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


Everyone has heard how lethal Krav Maga can be. But there’s no denying a Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali, and their boxing skill would be a formidable match for anyone. So let’s look at Krav Maga vs. Boxing for self-defense:

Here’s what I know from doing a small amount of both:

Krav Maga is better than boxing for self-defense as it was designed solely for self-defense. Boxing is a sport with rules and a limited range of techniques and doesn’t work well in a life-and-death situation.

But that’s just a quick glimpse.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive and examine both Krav Maga and boxing to see how they compare, differ, and which one might be more effective in a street fight or attack.

Let’s get going.

How does boxing compare to Krav Maga?

Boxing is totally different from Krav Maga. Gloves are worn in boxing, it has specific rules, and it’s focused on trying to knock out an opponent with a punch. Krav Maga, by comparison, is a complete self-defense system where the goal is to incapacitate an assailant by any means necessary as quickly as possible.

So, first off, we need to compare the goals of each style.

Boxing is a sport. Of course, you can use it for self-defense. Krav Maga, on the other hand, is purely for self-defense. It’s not a sport. It’s not about entertainment or fancy “Mohammed Ali” footwork.

This distinction is important because boxing is rules and time-bound, while there are no such things in Krav Maga.

A Krav Maga fighter won’t stop “until the problem is finished.”

Second, Krav Maga is a combo of many fighting styles. It includes boxing, judo, jujitsu, and aikido. So, in a sense, a Krav Maga practitioner has an edge over someone who’s solely familiar with boxing.

The Krav Maga fighter has multiple fighting skills at their disposal. And, they’ll use them.

While the boxer knows only boxing! Boxing is good. Don’t get me wrong. But, compared to a Krav Maga fighter who knows boxing and at least 3 other fighting styles, you can imagine what’s likely to be the result of a contest between both.

Third, this is an extension of the first point.

The mindset of a trained sportsman and that of someone who’s out to incapacitate another are worlds apart. Krav Maga allows techniques that a boxer would find surprising and even despicable.

For example, a good boxer won’t think of hitting you “below the belt,” they’ll think it’s beneath them, or at least acknowledge it’s against the rules.

A Krav Maga fighter, on the other hand, has no qualms about kicking you repeatedly in the groin and unleashing elbow strikes while they’re at it!

In fact, the groin-kick is one of their go-to moves. All is fair game when they’re focused on defending themself. They’re not psychologically, morally, or physically constrained.

If you’re being bullied or if a child’s being bullied, learning martial arts is one of the best things to consider.

In a recent article of mine, I explored its many benefits. After all, learning martial arts doesn’t make a peaceful person violent. It simply gives them confidence and the ability to work through challenges instead of giving up.

Just click the link to read it on my site and see ALL the benefits.

Which is better in a street fight: boxing or Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is better in a street fight than boxing. Street fights are not based on rules or rigid techniques as a boxer is used to. Krav Maga fighters train to defeat opponents by any means necessary using a wider variety of techniques.

A boxer is used to certain techniques, which are patterns they’ve mastered that could give them an edge over a fellow boxer or an untrained street fighter.

As an example, one of the techniques that advanced boxers master is the “Philly Shell.” It’s a stance, a position, if you will, that protects them from most of the punches from the opponent.

This excellent stance won’t work at all in a contest with a Krav Maga fighter. Why?

In a boxing contest, the other boxer won’t try to kick the legs of the other. They won’t use their elbows on the head, neck, or shoulder of the other. A Krav Maga fighter would!

A Krav Maga fighter would even fake a punch to distract the boxer.

The boxer would probably want to deflect with a shoulder roll (classic Philly shell move), but the KM fighter would instead kick the boxer in the groin repeatedly and at the same time probably unleash a flurry of elbow strikes.

In fact, the Krav Maga fighter would do whatever is necessary, not merely to hurt the boxer but to incapacitate them. They could use wrist control to cripple the boxer’s defense while head-butting him! KM’s ethos is “whatever works.”

When a person who’s ready to use any means to destroy an opponent is fighting someone whose instinctive moves are trained and constrained by patterns they believe are fair, you don’t need to be a soothsayer to know who’s likely to win.

You’re probably thinking: “Okay, okay, I get it, KM is killer.” But a boxer should be able to trounce a Taekwondo fighter, right?

Well, well.. why not find out? I devoted a recent article of mine to it. After all, both sports are in the Olympics, and both can be deadly. But which one is really better?

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is Krav Maga better than boxing?

Krav Maga is better for self-defense, but boxing is better for fitness, flexibility, and sport. While professional boxers sometimes see head injuries, it will be safer to train in boxing in most cases.

So, it depends on your needs and goals.

Neither is a true martial art. Krav Maga is a self-defense system, and boxing is a sport. So you’ll have to be clear about why you’re considering both styles.

