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Krav Maga vs Jiu Jitsu (Infographic Inside)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) emphasizes technique and leverage. It includes frequent live sparring to provide a more realistic combat experience, offering a more practical skill set compared to some Krav Maga training that may lack this element. Krav Maga’s focus on striking and as a self defense system may not have legitimate instruction and may lack deeper a undertsanding of the techniques and martial arts it pulls from such as judo, wrestling, boxing, muay thai, and bjj.

If Krav Maga is so effective then why haven’t we seen the effective techniques of Krav Maga in MMA?

Krav Maga and Jiu Jitsu are two very different fighting systems systems with distinct characteristics, techniques, and goals.

Krav Maga is a bit like crossfit – broad but no depth. It can expose you to effective training but may not be best at teaching it.

With this important information above, for both types of self-defense, Krav Maga vs. (Brazilian) Jiu-Jitsu is perfect for anyone interested in learning more about martial arts or protecting themselves effectively.

Krav Maga vs. Jiu Jitsu

To learn more, let’s breakdown Krav Maga vs. Jiu Jitsu:

Goals of Krav Maga:

  • To damage your opponent (sometimes lethally) and escape

Goals of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:

  • To control and submit your opponent

Related: Which Martial Art Should I Learn First?

Let’s be clear: The Krav Maga is a self-defense program designed to be highly effective in life or death situations. It was initially taught to Israeli soldiers so that they could defend themselves even when they were unarmed.

This program is ideal for taking someone with no previous experience and teaching them basic, practical skills in fighting.

While krav maga is a broad fighting system it may lack the depth that other martial arts such as bjj, judo, wrestling, and sambo have.

The best part about this style is that it is supposed to be a full self defense system. You will learn how to strike, clinch, the basics of ground fighting, some throws, weapon disarms, and most importantly, develop a state of mind involving awareness and aggression when under attack.

Fighters learn different fighting styles such as that found in:

  • boxing
  • muay thai
  • wrestling
  • judo
  • and even bjj

In this style of fighting, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one major part of what makes up krav maga.

BJJ is the ultimate ground fighting martial art. It also takes from several different martial arts such as judo, wrestling, and sambo.

However, the thing that separates Brazilian jiu jitsu from other martial arts is that bjj training frequently involves live sparring –

Live sparring is the only type of training that proves the effectiveness of a martial art against a fully resisting opponent or attacker.

Krav Maga TechniquesBrazilian Jiu Jitsu Techniques
Groin StrikesTakedowns
Eye PokesDomination Positions (Mount/Side Control)
Fist/Elbow StrikesSubmissions (arm bar/triangle/kimura)
Knees/Leg Strikes
Focused attacks to the eyes/face/neck/groin

What is Krav Maga?

What is Krav Maga?

Krav Maga’s self-defense system is touted as one of the best ways to protect yourself from assailants in real life combat situations.

However, very few testimonies actually prove the effective strategies and defensive maneuvers of krava maga in real life situations such as surprise attacks, multiple attackers, carjackings, and low-light conditions attacks.

One of the best ways to gauge the effective of a martial art is by how effective it is against a resisting opponent. We usually see this testing done during the live sparring portion of training. Since all martial arts are should include sparring to put it simply,

“martial arts without sparring like coding without debugging”

Hence, those who started with krav maga training might have a higher confidence level in their fighting skills because they already repeated the techniques so often with their combat partners who were feigning resistance and reacting to how they could think of a strategy to which the attacker would respond to their plans.

Most martial artists can always tell about their experience with Krav Maga. Examples of this are many uncomplicated maneuvers that look like they would be successful 50 times out of 50 when practicing against resisting partners but then fail during actual competitive drills or sparring just as frequently due to insufficient learning of style and techniques.

Furthermore, Krav Maga students may not be as talented in grappling and striking as those who specialize in other sports. Despite this claim, Krav Maga still can offer some basic practical self defense skills.

What Is BJJ?

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art that emphasizes grappling and ground fighting. It came from Japanese jujutsu, used by Samurai warriors in feudal Japan.

It was popularized in the West by the Gracie family specifically by Helio Gracie and his siblings, who founded the first academy in Rio de Janeiro in 1925. Brazilian jiu-jitsu has become increasingly popular in recent years and influential in mixed martial arts competitions.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu aims to force an opponent to submit through joint locks and strangles. Withing the martial art students are ranked up based on belt level, and on average, it will likely take at least 10 years to achieve a black belt.

Below are the Pros and Cons of BJJ.


  • Supersede your heavier, taller, more vigorous opponents who have less experience.
  • Practically unsurpassed in unarmed 1v1 confrontations.
  • When two people who are good at chess play against each other, it’s like they’re fighting in real life, and because there is less entropy (randomness) at high levels, and players have fewer “available moves” to make when they tangled with each other on the ground.
  • Teaches you to be methodical and technical in life: A step-by-step procedure often gets the job done more easily and quickly than a hasty approach.
  • The idea that “BJJ is good for the street” isn’t entirely accurate, but it can be beneficial if you’re in a bad situation on the ground.


