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Is Krav Maga a Martial art?

Is Krav Maga Considered a Martial Art? Here’s how it compares

It is important to learn how to defend yourself.

There are many classes you can take that will get you into fighting shape. Aikido, boxing, wrestling, judo and karate are just a few that come to mind.

Krav Maga is another type of self-defense that is quite popular. Developed by the Israeli Defense Forces, it is a mix of aikido, boxing, wrestling, judo and karate.

But is Krav Maga a martial art?

Is Krav Maga a Martial art?

This article will explore the worlds of Krav Maga and martial arts to get you the answer you are looking for.

What are Martial Arts?

Martial arts are defined as any types of sports and skills that have an element of fighting. They usually refer to the sports that are Eastern Asian in origin such as karate, judo, kung fu and kendo.

Martial arts refers to both armed and unarmed sports. For instance, archery and swordsmanship are both considered types of martial arts.

These typically derive from Japan and they are used for combat.

Unarmed martial arts usually derive from China and are used for self-defense.

Martial arts has always been practiced in fighting, war and hunting and each culture has developed their own versions over time.

Many say it was turned into a formal art by an Indian monk named Bodhidharma. He added much of the theories of humility and restraint to the teachings.

Although martial arts have been around, seemingly since the beginning of time, they really took off in the 20th century.

Significant milestones occurred when judo was added to the Olympic Games in 1964 and tae kwon do was added in 2000. In the 21st century, even more attention was brought to martial arts when mixed martial arts became popular.

Is Krav Maga a Martial Art?

Now that you are familiar with what Krav Maga is and what martial arts are, you have probably already ascertained the answer to this question.

However, if there is any doubt in your mind, the answer is, yes, Krav Maga is absolutely a martial art.

Considering the definition of martial arts alone, Krav Maga is a sport that includes elements of fighting, so it 100% qualifies.

It is also heavily inspired by karate, boxing and other martial arts, leaving little doubt that it belongs in the category.

Krav Maga vs. Other Martial Arts

Although the various types of martial arts have their similarities, they have their differences as well. Let’s take a look at how Krav Maga compares to other types of martial arts.

Krav Maga vs. Karate

Karate differs from Krav Maga as it puts an emphasis on humility, restraint, self-discipline and kindness.

Although both karate and Krav Maga promote violence as a last resort, the ultimate goal in Krav Maga is to injure or kill the enemy. Karate does not incorporate the same aggressive psychological teachings.

However, it should be noted that karate can be deadly too. There are certain karate moves that have been known to kill an opponent.

Karate also incorporates a lot of striking movements. These include punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes, hand knives and similar motions.

Also read: Krav Maga vs Karate vs Aikido, history and differences

Krav Maga vs. Aikido

Aikido is quite similar to karate when considering the motions used.

In its psychological teachings, it can be considered almost the opposite of Krav Maga. This is because it promotes the practice of defending oneself while protecting their attacker from injury.

Aikido means, “the way of unifying through life energy”. In this sense, it aims to pacify the aggressor as opposed to causing him harm.

The martial art involves putting the attacker into a position where he can not fight back but it doesn’t include injuring him.

Like karate, aikido uses a lot of striking movements. These include front-of-the-head strikes, side-of-the-head strikes, chest thrusts, face thrusts and shoulder grabs.

Krav Maga vs. Boxing

The biggest difference between Krav Maga and boxing is that boxing is a sport, while Krav Maga is a system of self-defense.

However, the two types of martial arts use a lot of similar moves including footwork, uppercuts, straight punches, hooks and dodges.

It has been noted that in boxing, boxers are more likely to hurt both themselves and the opponent. For instance, when throwing a punch, a boxer is likely to damage his hands.

Krav Maga is aimed at hurting the opponent while remaining uninjured.

Palm strikes and elbow and forearm strikes are often used instead of punching. This is because they are more efficient movements and they are designed to hurt the attacker and not the practitioner.

Krav Maga vs. Kung Fu

Kung Fu does not refer to one specific type of martial arts. Rather, it is a blanket term that refers to all martial arts.

Therefore, those who practice Kung Fu are required to learn all the 72 Secret Shaolin Martial Arts.

As you can probably already tell, Kung Fu takes a great amount of dedication and to truly be a master, you must devote your life to it.

If you want to pursue it, it is essential that you move to China, become a vegetarian and keep your body in top physical shape. In return, you will become a great fighter.

While Krav Maga is a part of kung fu, kung fu has a wide reach including all types of martial arts.

Also read: Krav Maga vs Kung Fu vs Taekwondo

Krav Maga vs. Taekwondo

Of all the martial arts we have reviewed so far, Taekwondo is the only one that initiates fighting with offensive moves.

Kicking is often used including jumping and spinning kicks and high kicks to the head. The kicking movement allows fighters to almost simultaneously deflect and attack their rivals while keeping them at a 4 to 6 feet distance.

One difference to note is that taekwondo is not as efficient as Krav Maga. The movements take a lot of energy. Therefore, it is easy for the participants to become tired.

It is hopeful that the strong movements work to defeat an opponent quickly. If not, a fighter may tire out and become overpowered in time.

Krav Maga vs. Jiu Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu is a Brazilian martial art designed to help smaller fighters take down their opponents. Leverage, chokes and joint locks are commonly used in Jiu Jitsu making it a great mat sport.

