Krav Maga - Are There Different Styles?

We talk about Krav Maga like we talk about Kung Fu or Karate, but Karate has different established styles and so does Kung Fu but what about Krav Maga? The answer to that is a bit complicated.

Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu and many other martial arts were established centuries ago by those looking to protect themselves or to attack their enemies. From the time of its creation to now, masters and grandmasters began to put their own spin on things, eventually developing different styles all together but Krav Maga is different. Krav Maga doesn't have an ancient history or a philosophy. In fact since it's so different from other martial arts some consider it a 'fighting system' not a martial art. Nevertheless this system is starting to be taught in different ways.

The creator of Krav Maga is Imi Lichtenfeld, a professional fighter from Hungary who was very aware of the dangers facing Europe in WWII so he created Krav Maga the ultimate self-defense system. He later trained the Israeli army in Krav Maga and his style was included in soldiers' training. His successor, Eli Aviksar, founded the Israeli Krav Magan Association also known as IKMA. For a long time it was only taught to the Israeli army but in the 1980s a few masters went to other countries to teach Krav Maga to Jewish communities, this turned it into an international movement. The style that Imi taught was pretty straight forward and was all about strategy, not ritual. There weren't Katas or moral lessons or special uniforms like the kinds you saw in other martial arts and the reason for that was Krav Maga was supposed to be all about self-preservation and survival. It doesn't matter how cool you looked just as long as you could fight your way out of situation. There's a saying: “If it looks good it's probably not Krav Maga”.

As Krav Maga spread to other countries differences began to emerge. The ECKMF or the European Commando Krav Maga Federation can't teach certain techniques to civilians so laws prevent the original Krav Maga from being taught in some places.

Another reason why we see different 'styles' is traditional martial arts masters began to learn Krav Maga. The Israeli system works differently than what they already knew so when Karate masters trained and taught Krav Maga, their fighting style often looked like a hybrid of the two.

Today you'll see a few schools mention a specific kind of Krav Maga, like Commando Krav Maga (which is the most like military training) or Pure Krav (which says it's the style Imi taught).

Kung Fu has official styles like Tai Chi or Wing Chun but Krav Maga really doesn't , although some people may argue with that. The best way to know how Krav Maga is taught is see a lesson for yourself. Karate America in Orange Park, Jacksonville teaches several kinds of martial arts classes, including Krav Maga. If you want to learn more about or program visit our program page.