Deciding between Taekwondo and Krav Maga can be quite a daunting experience without knowing the difference between the two. Of course, both fighting styles have similarities, but one is a martial art, and the other is a combat system. But how do you figure out which style is better for you?

Krav Maga is better for those looking for day-to-day self-defense. Though it was initially used as an Israeli combat system and made for use in life and death scenarios, many people find it beneficial for exercise and self-defense needs. Taekwondo is more of a kicking-based form of martial arts. 

Krav Maga and Taekwondo are pretty different. This article will provide a deeper understanding  of Krav Maga vs Taekwondo by discussing their differences, effectiveness, and which one is the best option. 

Krav Maga vs Taekwondo Differences

There are several ways these combat systems are different, but there are also ways they are similar. For example, there are health benefits, self-defense skills, as well as confidence that accrue from training either one. 

When considering how the two differ, it can be hard to find a good place to start. Their history, techniques, philosophy, weapons, goals, and style are complex. 

That said, there’s one main difference between Krav Maga and Taekwondo.

Krav Maga Is About Aggression and Power

Krav Maga is a military combat system focused on neutralizing an opponent quickly with a philosophy of “all is permitted.” As a result, things like aggressiveness drills develop a person’s ability to express their offensive fully. 

That’s essential when it comes to overcoming real life-threatening situations. This importance is because hesitation when fighting might lead to fatalities in war-stricken zones.

Taekwondo Is Far Less Brutal

In contrast, there’s no air of urgency when it comes to Taekwondo like in Krav Maga. A layperson can learn the basics of self-defense fast through Krav Maga – a fast and brutal combat system. 

Instead, it helps people defend themselves on the street.

Taekwondo doesn’t have a goal in mind. It’s much more focused on step-by-step. The learning is much slower; this helps perfect individual techniques, similar to karate or jiu-jitsu. 

Krav Maga Explained

This fighting style is a military combat system developed after the second world war. The sole purpose was for exclusive use by the Israeli Defense Forces. 

Imre Lichtenfeld, a boxer and wrestler of Hungarian-Israeli descent, is credited as the founder of Krav Maga in 1948. 

As a child, he spent most of his years in Bratislava, Slovakia; that’s where the 1930s anti-semitic riots began. These dangers used to threaten Bratislavan Jews made Imre Lichtenfeld learn to defend himself since he was Jewish. 

He formed Krav Maga from all the knowledge he had gathered through sports and the arts he had trained. It was a means to defend oneself, fast and effectively. 

The main aim of Krav Maga is simple: one should neutralize their opponent as fast, safely, and efficiently as humanly possible. This principle explains why all the techniques used in traditional Krav Maga are brutal, aggressive, and quick. 

It’s incredibly ruthless, but it’s not surprising since Lichtenfeld had a challenging life experience. Nevertheless, as designed, learning Krav Maga can help ordinary people to be able to defend themselves properly. 

There are frequent strokes to the nose, throat, plexus, ears and weaker joints, groin-kicks, and eye-pokes. 

How Krav Maga Works 

Just like Taekwondo, Krav Maga has a set of principles and an approach used during training. The principles have evolved from years of front-line exposure to intense violence and aggression. 

Check out this video to see how a trainer teaches some basic self-defense techniques:

Combat Principles

  • Stop the immediate threat. The primary concern is to put a stop to a direct attack and prevent injury. It can mean prioritizing between two simultaneous threats.
  • Use immediate, aggressive counterattacks. Fast, aggressive strikes should be aimed at vulnerable areas as fast as possible by the kravist. The amount of time spent between defending and attacking should be as little as possible.
  • Disengage as soon as possible. Survival is the ultimate goal, not defeat; a kravist disengages as quickly as possible from the assailant. Exceptions include the need to protect a third party, remove a weapon, or make an arrest.
  • Scan for the next threat. There’s an emphasis placed on a kravist to scan the surrounding area. This awareness helps with reducing tunnel vision stress.

Training Principles

  • Simplicity. The techniques shouldn’t be complicated. They should be as simple as possible to learn quickly and retain over time. High-stress situations are easier to handle with simple techniques.
  • Use natural responses and reactions. Natural reflexes and reactions are used in Krav Maga when possible. It requires an intuitive approach, and it includes the use of gross motor movements.
  • Utility. When every attack requires a separate defense, different techniques have to be learned by the kravist. One defense is the foundation for fighting off as many possible attacks. It teaches a few methods that are adaptable and easily mastered.
  • No rules in survival. A kravist can use as many means as possible for their protection or protect a third party. Gouging, biting, or improvised weapons are all acceptable; the main goal is survival.

Taekwondo Explained

Taekwondo is a form of martial arts. However, it has no origin in war zones, nor was it meant to neutralize opponents. 

The aim of Taekwondo is primarily to develop an individual being to their peak physically and mentally. A big part of it is mental practice, meditation, and philosophy. Its history is also fascinating and around as short as that of Krav Maga. 

Martial arts schools known as Kwon S opened up all around South Korea after the second world war. These schools were generally of Chinese or Japanese martial arts backgrounds and taught different types and styles of self-defense. 

