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Krav maga vs jiu jitsu vs wing chun

Krav Maga vs. Jiu-Jitsu vs. Wing Chun | Fighting styles explained

The need to live a healthy lifestyle has never been more emphasized than now and people all over the world are getting excited to enroll in ultimate fitness gyms and do cardio, tae bo (tae kwon do boxing), muay thai, static and dynamic strength training, pilates, workouts tailored for boxers or at least close to it, triathlon and other well known martial arts.

While martial arts teaches physical fitness to the point of sometimes extreme physical workouts it also teaches self-defense, which is an extra benefit considering the times.

In this post, I’ll look at three popular self-defense classes: Krav Maga, Jiu-Jitsu and Wing Chun.

Krav maga vs jiu jitsu vs wing chun

The Brenan Center for Justice published a report about crime and violence in America from 1996 – 2016 and it showed that modern society is not quite as safe as we’d like to think.

Even though the overall crime rate has declined as indicated in the report it doesn’t change the fact that crimes, especially violent crimes, are merely rising and falling year-in and year-out.

The report outlines that in 1991 there were 716 violent crimes per 100,000 people recorded in mainland USA, but has dropped to only 366 per 100,000 people in 2016.

Okay, this may seem like good news but if you’re one of those victims of the 366 violent crimes, I bet that you’d beg to differ.

Better safe than sorry, right?

My sentiments exactly!

While we can’t stop crimes from happening collectively, we can certainly prevent ourselves from becoming the next victims of a violent crime that could potentially harm or kill us.

The first line of defense is self-defense through martial arts mastery. And that’s why even police officers are training martial arts as part of their training regimen.

For Your Consideration

So let’s talk about the 3 most practical martial arts techniques in a real life-threatening situation that may involve a violent crime and you’re at the receiving end of such a crime.

Which one of these 3 is the best martial arts technique that will help you put down your attacker/attackers quickly and efficiently?

The 3 fighting styles that we’ll be discussing include:

  • Krav Maga
  • Jiu Jutsu
  • and Wing Chun

In this article, we will look at how each combat discipline defends against a threat or multiple threats in the streets or in urban areas where the defender will have to rely on himself or herself completely in order to get on top of the situation, stay alive and come out of it unharmed.

Krav Maga Principles and Combat Tactics

Krav Maga is an Israeli fighting style and self-defense that was developed for the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), intelligence agencies and their security forces.

The Hebrew words Krav and Maga roughly translates to “contact combat” or full contact self-defense.

It was developed by Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld to help his fellow Jews in Hungary against anti-Semitic Nazi sympathizers who occasionally bully the Jewish community there.

The Israeli Military wanted a fighting system that borrows from the most simple and practical techniques of other fighting styles and to make them rapidly teachable to military conscripts.

The result became one of the most lethal and violent forms of martial arts that’s easy to learn yet very effective in the field.

Krav maga compared to jiu jitsu

Fighting Styles that Krav Maga Borrowed From

Krav Maga is influenced by several forms of martial arts techniques as one could say that it is the better offspring of these martial arts.

Boxing became the basics for Krav Maga punches, dodges and counters, although the new and streamlined Krav Maga fighting style of today looks nothing like boxing, to the trained eye some of the basic stances of Krav Maga resembles boxing a lot.

Wrestling is also fundamental to Krav Maga as it is mostly used when defending against an enemy, especially those who wield a knife.

The first thing a Krav Maga practitioner does in defending against knife attacks is to pin the attacker down as quickly as possible, remove the knife from his hand and use it against him, or knock him out unconscious.

Joint locks and submissions are still very much a part of Krav Maga; however, if the opponent proves to be a real threat, the Krav Maga fighter may resort to incapacitating or killing him to prevent him from causing any more harm.

The grabs and throws techniques of Krav Maga are borrowed from Judo.

Usually, the basic self-defense moves of Krav Maga is to block an incoming punch, grab the opponent, throw him to the ground and pin him down, then deliver a devastating blow to key areas (preferably the head) in order to incapacitate him, so he won’t be able to recover and retaliate.

If you can see a pattern here, then you’ll notice that wrestling and judo were used in this scenario. You can check out these Krav Maga courses to learn more.

