Krav Maga vs. Aikido for Self-Defense: Which Is Better?

Aikido rose to prominence in the ’90s, thanks to Aikido master Steven Segal. And while Aikido can be powerful, it’s also designed to be peaceful. Krav Maga, on the other hand, is designed to be lethal. So I wondered which was better. So let’s explore Krav Maga vs. Aikido for self-defense.

Here’s what I know from doing a little bit of both:

Krav Maga is better for defending yourself than Aikido. It’s designed solely for self-defense, whereas Aikido is all about inflicting as little damage as possible to an opponent and living in harmony with all living things.

Ultimately, Krav Maga avoids the “philosophical and spiritual stuff” that’s often integral to most Eastern martial arts. It’s about defending yourself as quickly as possible. You don’t stop until you finish the problem!

Now, I’m not saying that the spiritual component has no value. I value it a lot. I’m just saying it’s not going to help you in a life or death situation.

Aikido, on the other hand, is too peaceful to help you when the stakes are high. That’s not to say it’s ineffective. But, if you’ve got to choose, it’s better to opt for Krav Maga, probably the most lethal combat system.

I have been involved with martial arts on and off all my life and seriously for the past 7 years. In this article, we’ll check out Krav Maga and Aikido and why you might want to focus on Krav Maga if self-defense is your primary goal.

Let the fun begin…

Is Krav Maga more effective for self-defense than Aikido?

Yes, Krav Maga is more effective than Aikido for self-defense. Krav Maga is strictly designed for self-defense. The goal is to destroy the assailant as quickly as possible and to use whatever force is necessary. Aikido’s focus on avoiding conflict and hurting others is not as effective in a life-and-death situation.

We can look at this from two angles: each martial art’s underlying philosophy and the techniques employed.

Krav Maga is not really a martial art in the traditional sense. It’s not a holistic system focused on character development and self-defense, like a lot of Eastern martial arts.

Aikido, on the other hand, is not really designed solely for self-defense.

It’s good for self-defense, but it’s highly limited, relative to Krav Maga. Aikido is probably the noblest and most profound martial art. It’s not just about being skilled in fighting and refining one’s character.

It’s also about ensuring there’s harmony in the world.

Even when a fight ensues, the Aikidoka strives to ensure that he does not harm his opponent any more than necessary! (This is highly unrealistic in a real brawl).

The reality, however, is that in most instances where we have to defend ourselves, lofty ideals are the last things on our minds.

Breaking a jaw, a nose, or ensuring someone gets knocked down or out are often what’s going on in our minds. When you’re faced with a life-threatening situation, Aikido, while certainly better than no training, is not ideal.

You’ll be better served by Krav Maga’s mindset and techniques.

Since Aikido is peaceful, does it work for self-defense?

Aikido can work for self-defense and is certainly better than not knowing any self-defense techniques or other martial arts. Aikido would certainly be effective against those who are not skilled fighters or familiar with martial arts.

So, yes, and no. It depends on the context.

Some techniques allow the Aikidoka to leverage the attacker’s energy against them. It’s essentially a defensive artform. It’s about harmonizing with everyone, including one’s opponents.

So, in a contest, such as a street brawl, the Aikido is not out to destroy the other, they are out to overpower them without harming them.

You’ll agree this might work most of the time, seeing as most street fighters are seldom professionally trained.

But, when the stakes are really high, Aikido might not work if an Aikidoka is fighting with someone who’s out to cripple or destroy them, someone who has no qualms about inflicting any kind of damage. They’ll have to forgo the mindset that Aikido has fostered in them.

They can’t remain peaceful and defensive, or they’ll be toast!

I explored this issue in some depth in a recent article of mine: How Effective is Aikido for Self Defense? In it, I showed that using minimal throws, joint locks, and wrist control, Aikido can be an effective system for self-defense.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How does Krav Maga compare to Aikido?

Krav Maga is a simple self-defense system and not a true martial art. It has no spiritual components, and the only philosophy is to render your opponent disabled as quickly as possible. Aikido, by comparison, while utilizing some similar moves, is about harmony, not destruction.

Krav Maga is of Israeli, not East Asian origin. It was developed by Imi Lichtenfeld to help Jews combat anti-semites who were attacking them.

It’s a lean and mean system.

