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MMA vs Krav Maga; A Pointless Argument

Updated on July 3, 2017
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Mamerto I. Relativo Jr. is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. When he is not blogging, he does fiction writing.

People will compare everything nowadays, from heroes to gadgets. And now, so-called keyboard warriors have a new topic to debate about. Why would I think that comparing fighting styles are pointless? Pro fighters stopped doing that in the early years of the UFC, but that’s not the case in the battle grounds of online forums. People claim that Krav Maga is better than Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA; others will laugh on how Krav Maga will be useless in the octagon. But the fact that certain styles have a specific purpose, and people had their reason why they practice such arts makes this argument laughable.

Krav Maga and MMA, a brief recap

I don’t have all day so I’ll make this really quick

MMA is full contact sports that allow stuffs like striking, grappling and throwing. Finds could end with a knockdown or submission. We have various mixed style competition back in the early days of 20th century, but MMA as we all knew it today didn’t materialized until the birth of Ultimate Fighting Championship. Originally it is an inter-style martial arts contest that later evolved into multiple disciplined fighting.

Krav Maga on the other hand was developed by Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfield. He was a boxer and a wrestle tasked to defend the Jewish against raving fascists in Czechoslovakia. From his experience in the street, he later developed a fighting system that takes the simple and practical techniques of multiple martial arts and combined it into one easily teachable system. This is how Krav Maga was born.

Based from their origins, we could see how these styles differ. One started as a form of contest, the other as a means of street combative. From that we could see why comparing the two is meaningless.

Techniques and Training compared

Now being a famed fight sports, MMA is known for its variety of moves. Unlike many combat sports, practitioners are allowed to kick, punch, elbow, knee, and grapple and throw each other. Overly lethal moves are illegal like blows to the back of the head. Fighters go to an extensive training, much like a pro boxer to condition their body to the rigors of combats.

In the case of Krav Maga practitioners are also trained to strike, but in areas banned in sports fighting. Yes, the back of the head, groin and other sweet spots are fair game. What’s more Krav Maga practitioners are allowed to gouge eyes and attack pressure points. The objective here is to survive a fight using any means. Most of their training also include escaping a fight and deescalating a conflict.

Fight experts noted how Krav Maga lacks the extensive ground game of MMA. MMA practitioners are masters of ground fighting with Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and wrestling as part of their discipline. Some Krav Maga schools don't have the brutal physical conditioning of an MMA fighter. Yet MMA training lacks situational awareness or the use of objects lying around in the street as a weapon. And do you know that Krav Maga practitioners spar with multiple opponent? And no MMA school will teach one how to disarm knives and guns!

The Two Styles are Meant for Different purpose

You might just compare a screw driver and a wrench and decide which one is better. The two fighting arts are created for a specific purpose. MMA is sports, period! People do MMA for the spirit of competition Fights occurred in a controlled environment with sets of rules and governed by a referee. Imi Lichtenfield on the other hand came up with Krav Maga as a form of survival arts. Yes, a fighting style that allowed people not to win but to survive an encounter. In fact at some point fleeing is more preferable than fighting. This difference between the two meant that their fight doctrines and some techniques are unique to one another. There is something one style had that the others don’t.

Based on the comparison we made above, we could see that as a street oriented fighting style Krav Maga is craftier and dirtier. It is ideal for ending a fight quick and allowing a quick escape. Empty handed engagements are addressed, so too are armed opponents through its disarming tactics. The lack of ground game means that a fighter must stay upright to avoid getting mobbed by multiple, and sometimes armed opponents. And to avoid a fight before it started, practitioners develop situational awareness and de-escalation skills.

A competitive combat sports like MMA don’t have multiple and dirty fighters to worry about. Fights are a one on one duel in a protected environment governed by rules and a referee. This allowed the use of ground games and fights could be more technical. As much as people claim that the sports are violent, it is nothing to the brutal real life encounter. With that said MMA don’t need disarming, situational awareness or multiple opponents sparring. Yet with those hours of training, an MMA fighter is an imposing sight to behold. And do note that Krav Maga practitioners only do basic striking; they lack the complex combination and fight techniques an MMA master could unload.


The two arts have their ups and downs. They are superior at each other and inferior all the same. Try putting the two arts in a situation they are not meant to and they will fail miserably; Krav Maga will lose in the cage while good luck protecting yourself against a knife with MMA. Nevertheless we see countless people cheering at the latest MMA bout, with fighters showing their best in the cage, as the knowledge of Krav Maga saves a soldier in the field. Again the fact that they did the job well meant they are successful in their fields. As for the self-proclaimed fight experts who got nothing else to do, put the Doritos and Mountain Dew down, leave your desk and try the two arts yourself so you will know.


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