Karate is seen in most of Krav Maga’s blocks and counter-attacks techniques as well as kicks, punches, elbow and knee strikes that can cause severe damage to the opponent.

Aikido is also heavily incorporated in most of Krav Maga’s fighting styles as can be seen in disarming attackers wielding knives, swords and other stabbing weapons as well as firearms.

Right around the 1980s and 1990s Krav Maga also incorporated other martial arts that are practical for realistic fights and this included FMA (Filipino Martial Arts) that was probably inspired by TRACMA (Trovador Ramos Consolidated Martial Arts) founder Trovador Ramos (one of the very few people who sparred and defeated Bruce Lee).

Jeet Kune Do as Bruce Lee’s martial arts style is also designed for real street fights and alley brawls. FMA has excellent techniques on how to disarm attackers with weapons like knives, other bladed weapons, and guns while Jeet Kune Do has techniques that allow for one man to fight multiple opponents.

It’s Easy to Learn

The one thing that separates Krav Maga from all the other martial arts is that anyone can learn it pretty quickly. Some say that it can be learned in as little as 2 weeks and they could be a dangerous fighter already.

Remember when the Israeli Military stated that they wanted something practical and useful and make them rapidly teachable to military conscripts?

Well, that’s exactly what Krav Maga is and in all Krav Maga schools developing this martial arts skill takes only a few weeks to a few months to master, unlike other fighting styles.

And you’re never too old too learn (read more)

However, even after a year or so of mastering the art of Krav Maga, your techniques will not improve beyond the limits of a pure aggression response.

Wing Chun – A Peek Into the 72 Different Fighting Styles of Kung Fu

Yes, you read that right, the traditional Chinese martial arts known as Kung Fu teaches 72 different kinds of martial arts techniques, and yet mastering even just one of them already made Yip Man (Ip Man from the Chinese movies starring Donnie Yen) a very dangerous one-man army capable of putting down up to 2 dozen opponents at a time.

Wing Chun is a southern style Kung Fu close range combat and is especially effective once the opponent enters the striking range of the Wing Chun fighter.

Wing Chun roughly translates as “eternal spring” which is also associated with other southern Chinese martial arts variants, including Yong Chun and Weng Chun Kung Fu.

Why Wing Chun Became a Successful Fighting Technique

The principle behind Wing Chun is to not meet the opponent on his strongest side which is face to face, but attacking him at his weakest point or what is also referred to as “asymmetrical warfare” in military combat tactics.

The Wing Chun practitioner must always attempt to put the enemy 30 degrees offset to his front in order to deny him his maximum striking advantage, which incidentally is also where he can put all of his striking power.

The opponent thus has the disadvantage as the Wing Chun fighter can attack from his left or right temple side with both arms and feet, whereas he can only fight back or block using one of his arms.

By repeating this combat strategy the Wing Chun fighter can engage up to 2 dozen opponents at a time and put them all down efficiently in 10 minutes or less.

Another advantage of Wing Chun is that it emphasizes on securing the fighter’s center of gravity always, build a strong defense and fight defensively in order to keep one’s self-safe at all times if possible, and counter with lighting speed maneuvers to deliver a single cripling blow or multiple blows to key areas and ensure that the opponent is neutralized.

Wing Chun does not use kicks unless absolutely necessary and based on Donnie Yen’s portrayal of Ip Man’s fighting style, most of his kicks are targeted from the midsection down to the legs and he rarely performed high kicks all throughout the films.

It can be surmised that the logic of such attacks is to weaken the opponent’s center of gravity, thus making it easier for the Wing Chun fighter to put him down.

Where Wing Chun’s Techniques Doesn’t Apply in a Real Fight

The martial arts superstar, Bruce Lee, was a student of Ip Man himself and Lee’s core martial arts techniques are undoubtedly still Wing Chun – even his famous 1-inch punch is based on Wing Chun. However, he also found some weaknesses in Wing Chun and described it as “a fancy mess” in his own words.

This plus his seemingly defeat from Shaolin Kung Fu Master Wong Jack Man back in 1964 prompted Lee to train in other martial arts in order to get stronger.

