Like most other forms of martial arts, Krav Maga is a fighting discipline that has been around for quite some time. It is so widely practiced worldwide that you might be wondering if many of its components have found their way into MMA. This is an important question to answer because a system of rules and protocols governs MMA fights.

Since much of Krav Maga involves moves that many consider to be dirty, MMA has long ago had to deal with this topic. While there are some elements of the discipline that can be used in MMA, the vast majority of the moves that form the foundation of Krav Maga are actually not permitted within the realm of MMA. Because of this, most MMA fighters do not use Krav Maga at all.

3 Reasons Krav Maga Is Not Used in MMA

While there are quite a few reasons why Krav Maga is not used in MMA, some are more frequently cited than others. This is because the approach to each fighting art is different. Whereas Krav Maga will train you to prepare to defend yourself in virtually any situation, MMA is a more disciplined sport that leaves such defenses outside the cage.

While MMA uses multiple fighting disciplines, Krav Maga is not generally regarded to be among them. The disciplined and rules-oriented approach to MMA does not work well with Krav for several reasons. To get started with this topic, the following three areas will highlight why Krav Maga is not usually used.

Many Krav Maga Moves Are Banned in MMA

Krav Maga is meant to be an instinctive type of fighting. As such, all parts of the body can be used in your effort to subdue your opponent. While many might mistakenly believe that MMA allows such a mentality as well, that is far from the truth. There are strict rules governing the use of certain parts of the body, including limiting hits on various parts of the body.

With Krav Maga, the following moves are regularly taught and practiced, yet they are not permitted in MMA.

  • Using knees to strike the groin – While knees are viewed as a powerful fighting weapon in MMA, the groin area is off limits. However, Krav Maga fighters are taught to go for the groin whenever possible to bring their opponent to submission. The two philosophies simply do not mix.
  • Manipulating the joints of an opponent – MMA fighters will work hard to bring their opponent to submission, but they cannot bend fingers and knuckles in order to do so. Krav Maga embraces the practice and regularly teaches it.
  • Purposefully headbutting an opponent – This is an extremely dangerous move that can incapacitate an opponent. For that reason alone, it is not allowed in MMA, which is why Krav Maga is frowned upon in this discipline.
  • Training with weapons – It goes without saying that there are no weapons allowed in MMA, so this part of Krav Maga would not be very useful either. Krav Maga fighters will either bring weapons with them to the big event or use something near them as the fight begins. MMA does not allow for this.
  • Gouging an opponent’s eyes – Because Krav Maga is used more for self-defense and gaining complete control over the opponent as quickly as possible, fighters are taught to use eye gauging when the opportunity presents itself. This is grounds for immediate disqualification in MMA.

These are just five of probably several dozen moves in Krav Maga that are not allowed in MMA. If one practiced Krav Maga on a regular basis, it would be extremely difficult to stay away from these moves.

They simply become too instinctive to ignore, meaning that a Krav Maga fighter would likely get disqualified rather quickly when in an MMA cage fight.

Krav Maga Employs More of a Street Fighter Approach

While it is difficult to watch a Krav Maga fight in progress since it is not really a sanctioned sport, we have first-hand accounts from actual fighters to go by. Krav Maga is basically a street fight. As such, the only rule is really that there are no rules. While we should not go so far as to say it is a fight to the death, it is certainly a fight to complete submission as quickly as possible.

The approach to Krav Maga is to weaken the opponent by any means possible. This means that any part of the body or available object in the vicinity of the fight is fair game. You will not find any such mentality in MMA. While various parts of the body can be used in the fight, there is a disciplined approach to the fight that must be followed throughout its duration.

Krav Maga is Centered More on Survival and Inflicting Pain

Since the key to Krav Maga is to be still standing when the fight is finally declared to be over, the emphasis is more on survival than anything else. To be the last person standing, it is important to inflict as much pain as possible. This is not necessarily the goal of MMA.

In MMA, the goal is more of submission. If that can be achieved without inflicting much pain, then all the better. MMA fighters are not necessarily trained to inflict pain on their opponents. While that might happen, it is not the goal. This is a different philosophy altogether from Krav Maga’s and is yet another reason you will not find Krav Maga fighters excelling in MMA.


To be effective at MMA, it is important to know the limitations that exist when stepping into the cage. There are simply too many components of Krav Maga that are not allowed in the MMA, so diving too deep into this martial art might not be in your best interest if you are an MMA fighter. While Krav Maga has its place, it is not typically within the sport of MMA.