Boxing vs. Krav Maga: Which Is More Effective?

November 21, 2021

Boxing and Krav Maga are two popular martial arts that do not share much in common. These two are a world apart when it comes to techniques, history, emphasis, and many other factors.

Boxing is the most popular combat sport that has been around since ancient times. It is a simple art where the emphasis is on hand strikes and movement. Krav Maga, on the other hand, is a military system created for real combat. It is a brutal system that trains you how to use all limbs as weapons, and deal with armed or unarmed attackers.

Keep reading this article to find out more about Boxing vs Krav Maga. You will learn all the differences, and how these two compare in various aspects.

What Is Boxing?

Boxing is, perhaps, the most popular combat sport that also has a really long history. Its origins go back to the 3rd millennium BC in present-day Iraq. It has been a part of the Olympic Games ever since the 23rd Olympiad held in 688 BCE.

Despite such a long history, boxing has not changed over time and it remained very much the same. Of course, it became much safer, notably with the birth of “Queensberry Rules” in 1867, which are still in place.

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But the concept is the same. Boxers use punches to strike above the waist while wearing full padded boxing gloves and boxing shoes. They compete in a square ring for 12 rounds (professional matches) and fights can end via decision, knockout or disqualification.

There are many different boxing organizations and promotions. But the four major ones are IBF, WBC, WBO, and WBA.

What Is Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is one of the most effective arts created by the Israeli military in the 1950s. The original founder was Imi Lichtenfeld. He created Krav Maga after his own street fighting experience during the huge riots in Bratislava in the 1930s.

At the time, Lichtenfeld stood up to defend Jews together with his friends. But, he would soon realize that his boxing and wrestling skills couldn’t help him much in this type of street fight. This is the moment when he realized that the world needs a new fighting system, much more brutal.

Lichtenfeld would later move to Israel and with the help of their military, start working on creating Krav Maga. The final result was a system that includes only the best grappling and striking techniques from various martial arts like wrestling, judo, and boxing.

On top of that, the system includes dirty tactics and weapon-based training. It is often seen as the ultimate martial art because it trains a person for any type of fighting scenario. Krav Maga doesn’t have any rules. It is a brutal fighting system where the focus is on doing anything in your power to protect your life or the lives of your loved ones.

Boxing vs Krav Maga — What Is The Difference?

Boxing vs Krav Maga  What Is The Difference

Boxing is a combat sport while Krav Maga is a military combat system created for wars. That said, it’s not a surprise that these two arts differ a lot in just about every aspect. Here is a full look into all differences:

History And Origins

The earliest records of boxing go all the way back to the 3rd millennium BC. As a sport, it got introduced at 23rd Olympiad in 688 BCE in Ancient Greece. Back in those days, the matches used to be very brutal and violent. But that would change with the birth of Queensberry Rules in 1867, which also marks the birth of modern boxing we have today.

Krav Maga is a modern fighting system created in the 1950s by the Israeli military. Their initial goal was to improve hand to hand fighting abilities of their soldiers. But over time, Krav Maga also became a very popular option among average people who want to learn self-defense.

Strategies And Emphasis

Boxing is a combat sport where fighters compete under the rules using punches. Although this may sound simple with boxing being limited when it comes to weapons, it’s not.

The focus is on learning how to mix punches with footwork, head movement, blocks, and throw each strike with a violent intention. Despite all the rules, boxing is still very effective on the streets and a very popular option among people who want to learn self-defense tactics.

Krav Maga, on the other side, is all about real combat and fighting on the streets. There is no competition, matches, or rules. The entire emphasis is on survival, and finishing the fight as fast as possible. It allows you to use all kinds of techniques, including dirty ones like eye gouging and groin strikes. Students also learn how to target vital organs and soft spots of the body.


Boxing techniques are quite simple and it’s very easy to understand all the basics. In training, boxers learn the following techniques:


  • Pivoting
  • Sliding 
  • Shuffling

Head movement

  • Duck and pivot
  • Bob and weave
  • Slip and counter
  • Pull and counter

Krav Maga is more versatile than boxing. It includes many different techniques from grappling and striking arts like wrestling, Muay Thai, and Judo. It is impossible to put together all techniques, so here is a list of the most famous ones:

  • Hand, knee, elbow, and leg strikes
  • Passive and fighting stances
  • Dirty moves like kicks and knees to the groins, punch to the throat or eyes
  • How to fall to the ground without hurting yourself
  • Wrestling takedowns and judo trips and throws
  • Chokes, joint locks, and positions on the ground
  • Tactics on how to deal with multiple attackers and weapons

Boxing vs Krav Maga For Self-Defense

Boxing vs Krav Maga For Self-Defense

Krav Maga is a far better option than boxing for self-defense, and it’s hard to argue against that. It is a military combat system created for real combat while boxing is a sport that has rules. This doesn’t mean that boxing is bad by any means. But Krav Maga was designed entirely for street fighting.

Krav Maga is more versatile and it trains you how to use all limbs as weapons. Students learn solid boxing skills, and how to mix hand strikes with kicks, knees, and elbows to fight at all ranges, including the clinch. On top of that, it also teaches the basics of wrestling takedowns, judo throws, and trips.

If the fight hits the ground, fighters trained in Krav Maga know how to apply pins, get into a dominant position, and use chokes and joint locks. Overall, it is an all-around fighting system that covers all the elements of fighting.

But the aspect that clearly stands out is the intensity of training and dirty tactics. The coaches would do anything in their power to simulate real attacks and teach you how to stay calm.