  • Sportive versions do not address protecting vital spots like the groin.
  • Neither the sportive nor street versions would be effective if a gang or an armed person threatened you. Even a lone person could have friends lurking nearby who might pose a threat.
  • The gain in efficiency is lost in time. It takes significantly more time to apply the techniques than other martial arts, so it would not be beneficial if your goal is to run away quickly.
  • The argument that BJJ is beneficial for self-defense on the street because it teaches balance and how to not go to the ground is weaker than similar claims made by Judo, wrestling, and authentic Muay Thai.

Is Krav Maga Effective?

As with any other martial art, the effectiveness depends on the practitioner, training style, and if it involves live sparring.

The Israeli Military, law enforcement, and other groups use these combat systems, which suggests that it is both practical and quick to learn. However, it may not be frequently proven against resisting opponents.

Ultimately, it depends on the individual practitioner in any given situation.

The success of this venture depends on three aspects:

  • A practitioner’s success is based on how much effort they put into learning, their natural ability, and, frequently, ultimately, luck.
  • Even if you have the best martial art in the world, you won’t accomplish much learning unless you have a great teacher and gym.
  • The focus should be on the art or the martial arts program. Similar to the teacher, variations in quality and direction can significantly affect results.

Now Krav Maga is a martial art form that emphasizes physical and sometimes lethal movements. Asking if it’s effective may not be the best question since many of these techniques are not or are unable to be practiced in a real, full effort scenario.

If you want to be an effective self-defense fighter, here are some tips:

  • Find a good school by looking for reviews and talking to the teachers. Also, use common sense when making your decision.
  • Before enrolling in a program, consider the following: what is its focus, does it cover scenarios you are interested in, what type of training does it offer (does it include live sparring against a resisting opponent*), and how comfortable are you that this is the right fit for you?
  • Invest in yourself – as Tom Lehrer said, “life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it.” If you just casually go once a week with any martial art you will not see very much benefit

Remember friends! Hard work pays off.

Krav Maga vs. MMA – Why Don’t We See Krav Maga in MMA?

Krav Maga and MMA are both combat sports. The table shows its distinct features and why we don’t see it in MMA.

Krav MagaMMA
is a self-defense system developed in Israel.It is a full-contact sport that combines elements of multiple martial arts styles.
It focuses on teaching practical self-defense techniques suitable for real-world situations.It is primarily a sport with specific rules and regulations.
It is not for competitions and matches.Its training includes a variety of striking and  grappling techniques
It is an effective attacking system.Its fighters regularly compete in bouts.
 It is an exciting combat sport.

In a self-defense situation, you’re more likely to come out on top–and without a lawsuit–if you know MMA grappling procedure. A big part of all the styles, including MMA, is taking and maintaining control of the position.

MMA for sport is a regulated bout between two people. It has rules and guidelines. So it may be that certain Krav Maga techniques are simply not allowed in MMA.

Any martial art that doesn’t acknowledge the valuable data MMA has provided isn’t really looking for the most effective martial art in a real life self defense scenario.

The key to success in MMA is proper positioning; this will give you the advantage over your opponent and allow you to do whatever you want with less risk.

If you learn to fight for real as in MMA, then self-defense will come more naturally.

Many people have wondered why we don’t see Krav Maga more often in mixed martial arts (MMA).

There are a few reasons for this.

  • is not a sport; it is a a group of combat systems made for self defense. The goal of Krav Maga is to disable an assailant, not to score points or win a match.
  • It does not emphasize striking; it focuses on grappling and submissions. In MMA, however, strikes are a significant part of the game.
  • It raining can be pretty dangerous; it is not unusual for students to sustain injuries during sparring sessions.

For these reasons, Krav Maga is not qualified for MMA competitions.

Krav Maga vs. BJJ – Conclusion

Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) are two great martial arts for self-defense, but Krav Maga is more practical. Krav Maga focuses mainly on strikes and takedowns, while BJJ zeros in on grappling and submissions.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages and can teach practitioners how to deal with a physical, stressful situation.

While Krav maga is touted as being ideal for a real life self defense situation, I would strongly recommend including specific grappling training like that found in wrestling, bjj, or judo.

Krav Maga is a more direct and aggressive martial art focused on quickly incapacitating an assailant. BJJ, by contrast, is mainly about gaining control over your opponent from a dominant position, and its techniques are challenging to master without time on the mat and considerable skill level.

If I were in a street fight I would take any blue belt with 2 years of bjj experience by my side over someone who practiced Krav Maga for 6 years.

These answer to which martial art you should train and which is more effective will always come down to live training.

However, BJJ considers it very effective against larger and stronger opponents. In the end, the martial art you’re most familiar with and have trained in will work best for self-defense.

Krav Maga is can work for you if you are trying to learn more about the basics of self defense and are trying to get exposure to many different martial arts.

The recommendation we can provide is that MMA training or any grappling training such as that found in wrestling, bjj, or judo will always trump any Krav Maga training for self defense.

But no matter which style you choose, train against live opponents regularly so you can learn how to defend yourself effectively in any situation.