Krav Maga and mixed martial arts are two fighting styles that are both popular for very different reasons. Krav Maga is an effective and efficient self-defense system for personal protection. With promotions like the UFC and ONE Championship dominating bar room screens across the globe, it only stands to reason that a given person might wonder if the Israeli discipline might work well when mixed in with (and matched against) martial arts like Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai.

But does Krav Maga work with MMA training? Even if you think it’s a cut-and-dried question, there are a lot of nuances involved with blending the two that you may not have considered. Before you try to bring your Krav Maga skills with you into the Octagon, read our guide to find out if the two go together like peanut butter and jelly, or Conor McGregor and anger management classes.

Splitting the Difference

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, it’ll help to define just what exactly both Krav Maga and MMA are—and aren’t. Applying the practice to MMA training might be more complicated than you might think.

MMA can be a pretty broad term, but it essentially applies to a combat sport where the participants use strikes and grappling from various martial arts disciplines to win a match against their opponent. At first, it might seem like using Krav Maga in MMA would be a no-brainer. A legendary UFC fighter like Anderson Silva, for example, might cycle through a combo of Wing Chun, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Capoeira techniques in the span of a couple of minutes, then finish off his prey with a submission hold. A training session for MMA would be the perfect time to show off your kick-ass Krav Maga moves, right?

But let’s back up a minute: Krav Maga is a self-defense system, not a martial art. While the two can certainly intersect, the main difference between them is that Krav Maga isn’t designed with competitive limitations in mind. If you’re coming up against a dangerous situation, you’ll use anything at your disposal to secure the safety of you and your loved ones, which is why Krav Maga allows for debilitating strikes like groin shots and eye gouging. Try implementing those techniques at an MMA training gym and you’ll create a lot of trouble for yourself..

So while you certainly can use something like Tae Kwon Do in situations like a mugging, Krav Maga is specifically made to handle such a scenario, and that makes the parameters with what you can use it for in a competitive setting different. But does that mean it’s totally incompatible with MMA training? That’s where things get interesting.

Responsibly Using Krav Maga in MMA

MMA Match

Krav Maga and mixed martial arts may not play very well together when it comes to the subject of securing championship belts, but that doesn’t mean the self-defense practice doesn’t have its uses when it comes to MMA training.

For example, at Krav Maga Worldwide, our fighting classes include drills and lessons on both traditional Western boxing and kickboxing—two disciplines that are always featured in MMA fights. Forceful and properly-placed strikes are a crucial part of pretty much every martial art on the planet, and you’ll learn how to become effective with them when you take Krav Maga lessons as well.

Krav Maga also intersects with MMA training in the form of learning how to use grappling and takedowns in a self-defense situation. No matter who you are or what kind of martial arts you practice, a correctly executed choke will put you to sleep, and if it can be used to take someone down it has a place in Krav Maga. Efficient holds are key components of MMA training and they have a big place in Krav Maga as well.

So while using Krav Maga in the ring probably isn’t the best idea, there’s a lot you can carry over from this effective self-defense practice into your adventures with mixed martial arts. If you do end up using Krav Maga in MMA, it’ll likely be in the form of striking and groundwork fundamentals that you learned over the course of your training—and those are sure to come in handy no matter who you’re fighting.

Putting it All Together

Whether you’re looking at MMA training as a supplement to your Krav Maga regimen, or you want to bring the skills you’ve learned from this self-defense discipline into the Octagon with you, Krav Maga Worldwide can help. We take an active approach to key Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques into our craft, and we schedule fight classes across the world that will help you meld these two powerhouse disciplines together with expert skill. Start bridging our Krav Maga practice and your MMA training with expertise that’ll get you ready for your next challenge.

Do you have a story about Krav Maga meeting MMA that you’d like to share? Drop us a comment below! If you have any questions about our classes, send us an email or give us a call and we’ll be happy to help out in any way we can.

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