Is Krav Maga Used In MMA?

Any form of martial arts can be looked at as a form of self-defense, but unlike most disciplines, the main purpose of Krav Maga is survival and administering pain.

With so many of the most important aspects of Krav Maga considered to be dirty or “street” moves, many people wonder whether or not Krav Maga is even used in MMA at all. So, is it?

Is Krav Maga Used In MMA?

Yes, some elements of Krav Maga training are used in MMA. However, many Krav Maga moves are banned from MMA fights. The main goal of Krav Maga training is to protect yourself in a street fight or a dangerous situation. For this reason, many fighters do not incorporate Krav Maga into their training. 

If this is your first time hearing about Krav Maga, then you will want to stick around for the rest of the article where we will go over its details, why it is frowned upon in MMA, and why many fighters do not add the particular fighting discipline to their MMA training.

Before getting into the relationship between Krav Maga and MMA, you must first learn what Krav Maga is.

What is Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is a form of self-defense and striking. This discipline is designed to help people of any age, gender, and size defend themselves and their families in dire situations. A lot of Krav Maga involves street fighting tactics because it is seen as a means of survival. It also helps your awareness and instinct. 

Unlike many other disciplines, Krav Maga covers a wide variety of fighting techniques. Krav Maga teaches you to use every part of your body as a tool during a fight.

When you are trying to protect yourself, you want to deal as much damage to your attacker as you can. This means causing the most pain and discomfort, regardless of how it is done. 

This discipline can typically be taught to novice fighters in a relatively short period of time. Proper training can make you a proficient hand-to-hand fighter very quickly.

  • Knees to the groin 
  • Joint manipulation (such as bending fingers and toes as a form of submission)
  • Headbutting
  • Weapon training
  • Eye gouging 

The list above shows some of the more unorthodox parts of the Krav Maga discipline. This discipline was originally created to improve the combat and self-defense skills of soldiers.

While other disciplines are taught with the purpose to train people to compete within the martial art, Krav Maga focuses on helping people with real-life fights. 

The best way to describe the Krav Maga discipline is that when it comes to using it in a real-life situation, there are no-holds-barred. There are no rules and the only purpose of using your Krav Maga is to win.

Krav Maga having no rules makes it clear and obvious as to why there are no competitions like there are for jiu-jitsu and karate, for example.

Do Any UFC Fighters Use Krav Maga?

As of this time, no UFC fighters famously use Krav Maga in their fights. While there are some fighters that may have training within the Krav Maga discipline, Krav Maga training does not necessarily translate well into the octagon. Karolina Kowalkiewicz has a Krav Maga background but does not use it in the UFC. 

Most UFC fighters skip past Krav Maga training and instead go into a more sophisticated discipline before polishing their game with other forms of training. More often than not, if you pair a UFC fighter with extensive training against someone who only knows Krav Maga, the UFC fighter will come out on top. 

Many MMA fighters come from different backgrounds. Some fighters are well-versed in wrestling or grappling, others earn black belts in martial arts disciplines such as jiu-jitsu, karate, and taekwondo, and others find their strength in boxing and fighting hand-to-hand.

The best UFC fighters eventually master multiple disciplines. 

If Krav Maga were not so unorthodox, there would be a better chance of seeing it be put to use in the octagon, but when you consider that many of the moves you learn in Krav Maga training are illegal in the UFC, it becomes impractical to use.

Some UFC fighters might have learned Krav Maga years before considering a career in MMA. 

Which Is Better: Krav Maga or MMA?

Choosing between Krav Maga and MMA will depend on what necessity you have for either choice. While MMA is likely the better option, learning it takes much longer than learning Krav Maga. MMA fighters will typically be able to defend themselves in real life, but Krav Maga may be better for non-professionals. 

Any form of fight training will eventually help you improve your self-defense skills although that is not always the main purpose of a discipline.

If the question is whether Krav Maga or MMA is better when it comes to competition, MMA will always be the better choice. However, Krav Maga also serves its purpose as well. 

If you are looking for a more accessible and easy-to-learn fighting technique, Krav Maga should be the choice for you.

MMA is a very broad spectrum and if you take the time and energy to learn several disciplines, you will be able to optimize your self-defense techniques in a dire real-life situation. However, it is easier said than done. 

Most people that you run into on the street likely do not have a background in fighting or self-defense so someone who knows Krav Maga should already have the upper hand.

However, in an octagon or MMA competition, Krav Maga training is more likely to get you disqualified than it is to make you a winner. Use it in bunches during an MMA fight.

Is Krav Maga Useful In MMA?

It never hurts to have as much training as possible as a UFC fighter. Learning Krav Maga never hurts and because a lot of UFC fights involve grappling and defense, there are some Krav Maga techniques that may end up being useful for a professional fighter in the octagon. However, most are considered too dangerous.

  • Knee striking 
  • Grappling 
  • Grappling defense 
  • Reversals and takedown defense techniques 
  • Instinct and awareness during a fight 

These are some of the techniques that would best transition into the octagon from a fighter with a Krav Maga discipline.

Just about any martial art or fighting style can eventually become useful for a UFC fighter, but someone who only has a Krav Maga background should never try to go against a trained MMA fighter. 

As mentioned before in the article, Krav Maga is a win at all costs method of fighting and it is more of a style of self-defense than it is a martial art.

If you go into an MMA fight using only Krav Maga training, you will either lose the fight quickly or get disqualified for using illegal moves that stem from your Krav Maga training. 

Regardless of your preferred method of fighting, you will eventually need to learn takedown and grappling defense if you are going to go far as a UFC fighter.

With that in mind, incorporating the self-defense aspects of Krav Maga can actually do good for your defense against a fighter that looks for takedowns during a fight. 


So while Krav Maga is a useful form of self-defense in real-life situations, it does not transfer over in MMA very well.

Despite its differences, having a background in Krav Maga can still be beneficial to a fighter for several reasons, but it would be wise to spend more time training in other disciplines and forms of martial arts. 

Interested in MMA? Check Out My Recommendations

Looking For Gear To Use When You Train?
If you are interested in training MMA, here is some of the gear I recommend:
Best Mouth Guard
Best MMA Gloves
Best Groin Protection
Best Rashguard
Want To Learn To Fight, But Don’t Want To Go In Person?
CoachTube has online training videos for Wrestling, Boxing, MMA and more. And best part is you can do it all from your home allowing you to go at your own pace. Check them out here.
Interested In Training Other MMA Fighters?
Click here to check out the MMA Conditioning Association and see what you need to become an MMA conditioning coach and begin training fighters.

Recent Posts