If your focus is an entertaining sport, that’ll also help you keep fit, boxing is better. And Krav Maga is probably overkill.

As we’ve seen above, Krav Maga’s goal is to cripple or destroy an opponent as quickly as possible. It’s purely for self-defense. But boxing will work just fine for most of us if we truly found ourselves in need of self-defense skills.

But, if you live in a dangerous or risky neighborhood or work in one, Krav Maga might be the way to go.

That’s especially true when you don’t want to take chances. I truly suspect that most people may never be in a situation where they’ll have to cripple or destroy another. (But, that could just be the idealist in me).

You know your situation. If you work in the military, police force, are a bouncer, or a bodyguard, Krav Maga would be great.

But, if you’re simply thinking of being proactive about self-defense, boxing is good enough. It is also good for self-defense. Say you’ve mastered how to throw badass uppercuts, crosses, or hooks?

You can be lethal in a street fight!

Can a Krav Maga fighter defend themselves against a boxer?

An experienced Krav Maga fighter can defend themself against a boxer who has trained the same amount of time. Krav Maga practitioners know not only basic boxing skills but also a large array of other attack techniques a boxer would be unfamiliar with.

In point of fact, a Krav Maga fighter could destroy a boxer. How?

Don’t forget that the KM dude is also knowledgeable about boxing techniques. Consider a scenario where they lure the boxer into thinking that the contest would be based on boxing.

They adopt the classic boxing stance and lure the other into a false sense of security.

The boxer thinks, “Hey, this is my territory. I’ll sucker punch this fool.” He throws a couple of jabs and aims for a cross or hook. The KM dude flinches as the blow connects. “I’ve got the sucker,” the boxer thinks and moves closer.

But then the KM dude dodges the second punch, clinches, and grabs the boxer, lifting him off the ground, and throws him to the ground.

Most boxers can only fight well while they’re standing.

The boxer is stunned and psychologically and physically loses confidence. Before they could think their way out of the sudden takedown, a barrage of elbows strikes disorients and stuns them into submission.

The surprising thing is that the KM dude is trained not to stop until a “problem is finished” (a way of saying until they completely overpower and give the other a gruesome beatdown!).

While the boxer crouches, the KM dude is probably also punching them in the head while one of their hands is trapped! Don’t forget that Krav Maga’s mantra is “whatever works.”

I haven’t even mentioned eye-gouging. Yes, eye-gouging. So, if a boxer and a KM dude were to clash, I’ll put my money on the Krav Maga fighter.

By now, you’re probably sold on the value of Krav Maga. But are Krav Maga classes worth it?

A recent article of mine goes into greater detail on the value of learning KM. What do you learn? How long will it take to get good? And how expensive is it?

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can you learn both boxing and Krav Maga?

Basic boxing techniques will be part of Krav Maga training. However, it works well to train both boxing and Krav Maga, as the boxing taught in Krav Maga won’t be as thorough as if you’ve learned boxing alone.

So, yes, you can learn both.

In fact, I think this is the best approach. So, if you can swing it, learn both. If you’re in a mild fight, you could end it quickly with a few lethal punches you’ve picked up from boxing.

And, if you’re unfortunate to be in a fight with a wild mofo, simply unleash your Krav Maga skills, and cripple the sucker. After all, your life could be at stake. But, I honestly believe the KM skills should almost always be used as a last resort if the stakes are truly high.

Did you know that Krav Maga is taught to and used by the military?

For real. The truth is that master KM dudes can KILL. “Whatever works” and “until a problem is finished” are actually deadly concepts.

That’s not the aim of boxing, which is more for fun, fitness, and sport. So, it’s smart to learn both and to “program” yourself that “I’ll simply be a boxer most of the time.”

Considering what we’ve been checking out, what do you think will happen if a Krav Maga fighter were to fight a Kung Fu guy?

Who’s going to win? I explored which fighting style is better in a recent article of mine. Kung Fu, of course, is an ancient Chinese martial art first brought to popularity by Bruce Lee. And there’s no denying Lee’s skills. But can Kung Fu beat Krav Maga?

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

Wow. That was interesting, right?

We compared boxing to Krav Maga. We looked at which one’s better in a street fight, whether KM is better than boxing, whether a KM fighter can defend themself against a boxer, and if one can learn both.

We found out that a KM dude would most probably crush a boxer.

But, that boxing is good for most scenarios one would like to experience, and that KM should always be used as a last resort, seeing as it can be deadly!


Photos that require attribution:

Ali! Ali! Ali! by Dave Hogg and krav maga epo test II-53 by leopoldo de castro are licensed under CC2.0 and were cropped, combined, with a text overlay, and laid on top of another attribution-free photo.

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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