There’s no core aspiration of trying to be an instrument of peace in the universe. It’s about how to quickly destroy one’s opponents as soon as possible and l.use any means necessary. Its ethos is: whatever works.

So, all is fair game in KM.

In fact, one of the most common pictures of KM, which I saw a few days ago, showed a KM fighter gouging out someone’s eyes with one hand while squeezing the person’s balls with the other!

The idea is that you do whatever is necessary to destroy your assailant, and you don’t stop until you’ve “finished the problem.”

Aikido is a combo; its elements cover self-defense, self-development, and social intelligence. Its ultimate goal is harmony. Loosely translated, it’s “the way of harmonious spirit.”

This reflects its essence. Its founder, Morihei Ueshiba, was skilled in several martial arts and was also a spiritual man.

If we’re asked to choose the best martial art, if by best, we mean the one most likely to help build an ideal society, we’ll choose Aikido. It’s the softest martial art other than Tai Chi, while Krav Maga is the most practical self-defense system.

If the stakes are high, and you have to protect yourself, look no further than KM.

Aikido’s philosophy is fantastic, even though the art itself may not help you as much in a fight against some crazy dude.

But what exactly is Aikido’s full philosophy? You’re in luck because, in a recent article of mine, I take an in-depth look at it, including the 1 thing that can actually make it a deadly martial art.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can a Krav Maga fighter beat an Aikido fighter?

A Krav Maga fighter would beat an Aikido fighter who had trained the same amount of time. This is due to the fact that the Krav Maga practitioner’s only goal would be to immobilize the Aikido fighter without regard to their well-being.

The Krav Maga practitioner also has an edge in the sense that KM is actually a combination of fighting techniques that have been drawn from a variety of styles.

I’ll explain. Krav Maga has borrowed from boxing, wrestling, judo, aikido, and other martial arts.

So, the KM fighter is most likely hip to Aikido moves and knows how to frustrate an Aikidoka or counter their moves. The Krav Maga fighter is psychologically and physically prepared to use any “technique,” no matter how despicable to destroy.

The throws, wrist locks, and joint locks that an Aikidoka might be relying on to give him an edge are not strange to the KM fighter.

It’s hard to control a dude’s wrist when they’re repeatedly kicking you in your groin and trying to scratch your eyes out!

But a Kung Fu fighter would crush a KM fighter, right? Not so fast, champ. Check out a recent article of mine, where I showed which one’s better and why.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Are Krav Maga or Aikido used in MMA?

Neither Krav Maga nor Aikido is used in MMA. Most of Krav Maga’s techniques and some of Aikido’s joint locks are banned by the MMA. But Aikido can also too passive. While there are MMA fighters who have trained in both, they have also trained more extensively in other martial arts more.

This, in a nutshell, is why.

Of course, one could argue that kicks and elbow strikes (used a lot by Jon Jones) are the kind of moves a KM fighter would employ. Or that some throws, wrist locks, joint locks…remind one of Aikido. (These techniques are not really specific to Aikido).

But really, those moves are probably coming from their training in either Muay Thai or Judo.

The UFC won’t allow certain techniques (common to KM) to be used in MMA, a rules-based sport. And, it’s understandable. After all, we don’t really want to watch a fight where someone kicks another’s groin repeatedly until they slump or blinds them by eye-gouging!

And, we don’t want to watch a fight where both parties are so defensive, they merely dance around in the Octagon, displaying slow, enchanting moves.

We, and the audience, want to watch a suspenseful, keenly contested, and riveting fight that’s bound by fair rules.

And, MMA fighters want to win. But they don’t want to get so damaged they can’t fight their next scheduled fight.

There’s fame and fortune when they win. And, truth be told, Aikido would not help them win.

If an MMA fighter is going to incorporate some techniques into their own style, and they have to choose, they’ll most probably borrow and adapt techniques from Krav Maga.

But, are Krav Maga classes worth it?

I’ve got you covered. Check out an in-depth exploration in a recent article of mine. I explore exactly what they do, how long it takes to get good (the answer will surprise you), and what it costs.

Just click the link to read it on my site.


In the preceding paragraphs, we explored Krav Maga vs. Aikido.

We looked at each one’s strengths and weaknesses and which one is more effective and why. We wrapped up by checking out why we rarely see KM or Aikido in MMA. We found out that both are effective but that you’re better off with KM when the stakes are high.

Its foundation and techniques are singularly designed for effective self-defense.

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