Jiu Jitsu is great for neutralizing attacks and it can work well when combined with other martial arts techniques such as strike only fighting.

However, when pinning opponents, you also immobilize yourself. It is for this reason that it is not the best defense if you are fighting multiple opponents or opponents with weapons.

Jiu jitsu differs from Krav Maga in that it is focused on restraining opponents as opposed to attacking them.

Also read: How does Krav Maga compare to Jiu Jitsu and Wing Chun?

Krav Maga vs. Judo

As compared to other types of martial arts, judo focuses on the principle of gentleness.

There are no strikes, punches or kicking involved. There is no application of pressure to the opponent’s joints and weapons are never used.

The basic goal of judo is not to harm the opponent, but to subdue them. This is done by throwing them to the ground with considerable force and speed.

Although judo has elements of gentleness, it requires rigorous physical activity and practitioners tend to gain considerable strength and agility over time.

As compared to Krav Maga, Judo is a much gentler martial art and it is also focused on restraint rather than attack.

Krav Maga vs. Muy Thai

Muy Thai is a form of kickboxing. It uses stand up striking and various clinching techniques.

Because knees, elbows and shins are incorporated, it is referred to as ‘the art of eight limbs’.

As compared to Krav Maga, Muy Thai’s movements are not as efficient. They require a full rotation of the body for each kick, punch, elbow and block. Therefore, fighters may tire out quickly.

Muy Thai is like Krav Maga in that it is an aggressive sport. However, it requires skilled movements that make it similar to boxing.

Also, unlike Krav Maga, over time, Muy Thai has become a spectator sport where as Krav Maga is mostly used for self-defense.

Krav Maga vs. Ninjutsu

Ninjustsu incorporates the tactics of espionage, guerilla warfare and unconventional warfare. Practitioners are called ninjas.

The art was supposedly developed back in the year 522 and was practiced by spies.

Although there is much debate as to what the traditional practice of ninjustsu incorporates, it focuses on the survival techniques. Free-running, disguise, escape, archery, concealment and medicine are also practiced.

Although some elements of Krav Maga may be incorporated into ninjutsu, clearly ninjutsu is much more suited to warfare. And with an unclear definition of the techniques, it’s impossible to accurately compare the two.

Krav Maga is a hardcore form of martial arts, that can get you in good shape when it comes to defending yourself against your enemies.

It has several similarities and differences to other forms of martial arts and it is focused on injuring attackers.

History of Krav Maga

Krav Maga was founded in 1978 by a man named Imi Lichtenfeld.

Lichtenfeld was born in Bratislava as the son of a police officer and a circus acrobat. He excelled in various physical activities including boxing, wrestling and karate.

When anti-semitic riots began breaking out in his hometown, Lichtenfeld moved to Israel. It was there that he began working with many Israeli Special Task Force units.

Once Israel declared its independence in 1948, Israeli Defense Force officials approached Lichtenfeld about developing a system of self-defense.

He began working on Krav Maga, a type of self defense that was based on instinctive, simple movements that made it easy to teach and learn.

In 1964, Lichtenfeld retired from the IDF but he continued to teach Krav Maga to civilians and law enforcement professionals. In 1978, his students founded the Krav Maga association.

This helped spread the word of Krav Maga worldwide.

Once Krav Maga started becoming well known outside of Israel, the International Krav Maga Federation was founded.

This enforced as system of diplomas, grades and levels that would signify a student’s expertise as they advanced. It also established an approved curriculum by which all instructors would teach.

Today, Krav Maga is popular all over the world. There are branches of the IKMF in Europe, Asia and North America. Everyone from beginners to professionals are welcome to learn.

What is Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is a military combat style that incorporates techniques of aikido, boxing, wrestling, judo and karate.

It caters to real world applications and emphasizes an efficiency of movements. The concept behind it is to make simple, practical techniques of other fighting styles and make them easily teachable.

Although Krav Maga teaches its students to avoid physical confrontation, if this is not possible, it is advisable to finish fights as quickly as possible.

Attacks are aimed at the most vulnerable parts of the body and can easily result in a severe injury or death.

Principles of Krav Maga

Some of the basic principles of Krav Maga include the following:

  • Simultaneous attack and defense
  • Developing physical aggression (which is not to be confused with anger but rather emotion the fuels a fight)
  • Striking the component repeatedly until they are incapacitated
  • Attacking preemptively and counterattacking as soon as possible
  • Using any objects you can find to attack your opponents
  • Targeting your opponent’s most vulnerable body parts including eyes, groin, liver, neck, face, solar plexus, knees, feet or fingers
  • Using simple and easily repeatable strikes
  • Maintaining awareness of your surroundings to make note of defense objects and escape routes while still keeping an eye on your opponent
  • Recognizing the importance of instinctive response under stress

In addition, it also teaches students to learn the psychology behind a street confrontation and how to identify potential threats.

It may include verbal and physical methods of avoiding violence and using attacks only as a last resort.

Techniques of Krav Maga

Many of the techniques used in Krav Maga are taken from other types of martial arts and combat sports, including the following:

  • Strikes: These are taken from karate and boxing
  • Take-downs and throws: As per judo, aikido and wrestling
  • Ground work: Taken from judo and wrestling
  • Escapes from choke holds: As per judo, aikido and wrestling
  • Empty hand weapon defenses: Taken from aikido

After reading this article, how interested are you in learning and practicing the potentially deadly art form of Krav Maga?

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