When Krav-Maga becomes MMA?!? If ever?

When Krav-Maga becomes MMA?!?

Does Krav-Maga=MMA?

I was asked an interesting question the other day. Can Krav-Maga become MMA and if yes when? And how?

I have to say, that I have never thought about it…. until that moment, because for me the answer is simple and obvious…. It will never happen, as the two things are so different! One is self-defense the other is a sport. One has techniques against weapons the other has none of it. One is reluctant to go to the ground the other is happy to slam you to the ground. One is advocating street, car and whatever scenarios the other is closed in the octagon.

However, when I looked again, I realized there are a lot of common things, such as: do whatever works for you best, the principles of action in the fight (shortest, most effective, strongest, to the point), do not stop until the guy is down (disabled)… and aim for reality in competition(MMA) or street(KM).

The above leads me to the understanding why many mistake or think that Krav-Maga and MMA become one or at least similar. Another, one more very important thing, is that due to the growing popularity of MMA the fighters are seen as the best fighters today. As a consequence, people look to them for reality based self-defense solutions, thinking that if they train MMA they will become better in street situation.

Fundamental differences!

For me the difference is fundamental as Krav-Maga aims for street self-defense against every size of opponent attacking suddenly with no warning or preparation. Further, where there is a weapon involved, multiple attackers, attacker that comes from all directions when we find ourselves in a confined or open area and during different weather conditions (it can be raining, snowing or hot as hell).

Situational awarness

Another important thing is the fact that as a person that trains Krav-Maga, you need to judge the situation that you find yourself in and prepare yourself. You need to be aware of the surroundings and raise the level of alertness according to the danger you feel/see (situational awareness), going from relaxed (green) to ready (orange) to fighting (red) when needed. You need to always stay alert! As you never know when and where something might happen to you, either in the line to the bus, when opening your car or when with your kids/GF/grandmother…

It’s all planned

In MMA you know in advance when, who, and where you are going to fight. You are aware of the weight category you are fighting in (the size of your opponent) a training plan and a fight plan. Further, you have the support of your guys in the corner telling you what to do, the referee stopping the fight in any case of danger to one of the guys, the doctor, the surface you fight on (the octagon), special cloths and so on. All of these things make the fight itself very “safe” and known…I am not saying that it is without injuries or your not going to bleed…but it is still in many ways very predictable…


Overall, the most important thing is the definition of the two:

Krav-Maga is a self-defense system, which means, that the students learn how to deal with different situations that can happen in the street. The system is using what we call the time-line, that allows the person to deal with the problem in the The aim is to come out of the situation in one peace and not suffer to much damage, then get the “hell moment he sees it (long distance or short distance). We teach the student to be aware of his surroundings and aware of the situation/scene that he is in!(situational awareness). Krav-maga is working with prevention, deescalation, long range solutions to short range solutions, simultaneous defense and counter attacks, moving out of the line of the attacker, disengaging when possible, scanning the area after the fight and then running away! out” of the area ASAP! The main idea is prevention! Only when all else fails during fighting you should finish it in the shortest time possible, do what is needed to save your life and get out of the area to live another day!

Krav-Maga is not about the title or the belt; it is about “dealing with life and what it can dish you.”

MMA is a sport and as such has rules, which were made to protect the fighters as much as possible from injuries and to help with judging the competition. The referee is there to keep the rules and stop the fight when needed. There is a doctor in the house in case of an injury that gives the green or red light to continue the fight…and of course, if you did well, there is a prize at the end (money, belt or climbing the ranks).

Old time MMA

Those of you, who saw the early UFC, can remember some of the fights where the opponents were “mismatched.” The small guy vs a big guy, sumo vs kickboxing, and loads of injuries! Those days were more in the line of “may the best man win” and“no holds barred” approach. Real mix martial arts where people from all martial arts and styles that were allowed to fight (some without even knowing how to fight…). Today, they still call it mixed martial arts, but the only mix is the mix in the training of the guys, they train in BJJ, Boxing, Thai boxing, Grappling and others. Yes, I know their background is varied as some have black belts in BJJ, Judo, Karate; titles in Boxing, Wrestling, Thai boxing, and some are just very talented dedicated fighters! But they are still sports-men!

Final thoughts

So, where do I really stand with this? For me Krav-Maga becomes MMA when we are in the training place, when we spar or fight in the training place and only there! If a self-defense situation becomes a fight of one on one, the Kraver did not (or could not) “do his job” as the situation continues and was not resolved fast enough for him to get the hell out of there! Only in training we continue until there is some type of stoppage like an instructor’s order, injury or submission. In reality the “stoppage” is when the Kraver disables the attacker ASAP, and leaves the scene.

A thing to remember, a fight with someone with a knife cannot end well to any of the parties….



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