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When we are trying to compare two different Martial Arts like Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are a host of factors that one should consider. The most common reason for comparison between Martial Arts is so a potential student can decipher the differences, this is so they can make the most informed decision about which Martial Art they want to train in. Both forms of Martial Arts have a significant history that dates back to the early 1900’s. BJJ and Krav Maga share a similar rivalry like the one between Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai, as each Martial Art vows to be the supreme fighting system.

Learn the Fundamentals of Krav Maga with the help of!

jiu jitsu vs krav maga

Krav Maga is a self defense system which was developed to be used in hand to hand combat during early war torn conflicts. The Martial Art uses reactionary movements with an instinctive brand of high paced and brutal techniques designed to inflict pain and aggression on their attacker. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is another faced paced Martial Art which also utilises traditionally self defensive maneuvers to first take an opponent down to the ground. Once the fight is on the ground the BJJ fighter uses a series of control positions to gain the ability to submit their opponent with choke holds and various joint locks.

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Krav Maga has a significant history which dates right back to the 1930’s, where the Hungarian born Israeli Martial Artist Imi Lichtenfeild taught his fighting systems to one of the largest Jewish communities in Bratislava, Slovakia. It was here that Imi Lichtenfeild tried to help his fellow Jewish community fight back against the Nazi Militia. In the 1940’s Imi landed in Palestine, where he began teaching his aggressive hand to hand combat techniques to the Jewish underground Army.  

In 1948 the state of Israel was established as Imi became the prominent instructor of Krav Maga for the (IDF) Israli Defense Forces school of combat fitness. Imi served the IDF for 15 years as he further developed his fighting systems. In 1964 he left the military but continued to serve as a consultant in Krav Maga for both the military and law enforcement agencies. Imi would continue to improve his combat systems as he tailored his art to fit into the hands of ordinary civilians.

In 1981 a group of six Krav Maga instructors travelled to Jewish community centres in the United States of America where they would begin teaching their art abroad. As a result the FBI in New York and Quantico, Virginia took notice and sent 22 officers to Israel to learn the art of Krav Maga. The primary result was the establishment of many Krav Maga training centres in the US, which led to the art being taught to multiple law enforcement agencies as their primary hand to hand combat.


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a rich history that derives from Kokudan Judo, as the famous Jigoro Kano who founded a Japanese Jiu Jitsu school in 1882. Kano taught only the most effective techniques that would later be known as Judo. Kano had a serious emphasis on randori which is the ground aspect of Judo, where he taught joint locks and chokes holds. Roughly thirty years later one of Kano's best students, Mitsuyo Maeda travelled to Brazil where he became friends with a businessman named Gastao Gracie. Maeda would end up accepting Gastao Gracie’s teenage son, Carlos Gracie, as a student of his Martial Arts. Carlos worked extensively with Maeda as he mastered his craft under the tuition of the Japanese legend. 

Carlos would then share his knowledge with his younger brother Helio Gracie. During Helio's evolution of the art he realised his limitations for several of the Judo throws, due to his lighter and smaller frame. Helio began developing the Judo techniques into maneuvers he could utilise against bigger and stronger opponents, and this was the birth of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Over the years the Gracie family developed the art of grappling to include aspects of wrestling and sambo, as they went on to introduce the art to the United States of America. Through the successes of Royce, Rixon and Rorion Gracie the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has flourished exponentially.


When we compare Krav Maga to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there are distinctive differences. BJJ utilises a combination of Judo and Wrestling to get their opponents down to the mat, where Krav Maga uses a more combative approach. In Krav Maga a practitioner will use kicks to the groin, palm strikes to the nose, throat and temple, making it a more deadly intent out of the first action.

As a BJJ practitioner gets their opponents to the ground they will then use a series of control positions to subdue their opponent, before attempting to submit their opponent with strangulation techniques and numerous joint locks. As a Krav Maga practitioner lands on the ground with an opponent, they will continue to use brute force by striking to vital organs including using heel kicks.

Even though BJJ uses a smoother series of techniques that will ensure they win with total control and domination, they do not use strikes to gain advantage over their opponent's. A Krav Maga fighter will use any means necessary to immobilize their opponents with brutal tactics that have been designed for high conflict situations.


In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the training is highly repetitious, as the sparring training will put a practitioner under some seriously high stressful scenarios. This kind of training is more realistic and will give a practitioner a better understanding of Martial Arts and how to use it effectively. This form of Martial Arts is like Boxing in a sense as bjj or boxing both can be trained at a high pace and they both utilise real life practical application. 

This is where Krav Maga gets tricky, as the Martial Art is highly conceptual and is hard to put into real scenario practise. The art of Krav Maga uses brutal attacks like strikes to vital organs and delicate areas, making this an extremely hard Martial Art to practise in a real life situation. A real fight can be unpredictable and hard to gain the upper hand, and if a practitioner cannot train extensively under high stressful conditions then it is extremely hard to master.

