I have always wanted to learn Kali, but I never had any schools in my area teaching any martial arts.

Now that I have moved (I'm mostly staying for 2 years before moving again), I found a school near me that teaches Muay Thai and Krav Maga. I thought it would be good to learn one of them for the next two years, and then later on I would learn Kali.

Now my question is pretty simple, which should I pick? which is better for a first timer? which is more similar to Kali? which is more effective for self defense? and what are the differences between them?

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    Hi and welcome to the site. Questions like "Which should I choose...?" are not particularly good as it solicits answers that are primarily opinion based. And it's also good to avoid very broad questions like "What are the differences between art A and art B?".
    – slugster
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 22:31
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    Having said that, why don't you try both at the same time (train each one once or twice a week) and then make a decision once you've got a bit of experience in each? Neither are similar to Kali, although Krav Maga may teach you some weapon skills.
    – slugster
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 22:33
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    @slugster: Your second comment would make a fine answer. Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 7:51
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    @ProWi, most martial arts schools will offer at least one class free of charge. Take both of them. Also take some classes in other martial arts in your area that you haven't considered. If a martial arts school will not give you a trial class, walk out and don't look back. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 11:34
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    If you're limited in your choices, go for the best instructor you can find, not for a particular art A or B.
    – user1972
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


This will depend in large part on what you hope to achieve. Both Krav Maga and Muay Thai have a particular focus. "Which is best" type questions do not work on Stack Exchange. "Which is best for this thing I'm trying to achieve" do work.

I won't discuss the relative merits of Krav Maga vs Muay Thai, since each has a particular focus that it is best at. However, if your ultimate aim is Kali, on the surface I would say that Krav Maga would suit you better since it at least includes anti-weapon defenses. The caveat to this is that you may learn techniques that fit in with a Krav Maga mentality and methodology, but which do not work for Kali. You will then find yourself in a position of having to re-learn what you thought you knew.

Although there may not be a Kali school near you, you may find Kali or Escrima seminars being given in your area. Ask around at local dojos. A lot of the taekwondo, karate, kung fu, etc... schools in my area also host Kali seminars. It is relatively rare to find a specifically Kali school. You may, therefore, desire to practice a supplemental art that will keep you in shape between seminars. Which one you choose will depend on your fitness level, fitness goals, and individual preferences.


It depends on how/what you want to learn.

I found Muay Thai is quick to learn and have an effective toolset in a short amount of time... if you're relatively fit. The punches, knees, and elbows are brutal and useful and not that technically difficult, in an encounter. You can pick up the basics quickly, will get good conditioning, and hit hard. BUT. Muay Thai usually will not give you weapons training, or how to do deal with multiple opponents.

I haven't studied Krav, but have seen quite a bit of footage of training. It would probably have the most direct crossover to Kali/Escrima, as it also deals with weapons and less competition focused activity. That said, you will want to make sure you get some good sparring/live drills going, and a good amount of conditioning to back it up. There's going to be a longer turn around to feeling "adept" with it.

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