Being frustrated with the pattered martial arts techniques that he learned, he developed his own “non-patterned” and philosophy-based fighting style called, Jeet Kune Do and like his fury, which is known to many, his martial arts too was as lethal as it can be.

It Takes Years to Master

Contrary to Krav Maga, Wing Chun requires years of training in order for you to become a better fighter.

One Quora respondent answer to the question about which martial arts technique is better, Krav Maga or Wing Chun tells all about Wing Chun. He said after years of training in Wing Chun,

You are a master of hand to hand combat, and can control nearly any opponent, and decide how you dispose of them at your leisure.” – Randy Aimone

This statement is further substantiated by YouTuber MASTER WONG in one of his videos entitled, Is wing chun effective in a street fight? He demonstrates why Bruce Lee and other people were wrong in saying that some of Wing Chun’s tactics are useless in a street fight.

It is believed that Bruce Lee was referring to the “chi sao” and other basic drills of Wing Chun, but MASTER WONG completely destroyed this notion in the video demo.

A Wing Chun master is not to be trifled with indeed!

Krav maga compared to wing chun

Jiu-Jitsu: Functional Self-Defense for the Samurai

Jiu Jutsu or colloquially Jujutsu (as it is commonly used in Japan) is a martial arts technique developed to teach ancient Japanese warriors to engage and defeat armed and armored opponents like the samurais, ninjas, and other bandits.

The samurais actually trained in this fighting style so that they could still fight even if they’ll lose their weapons during combat, or use Jiu Jutsu to defend against enemies until one could pick up another sword in the battlefield and continue fighting.

The Japanese words (柔術) jūjutsu means “flexible art” or “pliable technique” which suggests about the nature of the martial arts and that is to make one’s self-flexible against the opponent’s attacks in order to defeat him.

Evolution of Jiu Jutsu Techniques

Jiu Jutsu has evolved over a period of 700 years in its development but the techniques of all ryū-ha followed three principles:

  1. The first principle is attacking the pressure points on the human body and this includes arterial blows, strikes, and tendon attacks, which can be very dangerous especially if enough or more force is applied in executing the technique. It is believed that some people have actually died when they were at the receiving end of the kyusho.
  2. The second principle is using fewer blows and strikes to take down an opponent as having mastered the jutsu. The Jiu Jutsu fighter doesn’t need to exert so much effort in defeating his opponent.
  3. The third principle is the highest of the 3 and is also referred to as the “enlightened jutsu” or “merciful jutsu” as uses no strikes or blows at all. The Jiu Jutsu practitioner only blocks all attacks and defends his self effectively. Masaaki Hatsumi is one of the Jiu Jutsu masters that demonstrated how to execute the third principle of this technique.

Why Aikido is Very Similar to Jiu Jitsu

In ancient feudal Japan that started sometime in the 1300 AD at a time in Japanese history where near-constant military conflict was common due to social upheaval and political intrigue, the art of Jiu Jutsu was born.

The need for this kind of martial arts technique became self-revealing to the samurai warriors when their long Japanese swords were almost useless in close combat battles in the field.

They realized the obvious fact that striking attacks on an enemy that was wearing armor had no effect and so devising a technique that focuses more on throwing, immobilizing, joint locks and choking proved to be a better fighting option than striking them.

Looking closely at the fighting style that was developed for Jiu Jutsu one can almost tell the similarities between this technique and Aikido.

Well, actually Aikido is a derivative of Jiu Jutsu and about half-a-dozen other martial arts including:

  • bartitsu
  • hapkido
  • judo
  • Brazilian jiujutsu
  • sambo
  • kajukenbo
  • krav maga
  • kapap
  • pangamot
  • and kenpo.

Check out this YouTube video of the Hokutoryu Jujutsu fighting style demonstration and you can see that some of the moves shown here are similar to the other martial arts mentioned above:

How Effective is Jiu Jutsu in a Real Street or Close Combat Battle (CQB) in Urban Settings?

Based on the YouTube video above there is no denying that a Jiu Jitsu expert embroiled in a real fight and got serious would cause so much destruction that his/her opponents will think twice on ever engaging them again in mortal combat.