Later on, Choi Hong Hi created what’s popularly known today as Taekwondo. It came about due to physical education policies. The desire was to have a unified Korean martial art and military policies. 

Taekwondo came into existence as a new art that combined Korean, Japanese, and Chinese martial arts. It emphasizes kicking because arms can’t generate as much speed and power as legs do.

Military demonstrations and dojos opened the doors for worldwide success, and Taekwondo was now known all over. In addition, some elements of pop culture and Bruce Lee films played a significant role in popularizing Eastern martial arts. 

How Taekwondo Works

As mentioned earlier, Taekwondo emphasizes kicking. When competing, the padded fighters try to see who can land the most kicks. The legitimate targets are the head and body. 

All of the kicks get recorded electronically. Fighters kick to their opponent’s body protector while wearing unique sensor socks.

The kicks get recorded if executed with enough force, and every weight division calibrates it differently. 

Kicks to the head only get recorded when a fighter’s foot hits an opponent’s head guard or face. There’s no force required at all. This practice is in place due to safety reasons. 

Fighters can punch each other’s bodies but not the head. There are three rounds which both last two minutes each. There’s a “golden point” if there’s a tie at the end of the three rounds.

Check out this video to see some basic Taekwondo kicks in action:

You’ll see in this video how Taekwondo put so much focus on kicking, where Krav Maga uses kicks and pouches to subdue their opponents.

Rules of Taekwondo

This ancient martial art has some rules that might be a little confusing for white belt beginners. The following are some of the regulations for kup graders (a junior ranking) just starting. 

General Points and Rules

  • The goal in Taekwondo is to maximize the blows and kicks on an opponent’s allowed target area.
  • The whole contest area is a 10m (32.81ft) square mat.
  • There are three rounds in a contest, two minutes each, with a one-minute break between the rounds. 
  • Victory is recognized once an opponent is disqualified, knocked out, or by scoring the most points.

Scoring in Taekwondo

  • Each point gets scored through every legitimate strike on the body. 
  • Kicks on the face get rewarded with two points.
  • Kicks to the head and body earn points only when landed with parts of the foot.
  • Contests are overseen by a single referee and three judges. 
  • A point is only registered when two or more judges note a hit at the same time.

Lastly, punches to the body must be with the front of a clenched fist. The blow must land with the index and middle finger knuckles. If they’re to be awarded points, fighters aren’t allowed to punch the head. 

Penalties in Taekwondo

  • Offenses include holding, grabbing, feigning injury, pushing, and turning one’s back on an opponent. In Taekwondo, these actions cause penalties to the offending fighter.
  • The most severe violation is ‘Gam-jeom,’ and it leads to a one-point deduction. Examples of the offense include stepping over the boundary line deliberately or throwing an opponent. Pulling an opponent to the ground and using other parts to attack the face instead of feet are other violations.
  • If a competitor can’t regain his feet by the count of ten seconds, a knockout is the official ruling. Likewise, if a referee decides they’re unfit to continue after an eight-count, a knockdown becomes a knockout.
  • For contests ending with a tie, the winner is the contestant with the most points before any penalties get deducted. If the score is still the same, the more aggressive fighter wins the contest.

Olympic Competition Rules for Taekwondo

The Olympic Taekwondo competitions use an elimination tournament to decide the silver and gold medals.

After the initial tournament, two groups are drawn up of all the competitors apart from the semi-finalists. Another knockout process then produces two pool winners. 

Afterward, each pool winner competes with the semi-finalist from the other side. Finally, the two winners of the round will fight for the bronze medal.

Which Is Better for Self-Defense, Krav Maga or Taekwondo?

When it comes to real-life situations, it’s essential to learn which technique would work better. While Taekwondo is an excellent option, Krav Maga is much better for several reasons.

Krav Maga is better for self defense because it combines wrestling, boxing, and martial arts. Plus, it has an easy self-defense combat system. However, people criticize it because it insists on fast learning. Taekwondo can help with winning street fights if the opponent doesn’t know how to fight.

This is because it emphasizes kicking but also has grappling, throws, and strikes. If, for example, a fighter has an opponent who’s qualified in boxing, the challenge will be much more difficult. 

How To Choose Between Krav Maga and Taekwondo

Taekwondo is great if someone wants a martial art that gives excellent flexibility, confidence, and physical health. It’s ideal for both fighting and people who want to gain experience.

In contrast, Krav Maga will be highly effective for someone who lives in a dangerous area. It’s a great martial art to learn how to protect oneself or other people. Between the two, Krav Maga is the more practical martial art form.

Most of the time, the training involves learning how to neutralize opponents quickly and efficiently. It also consists of a lot of strength and endurance. 

If you’re thinking about starting either Krav Maga or Taekwondo, begin by looking at what classes are available near where you live. Then, check out the instructors, costs, and personal preferences.

For example, do you prefer large classes or something more intimate?

Final Thoughts

The style of martial art that’s best for you will depend on your current health and fitness level and what you’re ultimately hoping to get out of the classes. 

If you’re not in the best shape and just want something light to help you get moving, Taekwondo will be the best and most stress-free option. 

However, if you’re relatively active and are looking for a challenge, Krav Maga is sure to get your heart pumping.

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