Students learn how to assess the situation they are in, find the best solution, and deal with the attacker in the most effective way and get back home safe. If that means to blast them with a kick to the groins, throat, or eyes, Krav Maga encourages you to do that.

If a fight breaks out and there is a bottle next to you, Krav Maga allows you to grab it, and smash the attacker to the head. This may sound brutal but bear in mind that there are no rules in street fighting.

Boxing vs Krav Maga For MMA

Boxing vs Krav Maga For MMA

Boxing plays a much bigger role in modern MMA fighting than Krav Maga. There have been many great fighters, even UFC champions, who had a strong background in boxing. On the other hand, we can’t say the same for Krav Maga because this specific fighting system doesn’t fit well within the MMA rules, and here is why.

Krav Maga is a military system designed to be brutal in many different ways. Students learn how to attack the vital organs, soft spots, gouge eyes, strike throat and groins, and all types of other brutal techniques. As you would assume, these moves are not allowed in MMA, and doing this can only get you disqualified from a match.

On top of that, Krav Maga won’t teach you how to fight under the rules, or how to obey rules. You just can’t apply its concept of training to the sport of MMA.

Boxing, on the other hand, is more than present in cage fighting. Although it only includes punches, boxing teaches you all about footwork and head movement. In some way, you can’t expect to succeed in MMA without, at least basic, boxing skills.

Of course, boxers still need to learn other aspects like how to wrestle, fight on the ground, and check/throw kicks. But overall, the sweet science represents a good base. Some of the best MMA fighters with a strong boxing background are:

  • Conor McGregor
  • Cody Garbrant
  • Petr Yan

Boxing vs Krav Maga — Which One Is Harder To Learn?

It’s fair to say that Krav Maga is harder to learn simply because it is a more versatile style. It includes far more techniques than boxing that focuses just on standup fighting and hand strikes. Still, bear in mind that the sweet science is not a walk in a park either. You need to spend many years training hard to become a master.

Boxing may look easy to learn on paper as the only thing you need to learn is how to punch, right? But make no mistakes about it, boxing classes are among the hardest out of all martial arts.

First of all, the emphasis is on boxing conditioning as you must train your body and mind to go through a 12-round war, or 36 minutes of intense fighting in total if you are a professional. Even if you are an amateur, 3 x 2–3-minute rounds are brutal. Secondly, it includes a lot of sparring which is very hard on your body.

On average, people need around 6 months to learn all the fundamentals of boxing and start light sparring. After 1.5 years, you would reach a level where you can start taking part in amateur matches.

And this is also a level where you would be capable of executing boxing techniques in a real fight. To become a master, students need from 3 to 5 years, but this also depends on their individual talent, dedication, and many other factors.

Krav Maga is a complex fighting system and, in some way, becoming good at it is a lifelong journey. Learning never stops as there will always be new techniques and moves to master, similar to BJJ for instance.

On average, students need around 1 year to develop solid self-defense skills. But they need to train hard for around 4 to 6 years before they reach advanced levels.

Boxing vs Krav Maga — Who Would Win In A Street Fight?

boxing vs krav maga in a street fight

Let’s assume that fighters from both arts share the same level of skill. In that case, the Krav Maga fighter has a better chance of beating a boxer in a street fight. They simply have far more weapons at their disposal and are trained to deal with anything that a boxer has to offer in a fight. And the one who has more weapons in a fight is usually the one who wins.

First, let’s not forget that Krav Maga is a military system designed for street fighting. The entire concept of training revolves around real combat, violence, and different scenarios a person may face on the streets. Students drill different attacks, weapons, and how to deal with any type of threat.

Whether you need to strike with full power, slam the attacker with a grappling move, or blast them with a bottle to the head, Krav Maga doesn’t care as long as you are safe.

Boxers have solid chances to win the fight if they manage to keep their range and land punches from the outside. But bear in mind that Krav Maga’s training includes striking defense, and how to counter these attacks. On the other side, boxers don’t have a clue on how to deal with the kicks, or even worse, grappling moves.

It would be a game over as soon as a Krav Maga fighter goes for a throw or takedown. Once there, boxers would look lost and desperate. It would be just a matter of time before they get submitted with a choke or joint lock. And we don’t even have to bring dirty moves into the conversation.

Boxing vs Krav Maga — Which One Is Better For You?

These two fighting styles differ a lot from one another. Which one is better really comes down to what you want to achieve with your training. Before you make a final pick, bear in mind that you won’t make a mistake by choosing any of the two. Both martial arts offer you a good workout and will teach you all about real fighting.

Boxing is a combat sport that is a better option when it comes to fitness, strength, and flexibility. Training is cardio intense and will get you in top shape in a very short period. On top of that, it teaches you all about both the mental and physical aspects of fighting.

But Krav Maga should be your choice if you are looking for a pure self-defense fighting system. Whether it is a standup fight, ground fighting, or you have to deal with multiple attackers and weapons, Krav Maga covers all scenarios.

If you have a competitive nature, then boxing will be your best choice as you can compete in amateur competitions. There is no such thing as a Krav Maga competition or fight and therefore, all of your training will take place within the gym.

About the author 

Tomislav Zivanovic

Since 2017, Tomi has been working within the martial arts media, writing unique and creative articles about martial arts, and covering the most famous combat sports events. He works with some of the biggest martial arts blogs and websites like Middleeasy and Martial Arts Unleashed.


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