport.

Simplicity –  Grappling and submission wrestling takes a great memory. There are so many techniques to learn (which makes it fun and interesting to learn and to teach). But unless you train on a daily basis you might tend to forget many of the details and only remember the basics. So, if you had to use this in a real life situation, how much would you be able to use effectively? How well would this training serve you if your life was on the line? Krav Maga, on the other hand, is based on simplicity, it is better for a real life encounter it is far more effective. Since many Krav Maga students are not full time martial artists, they do not have the time to master the many intricate details of the grappling game. The simple gross motor moves of Krav Maga, are easier to remember. And you train to use them in real life situations, effectively. For all these reasons it is important to separate sport from survival training and reality from stage. For sport and competition there is no substitute for MMA and BJJ. For real life self-defense, for the average person there is no substitute, for Krav Maga.

Cardio-conditioning – Krav Maga would NOT be an effective discipline to train in for cage fighting. If the fight is designed to be over in 5 to 10 seconds, where do you think your cardio would be after a 3-minute round? All disciplines have their place. MMA and BJJ are for the cage. KM is for the street. It all depends on what your goals are. Do you want to get into great shape and learn an art-form or to you want to be able to defend yourself?


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