MMAis short for mixed martial arts and it is a competitive sport combining thai boxing, wrestling and ground fighting techniques most commonly derived from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It is undoubtedly the toughest and most realistic no-nonsense combat sport. Ultimately it is designed for a one-on-one free hand fight scenario with a fixed time frame, a referee and a strict set of rules to avoid causing permanent damage to the practitioners, who by the way, also usually wear a set of minimum level protective equipment, such as 4oz mma gloves, mouth guard and groin protection.
On the other hand, Krav Maga is a self defense system born out of necessity in war times and it has been adapted by several armies and law enforcement agencies across the world because of it’s effectiveness. The civilian section teaches personal safety tactics, prevention, conflict deescalation, stress management, defenses against common attacks and fighting skills as well as improving your physical condition and helping you to deal with the aftermath of the confrontation. Our experience with front line soldiers, police and law enforcement officers and the access to a vast database of criminal reports enabled us to create a system that deals with all kinds of armed and unarmed attacks that are common in real life. In Krav Maga there are no time limits, no referees to stop the fight and no rules whatsoever. We teach people to survive and escape, ideally unharmed, at all cost. We also cover the basics of VIP protection in case you need to defend your loved ones.
The ultimate goal of Krav Maga fighting is to neutralize your attacker or attackers because criminals rarely operate alone or fight fair and make them unable to carry on so that they no longer cause an immediate threat. As a result, there are no competitions in Krav Maga. Otherwise the loser of the match would likely be hospitalized or even suffer permanent damages. Let’s take a look at the UFC rule book:
- Groin attacks
- Small joint manipulation
- Hair pulling
- Putting a finger into any orifice or into any cut or laceration on an opponent (see Fish-hooking)
- Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea
- Clawing, pinching or twisting the flesh
- Intentionally attempting to break an opponent’s bone
- Spiking an opponent to the canvas on the head or neck (see Piledriver)
- Throwing an opponent out of the ring or fenced area
- Holding the shorts or gloves of an opponent
- Spitting at an opponent
- Engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to an opponent
- Holding the ropes or the fence
- Using abusive language in the ring or fenced area
- Attacking an opponent on or during the break
- Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee
- Attacking an opponent after the bell (horn) has sounded the end of a round
- Flagrantly disregarding the instructions of the referee
- Timidity, including, without limitation, avoiding contact with an opponent, intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury
- Interference by the corner
- Using any foreign substance that could give an unfair advantage
- Striking to the spine or the back of the head (see Rabbit punch)
- Striking downward using the point of the elbow (see 12-6 elbow)
When I first saw this list I was thinking to myself that’s pretty much Krav Maga right there! While that thought is not entirely true, but we actively teach many of these „forbidden moves“ in the form of techniques as a response to attacks by criminals. With that being said we also put a tremendous amount of focus on safety in training and practitioners progress gradually according to their abilities. Additionally a legally acceptable and adequate response is thought against each threat.
Krav Maga and MMA are not competitors in the martial arts world or in the defence industry. The army doesn’t teach MMA and Krav Maga schools don’t teach martial arts. There are no enmity between the two camps, we both learn from each other and admire each others disciplines. Just recently a former MMA champion and UFC Hall of Fame inductee, Bas Rutten, set up a school in Las Vegas to teach Krav Maga as he recognized it being the most effective self defence system.
As you see, Krav Maga and MMA is quite different in many ways and before you make your choice about the discipline you would like to enrol in, instead of asking which is better identify the goal you would like to achieve by your training and see which martial art or self defense system fits you better. Choose a reputable school or organization with a proven track record and start training presistently.