Is Krav Maga Deadly? (Plus Safety Statistics)


Is Krav Maga Deadly lg

You’re familiar with some martial arts and self-defense systems and probably know that Krav Maga is one of the most effective ways to defend yourself. And you might even know it originated with the Israeli military. But is Krav Maga deadly?

Here’s what I’ve seen over the years:

Krav Maga is deadly because it is a self-defense system that is devoid of any rules. It is about being able to defend oneself quickly, by any means necessary. The most vulnerable parts of an attacker’s body are what is usually targeted.

This is one of the key reasons it is indeed deadly.

Krav Maga is not a martial art, so it is devoid of some of the spiritual and harmonious components that are an essential part of most Eastern martial arts.

These often require many years to master. Krav Maga, on the other hand, is focused and actionable, and its most vital elements can be learned in 12 months.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into what makes Krav Maga lethal.

Let the fun begin…

Is Krav Maga the deadliest martial art?

Krav Maga is not a martial art but rather a self-defense system. And while it can be deadly, Muay Thai is probably the deadliest martial art given how many practitioners are injured each year.

Krav Maga is based on an ethos of “whatever works” and is about leveraging fast-acting techniques to incapacitate an attacker.

There’s no consideration shown for the attacker. So no doubt, it can be very deadly.

Krav Maga is designed for combat. And combat only. And, one of the reasons is the context in which it was developed.

It was developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, who was into wrestling and boxing. He developed it originally to help Jews protect themselves against anti-semites if they are physically attacked.

The Israelis, as you know, regularly get embroiled in conflict. So, they had to adopt a super-effective form of defense, or they may not survive.

There’s hardly any other form of self-defense that has been, and that is being actually tested in battles.

Practitioners of Krav Maga don’t have the luxury of trying to live in harmony with folks who are trying to kill them.

Krav Maga was developed by its military, the Israeli Defence Force, and is being used by many military forces. That should tell you something.

It’s a system that has incorporated techniques from a variety of other systems, such as:

  • Boxing
  • Wrestling
  • Karate
  • Judo
  • Aikido

It’s a deadly mix.

Consider, for example, that groin kicks are a part of what you’ll learn. It doesn’t look nice or harmonious if you ask me, but you’ll agree that it’s deadly in a real fight.

It’ll instantly “cripple” your opponent. The goal is to quickly neutralize the opponent by focusing on weak points in their body. You’ll agree that a kick to the groin would do that.

Many people are not familiar with this form of self-defense. 

You’ll see a lot of contests and competitions on Judo, Karate, and the usual suspects, but not on KM because the techniques are lethal!

It’s not like the neatly choreographed and fun martial arts we enjoy watching. It’s focused on how to fight real-life contests with one or more assailants, armed or without weapons.

Say a Kung Fu fighter and a Krav Maga fighter have a go at it. 

Who do you think would trounce the other? Check out a recent article of mine, where I looked at both systems.

Bruce Lee, of course, is probably the most famous Kung Fu practitioner, having started with Wing Chun (a form of Kung Fu) before creating his own system. Surely he could beat anyone??

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What’s the difference between Krav Maga and Systema?

Krav Maga is a relatively new Israeli self-defense system, whereas Systema is a millennia-old Russian martial art. Both avoid choreographed movement and are used by the military. But Systema focuses more on breath, fluidity, and the release of tension to prevent telegraphing movements. Both can be deadly.

Philosophically, both systems are different. Systema, being a martial art, the focus is on the holistic development of practitioners.

Both have a religious background, with Systema being Christian and Krav Maga having been originated by Jews.

In terms of techniques, Systema is much more fluid.

It doesn’t involve pre-defined techniques since the focus is on training the practitioner to hone their reflex actions to a point where they can be used for maximum efficiency in subduing threats.

As a result, people unfamiliar with Systema often make claims of it being “fake” since the movements are often so small, the results almost don’t look real.

Having been on the receiving end of a few Systema masters’ punches, I can attest they are very real.

Krav Maga employs pre-defined techniques aimed at threat-elimination as quickly as possible. These include groin-kicks, elbow-strikes, eye-gouging…

There’s a focus on maximum efficiency, too, but it’s not on subduing but eliminating.

So, a Krav Maga fighter would not think twice in unleashing elbow strikes in a situation where a Systema fighter may have opted for a technique that simply immobilizes their assailant.

Yeah. KM is highly effective, but is it something you can teach yourself? 

That’s what I explored in a recent article of mine. I showed that you could teach yourself and shared actionable tips that’d help you.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is Krav Maga focused on killing someone?

Krav Maga is not focused on killing. It is focused on immobilizing an attacker as quickly as possible without regard for the damage done to the assailant. But the goal would be to stop them from furthering the attack, and in most cases, that would not involve killing someone.

Krav Maga is about the most effective, fast-acting self-defense techniques.

Techniques that are proven to protect oneself from harm. It is rare, but in some attacks, one’s life may be at stake. In such scenarios, a Krav Maga practitioner won’t hesitate to “end the problem.”

Krav Maga is not focused on killing at all.

