Differences Between Krav Maga and Other Martial Arts

Krav Maga is the most practical martial art form in the world. It was developed to be used in real-life situations in order to avoid, prevent and act upon violent confrontations of any kind. Differing from other martial art forms which might focus on spirituality, biomechanics, or sport, Krav Maga is primarily concerned with safety in the real world – making it home alive, and having the fitness, confidence and awareness to do so. There are many different types of martial arts out there, all with their own rules and ideologies; let’s take a look closer at why Krav Maga stands out from the pack.

shakespeare self defence

While often falling under the category of martial arts, Krav Maga is a systemised and definitive form of self-defence. We take a look at some key differences between Krav Maga and other martial arts forms


A great way to investigate the roots of a martial art form is to take a look at the etymology of its name – this will give a clear indication, in really simple terms, if its original purpose or intent.

Krav Maga: Krav Maga is a Hebrew term that literally translates to “contact combat” – krav meaning ‘contact’ and maga ‘combat’.

Taekwondo: The term Tae Kwan Do is Korean, and roughly translates to ‘to stomp or trample’ (Tae), ‘with fists’ (Kwon), ‘way or discipline’ (Do)

Kung Fu or Gung Fu: Kung Fu (or Gung Fu) is an umbrella term for hundreds of different Chinese fighting styles. Therefore the term is vague, roughly meaning any skill that is acquired through learning martial arts. Wǔshù literally means “martial art”.

Jujutsu: Jujutsu is a Japanese term; Ju meaning soft, flexible, supple or yielding, and Jutsu meaning art or technique. Together they refer to using an opponent’s force to your own advantage.  

Judo: Another Japanese term, Judo means “gentle way”

Karate: The term karate means “Empty hand”, and was developed in Okinawa under the influence of White Crane Chinese Martial arts in the early 20th Century.

As you can see, the etymology of each term can offer great insight into each form’s philosophy and ideology. Where many traditional forms of Asian martial arts that have their way to modern Australia focus on discipline, the use of hands and feet, and also gentle, strategic use of the opponent’s body weight in your favour, Krav Maga is a far more contemporary, practical martial art. The term “contact combat” insinuates a ‘fight’ – something tangible – rather than a ‘kumite’, ‘kata’, a discipline or a sport.



Krav Maga was born in dark times. Imi Lichtenfeldthe Father of Krav Maga, developed the practice over many years. Krav Maga has roots in boxing, wrestling and gymnastic, but flourished into what it is today when Lichtenfeld was put in charge of training the elite strike force (the Palmach) and the marine commando unit (the Palyam) in Palestine after he fled there in the 1940s to escape the grip of the Nazis.

When the State of Israel was born and these two forces merged to become the IDF (the Israeli Defence Force), Lichtenfeld was appointed the Chief Instructor for Physical Fitness and tasked with creating a simple, efficient and effective system of physical combat training for IDF recruits – the result was Krav Maga.

Basic Principles 

As you can see, Krav Maga has roots in close combat, hands-on fighting to be used in real situation where psychical violence is a threat. Many other martial art forms focus on disciples, compliancy drills and routines; they are built upon primitive forms of fighting and have since become method-based sports and a collection of self defence techniques.

Krav Maga is situational. It focuses on opportunity, efficiency, targets, neutralising attackers, and simultaneous defence and attack with a focus on real-life situations where you might actually be in danger. The point of Krav Maga is not to invoke fear, quite the opposite actually. The philosophy is one of preparation, developing instincts and arming oneself with anything and everything you could use to diffuse a situation, or protect and counter-attack.

benefits of krav maga

Physical over Mental 

Some forms of martial arts use mental or internal forces as a focal point for ‘sourcing power’. Taekwando, for example, focuses on breathing control, concentration, equilibrium (centre-point) and internal reactive forces to generate power. While these are extremely relevant concepts when thinking of just about any physical actives or exercises, they aren’t so applicable to situations where danger is imminent and there’s a very good change you will be caught off guard.

Krav Maga is more ingrained in the physical world, and its basic principles reflect that:

• Simultaneous defence and attack
• Instinct-based movement
• Targeting soft tissue and pressure points such as the neck, groin, throat and solar plexus
• Using weapons of opportunity that are available in your environment (rocks, sticks etc)
• Dealing with multiple attackers
• Neutralising armed and unarmed attackers
• Being aware of surroundings in order to search for escape routes, more attackers, weapons or assistance

difference between krav maga

Focus on Fitness

Perhaps due to its roots in military training and exercise, there is a great focus on fitness in Krav Maga that other martial arts forms lack. Practices like Ju Jitsu/Ju Jutsu focus more on centre of gravity and building strength and technique in their key areas of focus – grappling, throwing and fatal attacks against armed opponents. Kung Fu and Taekwando, on the other hand, focus on speed and agility – jumping and dodging.

Learning Krav Maga hones in on tactical fitness, with regimes that are aimed at helping your body build functional power. This means focusing on body alignment – ensuring that your bones and muscles are aligned and supported the way they should be for balance and agility; body recovery for faster recovery time; strength and cardio; and finally, mental fitness.

Our TACTFIT programs are inclusive and have different difficulty levels meaning they are suitable for people of any age and any level of strength or fitness.

Krav Maga is all about physical empowerment. It is a real-life skill that can be applied by everyone no matter your age, sex or physical ability. These are skills that everybody should know, if not to be stronger and healthier, then at least for a little peace of mind. If you have questions, concerns or would like to sign up for a Krav Maga class today, contact Urban Kombat; we have classes designed to suit everyone from total beginners to experienced fighters.