Unlike Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a much safer bet in terms of how a student can develop in their skill set. Although training in Krav Maga may teach a student some prolific and dangerous attacks, unless the practitioner can find a way to battle test their techniques, it will become increasingly hard to improve. Krav Maga is a great choice for real life hand to hand combat, as it is the main choice for many law enforcement and military agencies. 


The major differences between these two powerful Martial Arts is how the art is trained, the testing, the uniforms and the ranking system. In Krav Maga they train extensively with weapon attack and weapon defense, this is due to the nature of the Israeli fighting system. Krav Maga has been created with various moves from other Martial Arts, but the main focus is vicious striking techniques. BJJ does not use any kinds of striking as it is a purely grappling Martial Art. 

Another difference is the ruleset, as BJJ follows a points system to determine the winner in a fight, if a submission is not achieved. BJJ also has a stringent ruleset in terms of certain submissions and movements that are banned. In BJJ you can't slam an opponent and in most divisions the banned moves include; knee reaping, any twisting leg locks including heel hooks, neck cranks and certain takedowns. In Krav Maga there are literally no rules, the brutal Martial Art boasts a no holds barred fighting style. 

In BJJ the ranking system is quite comprehensive as there are thirteen coloured belts in the kids divisions. The kids belts system starts from the white belt before going through the grey, yellow, orange and green belt groups, each coloured belt group has three different belts including a white striped version, a black striped version and a solid coloured version. In the Adults the belts start at white belt where the instructors will add four stripes over time until they move through the blue, purple, brown and finally black belt. There is also a coral and a red belt in BJJ but they are very rare belts to acquire. It usually takes a student ten years to achieve a black belt but it can take two decades due to the complexity of the art.

In Krav Maga the ranking system started with the white belt, before moving through the yellow, orange, green, blue, brown and black belts. This system was in place until the late 1980's, where the majority of academies switched over to ranking patches. The main reason for this was because the hierarchy of Krav Maga leadership wanted to distance themselves from other Martial Arts, as they wanted to be known as a Military Martial Art. The ranking patches include five practitioner ranks, five graduate ranks and five expert ranks. It is not uncommon for a Krav Maga practitioner to receive their highest rank in three to five years.

The two Martial Arts utilise different uniforms, as Krav Maga used to wear Gi's in the early days of their Martial Art. Nowadays Krav Maga uses just normal workout gear as they have tried to simulate ordinary clothing. In BJJ there are two different distinctive uniforms, one is the traditional Gi uniform which was worn by the Gracie's early on and still plays the most significant role in modern BJJ. The second uniform is worn in the No Gi division which is more known as grappling, as many students weigh up which style is better grappling vs bjj. No Gi has become extensively popular in recent times as they wear a rashguard, compression pants and shorts over the top.

Another difference between these two Martial Arts is that Krav Maga utilises a testing system. Most Krav Maga schools test their students before they can progress to the next rank. These tests include techniques and knowledge of the history of Krav Maga. BJJ has a different way to upgrade their students, as they rely on a slower more methodical accumulation of knowledge and skills. There are no tests involved, just old fashioned adjudication from a BJJ instructor.


This is a difficult question to answer as both styles are vastly different. It is a similar question to who would win a fight between bjj vs kung fu, as one style utilises strikes while the other is purely grappling based. Krav Maga has a brutal style of fast and dangerous attacks, which is unlike jiu jitsu vs aikido where aikido is purely self defense. Krav Maga's high conflict style could catch a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter off guard. A BJJ fighter will traditionally close the distance fast in order to secure takedowns which could neutralize a Krav Maga attack.

Even though a BJJ practitioner may be fast on their feet, a Krav Maga practitioner definitely has the advantage in the stand up game. In the art of Krav Maga the student will overwhelm a BJJ practitioner with deadly attacks like groin kicks and strikes to vital organs. There is a potential that Krav Maga will defeat BJJ, but the chance is perhaps only momentary.

Gershon Ben Keren is here to help you learn the FUNDAMENTALS OF KRAV MAGA!

krav maga vs bjj

Once the fight gets to the ground it is fair to say that BJJ has a definite advantage. A BJJ practitioner will use high intensity grappling which incorporates wrestling to smother a Krav Maga fighter in the heat of the battle. BJJ has a prolific and dynamic submission system that incorporates many different maneuvers like choke holds, arm locks and leg locks. Seeing as most fights get to the ground in a street situation, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu would have the upper hand if the two styles were to battle. BJJ would only have to avoid the first few instances before they would take control with their high intensity and transition grappling. Both Martial Arts are extremely reputable and both have valid and significant claims to why people should join their ranks.

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