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Krav Maga vs. Muay Thai: Which is Best for you?


Krav Maga vs. Muay Thai. Which fighting style suits you? What are they anyway? Where do I start to learn these self defense skills? Read this and be enlightened.

If you look closely at the two fighting styles, you will find both stark similarities and differences at the same time. Another name for Muay Thai is Thai boxing, which is a very renowned kind of martial arts. One major aspect of this kind of fighting technique is that it majorly involves hitting one’s opponent at a distance or close contact.

Krav Maga is very rigorous and normally associated with brutality and efficiency. It involves fighting techniques borrowed heavily from the unique techniques of different martial arts. However, the two techniques have been popularized over time by fighters on both sides of the divide.

Competitive fighting/Krav Maga vs. Muay Thai

What Makes the Two Fighting Techniques Different?

A Sneak Peek at Krav Maga

This kind of fighting technique is best suited for self-defense purposes. It has been modified over time to suit the modern times as well. This type of fight traces its origin in Slovakia, the city of Bratislava, Eastern Europe. This fighting technique combines three different sports, which include wrestling, boxing, and street fighting into one deadly art. 

Krav Maga is the brainchild of one Imi Lichtenfeld, an experienced fighter who combined the three sports to come up with this technique to protect the Jewish people from anti-Jewish attacks on the streets of Bratislava. The more he continued to get a following in this category of self-defense, the more his idea took shape. 

After the Second World War, he continued with his mission of training recruits into this new system of combat. One major milestone was when he was contracted to teach the Israeli military, which has gained popularity in various security agencies and military in various parts of the world. Apart from helping the men and women in uniform to protect themselves, it can also be used by civilians to guard against threats, which might call them into action.

Muay Thai

This kind of fighting technique originated from the streets of various fighting arenas in Thailand. And just like the Krav Maga, it is used for self-defense purposes. As far back as the 1500s, the fighting techniques were already being used by the Thai military for purposes of training their personnel. 

However, it was not until about the 1900s that tournaments were organized for fighters to showcase their skills. These tournaments grew rapidly after being incorporated with boxing rules from the British. This is the period in which the modern Muay Thai fighting technique started to emerge from the shadows of the traditional one. 

Furthermore, as the sport grew in stature, so did its following and fighters. It moved rapidly from being a Thai affair into a global spectrum for everyone to witness. This unique Thai fighting style found a home in various federations, which organized kickboxing tournaments, which later culminated into live matches where combatants fought inside cages. Such matches have also gained popularity over time since they are normally screened live on television. Keeping viewers glued to their screens for the better part of these matches.

Comparisons Between the two Fighting Skills

When it comes to its set of moves, Muay Thai is at times commonly referred to as the Eight Limbed Art, due to its combination of deadly strikes on opponents using the hands, knees, elbows, and shin. Not forgetting the concept of clinching the neck. This acts as a guide setting the opponent’s head in a perfect position for an impending strike.

When in motion and deep involvement in the moves, then the entire bodies of Muay Thai combatants move with absolute power and sync to produce one of the deadliest strikes of all. This continuous strikes eventually incapacitates an opponent leaving him writhing in pain or unconscious in extreme cases. 

On the other hand, the Krav Maga is mainly associated or driven essentially by instincts, which more often than not brutal and fast leaving opponents dazed. Both arts of combat have one thing in common. Attacking the most vulnerable areas of the opponent’s body using sheer force and brutality. Blocking your opponent’s attack is usually encouraged to keep you from harm’s way of their blows and ferocity. Krav Maga combatants are synonymously known to use brute force involving a series of kicks, blows, knees, shin attacks, which includes locking and throwing opponents to the ground.

In Terms of Sporting and Self Defense Motives

Both fighting techniques have similar attributes. They both can be used for self-defense and as a sporting activity, the rules governing Muay Thai seek to promote the element of fairness, which in turn gives maximum protection to the fighters from any life-threatening injuries, arising from the fights. Notably, the rules outlaws kicks or blows to parts of the body such as groins, and knees.

This is so much different from Krav Maga whose primary rule is survival. Any other rule is embodied along this line. It is a sport for the survival of the fittest. They are the ones who get to excel and receive recognition and respect that comes with being the best. Moreover, blows targeting your opponent’s vulnerable areas are very much encouraged as the main aim here is to incapacitate them. There is no fairness in this category of sport. It is free for all fights with no referees or points earned. It is like fighting to the death. All you have to look out for is your survival. The rest is thrown out of the window. 


In the case of Muay Thai, its primary goal is usually an organized mode of competition where its fighters usually train to fight one another. On the other side of the coin, Krav Maga is more of a street fight, which more often than not involves a fighter having to defend himself from threats such as a knife, or gun-wielding attacker. One remarkable attribute of this kind of combat skill involves facing an enemy head-on, notwithstanding the set of skills that you possess. Such adaptations place Krav Maga above other martial arts techniques when it comes to self-defense. 

Real-time Action

The practical aspect of it is that, when engaged in a fight, it is all about how one employs their skills that matter in the end. It is not about how skilled you are or have trained for combat or competition. How you use these skills is what will make the difference for you at long last.  Furthermore, it all depends on the purpose and adaptability for your training. Whereas Krav Maga prepares a fighter for real-time situations and how to survive in this tough world, Muay Thai is solely for competition and earning points for winners who normally progress to the next round of fighting.

A fighter resting

The downside with the Krav Maga mode of fighting is that one cannot possibly spur fully with a partner. Since it involves brute force, it is at times very hard for those who are training to engage their sparring partners full throttle. Or else you might end up injuring or incapacitating them. However, if you practice slowly, it might seem boring for you and may feel that you are not giving your best. This is the dilemma that most Krav Maga combatants normally find themselves in. 

When it comes to Muay Thai, it can be used both in the ring and for self-defense against any danger that might arise. It looks subtle but very deadly if used in the right manner. The best thing about this ring type of fighting is that you can fully and comfortably spar with your partner without fear of injuries or incapacitation. It allows you to gauge yourself by going full throttle on your training partner. 

It allows you to take note of your areas of weaknesses, allowing you to improve on those areas, while at the same time, fine-tuning your set of skills so that you will not be caught off-guard during competition or self-defense. 

Most Krav Maga techniques have been borrowed from Thai boxing and have been perfected over time into the ultimate street fighting machine. Muay Thai though is not hinged on armed combat, it enables fighters to attain top-class fitness and set of self-defense skills, which if used correctly can be unmatched by anyone.

Training for Your Survival: Krav Maga vs. Muay Thai

Since Muay Thai is a kind of martial arts mainly used in competitions, it might not fully serve its purpose outside in the real world. But remember that it is how an athlete shows their prowess using the set of skills that they have trained for is what will make or break them. Be it inside the ring or outside on the streets. Your instincts must be top-notch in any martial arts combat, it enables you to predict your opponent’s next move, enabling you to catch them napping with your killer blow.

two people fighting

Apart from real-time threats of the outside world, Krav Maga has been adopted by nearly every military facility and law enforcement agencies worldwide. Probably because it has no rules and suitable for any situation on the ground. However, it is also how a fighter adapts themselves with the situations they are in and the level of discipline that will save the day.

For me, I shall go for the Muay Thai, since it is subtle but deadly and can best be used for competition and self-defense.

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