I'm familiar with the basics of Krav Maga (history, philosophy and approach), but not a practitioner. There's a lot to like in this martial art from my perspective, but I generally don't see any mention of a competitive/sports aspect of the art - in fact, I generally hear practitioners specifically promote how Krav Maga is not sports-oriented. All of this got me to wondering, is there a sports-oriented version/aspect of Krav Maga? And if so, how does it differ from the more self-defense oriented Krav Maga practice?

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    I didn't go into the detail but it's look like there is tournament with judge for military jspace.com/news/articles/…. Hope they will do something like this for civilian also.
    – ucsky
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 17:20

7 Answers 7


First, Krav Maga doesn't refer to itself as a martial arts. It's more appropriately called "Self defense tactics system." This might seem like marketing fluff, but the idea is that there is no art to it, and it want's to separate itself from traditional martial arts.

Second, there is no sports (also known as competitive) aspect to Krav Maga. Krav Maga itself takes it's learnings from many martial arts: Boxing, Tae Kwon Do, BJJ, Muay Thai etc, which do have competition and rules, but eschews them for a simplified fighting style.

If you want Krav Maga with a competitive nature to it, then I recommend MMA, which has a lot of overlap with krav maga, minus the weapon defense, small joint manipulation, and other "hurt at all cost" moves (eyepokes, ball-kicks, etc), which are generally illegal in competitive martial arts.

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    Why make the separation between a "Self Defense tactice system" and a "martial art"? What do you think Karate/jujustu/kung-fu were made for? Its not at all different then what Krav was created for; fighting.
    – Btuman
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 18:48
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    It's not my distinction. Its the distinction that Krav Maga's various associations make. Krav Maga has no Art to it. It's all about street mentality w.r.t. self-defense. KM is far from perfect, but I certainly think the distinction is a valid one.
    – Alan
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 19:51
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    Personally I would say it like any art is simply a sub category. A focus on one thing or another does not really make it a different animal.
    – Btuman
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 20:23

Krav Maga is a relatively new martial art which was developed by Israeli military for military applications, as such it does not have a competitive/sports aspect as with Taekwondo or Seido.

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    It's not really due to time. BJJ started in 1914, while KM was first started in 1930's. It's due to philosophy more than anything. Also maybe smart marketing, since people won't see KM fighters get their butts kicked in the ring, they won't lose credibility.
    – Alan
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 15:29
  • Getting the Ass kicked inside the ring doesn´t mean that the style is bad. If specific techniques would be allowed inside the ring, who would win? It is still and will be always the one who wants it more. The skill can be trained however, but a kick is a kick and a punch will be always a punch. Ever noticed how shiny techniques crippeled down to simple straight punches and beautiful hooks changed to windmills in real fiughts? Btw. there was one fight as I recal with Tomy Bloom inside an octagon he won without Krav techniques.
    – mitro
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 9:03

Krav Maga has no competitive aspect, as the rules of competitive fighting would be incompatible with many techniques, but to answer your question, the Krav Maga taught to civilians around the world is the sports-oriented version of Krav Maga.

There's a lot of marketing rhetoric about how deadly and effective Krav Maga is, and practitioners and instructors will tell you that Krav Maga is not a martial art but a self-defense system, blah, blah, blah, but you should keep in mind that the Krav Maga taught to Israeli Special Forces is not the same thing that instructors around the world teach to civilians.

People are right when they say Krav Maga is deadly and intended to quickly incapacitate the opponent by causing serious injury or death, but most of the time an instructor teaching Krav Maga to civilians won't teach many details that set up the conditions for causing serious injury or death to an opponent. This is simply because civilians learning Krav Maga for the sake of self-defense won't need to kill an attacker with their bare hands in order to defend themselves, and there's a good chance they will go to jail if they do that. That kind of legal trouble associated with the name will bring the kind of bad reputation that no contract disclaimer or public relations effort can prevent.


As far as I know there has been one tournament held last year by the Israeli Self Defense Force. The scarcity for competition in this field are likely due to it's brutality. Krav Maga leaves the opponent damaged and crippled through the use of eye gouging, groin, and throat shots. It was created for the purpose of self preservation and many of the techniques would be unsafe and unethical to preform for sport.


No, it doesn't have a sporitng element, but if you can have shooting sports (IPSC, IDPA, etc), then you can have Krav Maga sports too. Set up a course and let each competitor run it. The guy with the shortest time/ highest kill/death ratio wins. Now give me lots of money for the idea.


I took Krav Maga for about a year with two different organizations. It can teach you to defend rather quickly and get you to safety in a B- line. But to say it teaches to kill is over kill. Any martial art can teach you to kill, but going to jail is not worth it. Once the adversary is on the ground leave the scene—hitting more than that will get you locked up for too much force. I like the bursting concept of it, to many choke escapes. One or two will do but to go thru your mind selecting out of 12 is useless under stress. The knife blocks are even worse, very dangerous. Use objects around you to defend against a knife and any other weapon.

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    I find this confusing: "I like the bursting concept of it, to many choke escapes. One or two will do but to go thru your mind selecting out of 12 is useless under stress." Could you please clarify?
    – mattm
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 16:24

user1592 is right. Imagine someone who knew KM just walked into an MMA cage and started fighting. KM practitioners are trained to kill right? They probably would most commonly seriously injure someone every time they entered the ring. If you ask someone who is an expert on KM, they'll say they know a gazillion ways to kill someone. That's not okay to put in a competition, even MMA. I've even talked to someone who has just a few years to get to intermediate KM. Guess what? He knows a couple hundred ways to kill that are ONLY to be used IN SELF DEFENSE.

I'll cite some sources of the most lethal martial arts and you can read about the top few. You'll notice KM is usually 1st place, at the end, on the list. These lists tend to count down.




I know your probably thinking "duh" after reading some of those links. Maybe everything said on some of those isn't the most reliable, but reliable or no they all say KM is the most deadly. The reason is because its simply for serious self defense and involves some serious techniques that probably will kill the person they are performed on. The real purpose of KM is probably more likely to be used if someone has a knife or a gun and threatens you, not for MA competition.

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