It’s essentially a form of self-protection, where the focus is on “smart” fighting. In other words, what’s the best and quickest way to incapacitate an attacker.

This is what would play out in most attacks. It could be a case of mugging, a drunk, a thief… Most assailants are untrained fighters.

This is where a knowledge of Krav Maga can help an individual protect oneself, even in situations that an untrained fighter may find confusing and utterly stressful.

The trained KM fighter knows how to defend themselves and some “crude” but deadly moves they can employ if the fight turns nasty.

But, killing is not the focus in training for the real-life use of Krav Maga. 

Kenpo is a strain of Karate that’s highly regarded. But how does it compare to Krav Maga? In a recent article of mine, I showed which one is better.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How dangerous is Krav Maga to learn?

Krav Maga is not dangerous if one learns with trained and certified instructors. These instructors train in gyms that are safe, and they have a structured, sequential approach to training. Padded gear is also used to protect the students.

It’s only when a student has mastered a prerequisite technique that they proceed to the next. In such contexts, Krav Maga is not dangerous to learn.

Safety is a vital factor in the best gyms. Training in such environments is not dangerous at all.

Apart from a physical environment that’s been designed and equipped to be conducive and safe, students are required to buy and use protective gear each time they train.

The curriculum is also flexible so that no one progresses to the higher (“dangerous”) stages until they have grasped the fundamentals.

Instructors are also in charge of who spars with who, and in time a culture of safety is fostered. Considering some of the lethal techniques, one might conclude that KM is dangerous.

In truth, KM is safe if you learn it in a good gym or take certain safety precautions if you’re teaching yourself.

But don’t take my word for it. In a recent study published by the National Library of Medicine, they found that:

  • 916 Israeli soldiers sustained injuries practicing Krav Maga in a 1-year period (out of 169,500 active soldiers) – That is .54% of the total
  • Those soldiers were injured 946 times
  • 95% of those injured were male (women typically only represent about 4% of combat divisions)
  • 92% were between the ages of 18-22
  • 31% of the injuries were to the fingers, hands, and wrists
  • 16% of injuries were to the shoulders
  • Surgery was only required in 33 cases

(source)

What are the deadliest Krav Maga techniques?

Fights start in a standing position, therefore, the most lethal Krav Maga techniques include elbow strikes, groin kicks, eye gouges, and knee strikes. 

Singly or in combination, they are guaranteed to incapacitate an assailant.

But, let’s check out 3 techniques.

Groin Kick

Yes, you read it correctly. Groin Kick. All’s fair in Krav Maga. The groin is perhaps the most sensitive part of a man’s body. But it could be effective against a woman attacker as well.

There’s hardly any man alive that can ignore the pain in that region. To be effective, it must be swift.

After all, if they saw it coming, they’ll probably protect the region or seize your leg. You can use your shin, foot, or knee.

You judge the distance. If there is a bit of distance, the shin is the ideal weapon.

I won’t advise that you use your foot unless you’re able to gauge the distance it’s easy to miss. But, the shin and knee are more likely to hit the mark. Use all the power you can unleash. They’ll go down.

Elbow Strikes

The elbow strike when it’s properly employed could have a devastating effect. So, learn how to strike with the elbow.

As long as you have an opening, you can use it. It’s so effective because the bone in that portion is probably stronger than that in our fists.

Say an attacker grabbed you in the “classic” fashion, from the front, in a slightly bent position, such that your head is on the same level with theirs or is slightly higher.

As long as you have one or both arms free, aim your elbow forcefully against their back and shoulder blades with all you’ve got, and they’ll leave you.

Make it a barrage of elbow strikes, not just one. It’s more powerful to use both elbows. They’ll be stunned and helpless for a while.

Knee Strike

It’s easy to employ, but it’s as deadly as the two we’ve looked at above once you have the opportunity or have created it.

Hold the assailant on the neck and bend their head downwards such that they are bent. Then, use your knees repeatedly to strike their solar plexus until they collapse and fall!

By now, you’re probably sold on how lethal KM is. But can Krav Maga beat MMA?

This is what I explored in a recent article of mine. In it, I showed that it’d be a tough call. After all, both use techniques culled from several different martial arts. But as tough as most MMA fighters are, they are still bound by rules, whereas Krav Maga fighters are not.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

Krav Maga is the deadliest “martial art” in the world.

But really, it’s not an actual martial art, but instead a self-defense system. Yes, the distinction between the two can be small, and the lines can get blurred. But it’s still a distinction worth noting.

It was designed to equip practitioners with fast-acting and effective skills for protecting themselves.

In the article, we looked at what makes it the deadliest, whether it’s focused on killing someone. No, it is not. We compared it with Systema — a Russian, millennia-old martial art.

We looked at how dangerous it is to learn. It turns out it’s not. Good gyms prioritize the safety of their students. Lastly, we checked out 3 deadly Krav Maga techniques.


Photo which requires attribution:

Still frame taken from Krav Maga NYC / Upper West Side Machete Attack by Krav Maga Experts is licensed under CC2.0 and the still frame was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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