What are the general tactics of Krav Maga as opposed to Systema?

For instance, the tactics of Silat are to hurt the other person so badly they can't hurt back. Another example would be that the tactics of boxing would be to knock out the other person first using only punches. So, as far as I know, the goal of Systema and Krav Maga are both to do anything you can to defeat your attacker because they are serious about self defense. Does that mean that Krav Maga and Systema are strategical identical? Does Krav use strategies that Systema doesn't? Does Systema use any strategies that Krav doesn't? Is there a difference or do they generally work the same way?

  • 2
    Hm, I had some years doing Krav now and my goal never was to defeat the attacker but to get away with as less injuries as possible without being further persued...
    – Fildor
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 20:27
  • so basically systema is more like a traditional martial art? if i had already trained in arts such as hapkido, learning krav maga and supplementing it with my existing knowledge of joint locks, pressure points, ect. would probably be decent way to go eh? thank god for birthright lol
    – user3202
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 15:25
  • Systema is more like traditional martial art yes, with much focus on breathing and relaxation techniques to aid recovery and effectiveness
    – Ross Drew
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 10:09

5 Answers 5


At first glance Krav Maga and Systema seem to be very similar in that they are both very unconventional, no-rules, practical self-defence, martial arts (although Krav isn't technically a martial art) which are no holds barred and generally formless.


Krav Maga is basically a very raw, dangerous situation survival system (including avoidance and escape) which builds upon your natural instincts and taught in a very short space of time. Therefore it is highly stress tested. It relies on the fact that fear will set in in order to use your natural responses and turn them into functional movements to your advantage. It relies heavily on shock and awe in that defence and attack should be simultaneous where possible to capitalise on the opponent's shock value.

Systema is - in many ways - the exact opposite, it is a system which teaches over a much longer period of time how to control your fear/anger/pity and teaches relaxation (through breathing/stretching) in stressful situations so that attacks on your person are less effective, better recovered from and the pressure points, levers and momentum of attackers can be manipulated to your advantage using the clarity of mind gained from your training.

In Summary

So in effect Krav Maga is taught fast and turns your weaknesses into strengths so your defence/attack becomes like a reflex just when you need it, while Systema is a methodology that needs to be learned and seeks to remove those weaknesses so that your defense/attacks can be more effective.


Another martial art, similar and somewhere between these is the Keysi Fighting Method (KFM) - developed for street fighting - but that has some actual forms that have to be learned such as the very distinctive 'Pensador' that the Christian Bale Batman uses ;)

KFM is a lot more like Krav Maga but it makes heavy use of the 'Pensador' guard (much like the 'Rhino' Krav pose) and concentrates a much larger chunk of its time to dealing with multiple opponents and ground based fighting, as it was developed for street fighting and this is where they tend to end up. It doesn't deal with survival (avoidance and get away) as much as Krav however. There are also no weapons.

  • 1
    I knew about KFM and how Batman uses it in the Dark Knight trilogy. But I would also wonder what the difference is then between the above and KFM.
    – user2932
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 21:54
  • I've updated the post with this information
    – Ross Drew
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 14:25
  • 1
    Good description there. Philosophically speaking, Systema is like Jedi training while Krav Maga is like Sith training.
    – Overmind
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 8:29

My brother trains in Systema. I train in Krav Maga. Systema and Krav Maga both have the end game of decimating your opponent by any means necessary. For self preservation, you won't go wrong with either. Systema takes longer to learn, but has a greater arsenal from which to draw in a combat situation. Krav Mava is learned very quickly with basic moves that work for a vast variety of scenarios. My opinion is to do whatever fits your budget and time frame.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site. You should take the tour to see how we work. This answer would be much improved with some references/evidence to justify your claims. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 13:57

Excellent answer was given above. I also would like to add that Systema is more circular and more 'compassionate'. With that I mean its more about controlling the opponent/making him think twice to attack you, and not permanently damaging him by vicious attacks. But using deep, heavy punches that will knock the wind out of someone. Also lots of joint locks, tripping etc. Systema training is also a more a sort of discovery of (personal) movements and limitations/possibilities. Krav Maga does not have that as much.


I trained in KFM (Andy Norman's Defense Lab - DNA) for nearly a year and found it to be half Hollywood fluff and half useful defense training. The good is that the technique is designed for close quarter combat and multiple opponents.

Perhaps it was just me, or the location where I trained, but I found the training style quite chaotic. When I trained in other martial arts (Judo and Mixed) I was taught basics and then how to turn those basics into advanced technique.

In DNA everyone trains together by year. As a result, you are not taught to progress from crawling to walking to running. Instead, the beginners (year1-tier-1 for argument sake) are training with the year-1-tier-2 people and new beginners can join as far as two months into the program. This didn't work well for me. I like to be taught fundamentals before trying anything more evolved.

So the order is mixed where the first session you may be learning an advanced take-down because it is a year-1-tier-2 move without having previously learned and practiced the basic holds necessary to perform the advanced move properly. Many with whom I trained did fine with it. Even so, a lot of them (while looking good) never got the technique right.

I have no experience with Krav Maga, but from what I read, I think I'm going to give it a try.

  • 2
    This answer would be a good one if it answered the question asked. The question was "What are the general tactics of Krav Maga as opposed to Systema"? You only discussed training regime, not tactics. Commented May 13, 2015 at 12:51

Krav maga and Kali which uses different techniques on the platform on the titles of a skill, is confusing you people.

Both are the same, it's in the individual and the opponent that is coming at you, it's the level whereby you in your level of skill will understand what is your opponents frame of mind and body language. You will also understand his move towards the stand of his foot work already in the form, his hands combination and their positioning, the eyes are focused at which point of your body or the place in which only the Advanced level Martial artist will be able to justify.

Aggression, anger, very cool and humble, etc, positioning of his incoming attack at the very first before strike, may it be seconds, will give you the edge to handle him in the skill, to defend or body lock him, or play the mid range skill to move on strikes, defense, blocks, attacks.

It's the situation and the opponents decision that a martial artist will know which form of skill is to be used for which individual. It's in the Art, and the Person himself, in a professional level. The highest of level is, Vital attacks, if the aggressor is moving in for the kill.

I don't know, maybe. Was told by a long lost friend of mine.

  • 1
    Any answer that ends with "I don't know, maybe" and "was told by a long lost friend" is hardly substantiated enough to be reliable. Also, I have attempted to edit your answer to make it more readable. Please revert if I have changed the meaning substantially.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 21:15

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.