Having the knowledge of ancient Japanese warriors who may have had actually fought armed and armored opponents in wars would make street fights look like an amateur boxing game.

Also if the Jiu-Jitsu fighter does not care for his opponent’s wellbeing, then the execution of his attacks will be dialed up to maximum and he’d already been dislocating joints and break bones before he even lands his first punch or kicks on his opponent.

The Jiu-Jitsu fighter is even more dangerous at close range battle as that is what he was trained for, so in urban settings, a CQB would almost always favor the one using the Jiu Jitsu technique.

A Jiu-Jitsu practitioner can effectively deal with armed and unarmed opponents and defeat them with a combination of striking, throwing and pinning down techniques.

General Assessment of the Effectiveness of These 3 Martial Arts Techniques in Self-Defense

Which is the best martial arts technique

The primary goal of self-defense is, of course, self-preservation and the secondary goal of it is to protect the people you care about.

In this regard, you must choose the fighting style that you think will make you the most effective self-defense fighter in order to achieve these goals.

Before considering training in specific martial art whether in those that we’ve mentioned here or a different fighting system of your choosing, it best to first determine what kind of threat(s) that you’re currently facing and will face in the foreseeable future.

Basically, you can’t use Isoniazid to treat skin cancer as Isoniazid is drug developed for tuberculosis or TB and the same can be said about using the best kind of defensive measures against potential threats.

Now let’s say, for example, you live in a hot zone where the crime rate is high and you need something useful to protect yourself from bad elements that could target you as their next victim.

What do you do?

  • You buy a Colt Cobra 38 Special +P Double-Action Revolver, have 6 rounds in the chamber and carry 6 more bullets just in case?
  • How about a 50,000 – volt taser?
  • Or a telescopic iron baton folding stick?
  • Or something light yet lethal like the Smith & Wesson M&P Assisted Opening Folders or the Karambit?

The .38 caliber special handgun could give you 12 – 18 rounds of lethal firepower provided you have been trained to use it properly.

Having no experience in using guns will most likely put your at a disadvantage or even get you killed.


The greatest battle tactician Sun Tzu in his book The Art of War which is venerated by all militaries of the world said,

Those who are ready to kill must also be ready to die.”

People who have never hurt other people before in their lives tend to hesitate to use violence to defend themselves even in dangerous situations.

Their fear of being cornered and attacked also causes them to freeze and panic and forget how to use a gun, a taser, an iron baton, a knife or even the martial arts technique that they were trained in.

They think that if they’ll be kind and nice to their attacker, he would show them the same courtesy which, in fact, is the exact opposite. He’ll see his victim as a sitting duck and just asking for it!

This is why training is very important because it helps you prepare for the real thing.

Using a taser is good, although you could still be overwhelmed if you have lots of opponents.

There have been scenarios where woman were not  able to defend themself and no one around came to their defense.

Their chances of survival in fighting against a crowd of 20 or more men even with a gun, a knife, a taser or an iron baton would probably be less than 10% as they had been cornered.

A female (and in fact a male as well) would have had a better chance though if she’d ran away while using any of the weapons mentioned above rather than hanging around.

Sexual violence against women has soared in recent years

The USA still holds the number 1 record for rape cases in the world with the National Violence Against Women Survey saying that 1 in 6 women in America is victims of sexual crimes.

India and South Africa are countries with the highest number of sexual crimes happening occasionally.

However, the rapid increase of sexual crimes in countries like Germany, Sweden, and France have increased since 2015 which is very alarming, to say the least, making learning self defense for women an essential skill.

Being trained in Krav Maga would make a big difference if one was living in a hostile place like this because students in the art are taught to protect themselves at all costs – even if it means killing their opponents.

It’s just practical because the threat of getting raped or gang-raped is very real and being able to effectively defend yourself, then find an escape route to flee to safety are the core teachings of Krav Maga.

For foreign exchange students and people who are going into these countries to work or do business, then it is recommended that they train in either Wing Chun or Jiu Jitsu as they’ll have more time to prepare.

Venturing in the no-go zones, without proper self-defense training is unwise.