Comparing sports discipline and military martial art is never easy, but have you ever thought about the origins of Thai boxing? In its early stages, the ancient Siamese martial art served for homeland defense. Traditional Thai boxing still contains some lovely defensive techniques, with or without a weapon.
Muay Thai Vs Krav Maga sounds like mixing apples and oranges, does it? Well, sorry guys, but I disagree. If you neglect the sports aspect of Thai boxing, you’ll notice many similarities with Israeli special-ops martial art. I am gonna take you on a deep dive.
Please read on thoroughly to get to know the similarities and differences between these two fighting styles. I bet you’ll be surprised by some facts!
Table of Contents
Adjusting Muay Thai For Self-Defense
Muay Thai is a sports discipline with a strict set of rules. It prohibits kicking to the groin, elbows to the back of the head, hitting the downed opponent, and submission game. Hitting to the throat, eye gouges, and biting will lead to disqualification in the ring.
The philosophy of Muay Thai is related to winning the opponent fair and square. But can you use Muay Thai for self-defense? Is it efficient against bullies? Let me remind you – there are no rules and regulations in the street fight!
Grabbing and Holding
Muay Thai is one of the most perfect martial arts when it comes to defending grappling bullies. The majority of them will try to show domination by holding you and yelling at you. But they forget the brutality of Thai boxing.
A good Thai warrior is an expert of a double-collar tie, single-collar tie, over-under, and one under-hook in. There is a countermeasure for any kind of grab. You can counter with a brutal slashing or horizontal elbow, or you can destroy your grappling foe with a standing 12-6 before you get dragged to the ground.
Even when the opponent establishes a tight body lock, you can still trip him with a lovely sweep and continue kicking him after he ends up on the canvas.
Muay Thai low kick is so powerful in the bout. This hard-to-defend strike can chop down even the bullies with the most powerful legs. But a slight modification might mean turning the lights out on the downed opponent.
Here’s an example – if the opponent ends up on the knee, you can land a devastating slashing low kick to his head and knock him out cold. I bet he’ll never mess with you again.
The Power of Knee
Muay Thai knee is heavily underestimated in a street brawl. As soon as you notice a grappling bully, it’s time to react quickly and teach him a lesson with a straight knee to the face. Plus landing knees from the clinch should be a piece of cake for Thai boxing specialists.
You can also modify knee strikes. For example, ONE FC allows knees to the head of the downed opponent, that’s a fight-ending move versus an untrained foe in 90% of cases, even when he weighs twice as you.
Muay Thai shin is very powerful. The majority of street fighters are untrained, but even if you have to deal with a trained thug, your kicks could easily break his arm. Shin is stronger than ulna and radius (forearm bones), I guarantee you that!
Krav Maga – Military Self-Defense Aspect
Krav Maga (literal translation “close combat”) serves to defend you from the enemy and to prevent your life.
It is a martial art of Israeli special forces, but it originates from Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. Imi Lichtenfeld, an expert in boxing and wrestling, discovered a new fighting style by combining different techniques from various fighting styles to defend from various bullies and gangs. Imi later moved to Israel and officially created the new martial art.
Unlike Muay Thai, there are no rules in Krav Maga. I mean, there is one rule – survive and defend by any means necessary. Illegal strikes and illegal moves don’t exist, you can’t break rules. The goal is “redirecting the opponent’s own strength to put him at a disadvantage”.
Krav Maga took the best from many martial arts – Aikido, Judo, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, and BJJ. The majority of Krav Maga defenses include at least one eye gouge, throat attack, or nut shot. Even a small and weak guy/woman could defeat a bigger and stronger attacker with ease.
Muay Thai Vs Krav Maga – Getting Straight To The Point
Now it’s time to get to the meat of the article Muay Thai Vs Krav Maga comparison. It’s time to break stereotypes and get to know which martial art is better.
One point goes for Krav Maga, hence Muay Thai is very good for self-defense too. But the problem is the set of rules. While Thai boxer is trained to obey the rules, Krav Maga fighter’s only point of interest is to leave the fight unharmed.
Muay Thai fighter will probably assume stance or try to land legal shots (no nut shots, eye gouges, etc.), while Krav Maga phenom instantly aims at the weakest areas of the opponent’s body. In Krav Maga, protection by any means necessary comes to the fore, a fight-ending strike in the split of the second.
Krav Maga teaches you to prevent attacks from all kinds of situations, with or without weapons. This means a broader range of defensive moves.
Grappling and Ground Skillset
Despite Muay Thai clinch is based on a bit of grappling, Krav Maga turns you into an extremely well-rounded fighter. Thai boxing specialist will have to deal with big problems if he gets dragged to the ground, while Israeli martial arts specialist will immediately go for a sweep or a submission attempt.
Krav Maga kicks are not technical, they are designed to hurt you. For example, a low kick is technically terrible, but it aims at calves or neural endings and opens up space for a fight-ending nut shot or a throat strike.
You’ll rarely see Krav Maga expert kicking higher than belt because there is a risk of catching the leg, so the advantage here goes in the favor of Muay Thai – kicks are stronger, more powerful, and more technical; and it’s more likely to hurt your opponent.
This is a tricky question. Muay Thai is based on combinations of straight punches, hooks, overhands, and uppercuts and looking for an open spot. On the other hand, Krav Maga always looks for the shortest way to the enemy’s body (like Jeet Kune Do), so straight strikes are the most frequent ones.
Here’s another point to note. Technically, Thai boxing offers more entertaining punches to watch, but there is no significant difference in knockout power. Don’t forget, Krav Maga fighters are experts of bare-knuckle strikes, which means a perfect angle on the most vulnerable spot of the enemy’s body.
Basic Philosophy Plus Dealing With Multiple Enemies
In Krav Maga, the immediate threats should be dealt with first (gun, pole, club, baseball bat…). Then the foe is neutralized to eliminate further threats. In Muay Thai, you’re focused on the threat (a human as a whole).
Both martial arts stick to the same principles when with dealing multiple opponents – do not let the opponents surround you and stay away from ground fighting by any means necessary.
Huge difference. Muay Thai fighter will pummel you and try to finish the fight with powerful knees or elbows, while a Krav Maga fighter immediately goes for an eye gouge, hand submission, or a finger to the throat.
But despite Krav Maga will probably finish the opponent earlier, the clinch striking advantage definitively goes in the favor of Muay Thai. Way more ways to finish the attacker.
I think this is the only pointless area of Muay Thai Vs Krav Maga comparison. Thai boxing is a sport, so you’ll get used to throwing lethal, but legal strikes; while the Israeli martial art allows every single kind of attack. You can’t get sanctioned for the worst foul on the planet because there are no judges!
If you train Muay Thai, your level change will rock. In Krav Maga, the level change is pretty much rare, every fight ends up after a maximum of 2-3 strikes. Thai combos are more entertaining to watch, but, unfortunately, less effective.
Let me wrap up the Muay Thai Vs Krav Maga comparison. Thai boxing is way more entertaining to watch, while Israeli martial art can save you from the most dangerous attackers in the street.
Muay Thai offers harder strikes and quicker combos, while Krav Maga is based on resolving the problem in the split of a second and defending yourself by any means necessary. If you want to master bully self-defense, the Israeli special-ops martial art is your pick for sure. But athletes who prefer competitive bouts will definitively enjoy Muay Thai more.
Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by Deni