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The difference between Combat Sambo and Krav Maga

Krav Maga is another popular martial art that people often come and ask me if it has any similarities with Combat Sambo.
Krav Maga meaning “combat contact”, in Hebrew, is a combat system that is said to used by the Israeli military. It has become very popular and is taught around the world with different Krav Maga organizations.

Krav Maga-Isreali military system

Krav Maga-Isreali military system

Both Combat Sambo and Krav Maga are systems used by the military and police, the former used by ex-USSR republics and the latter by Israel.
Within Combat Sambo there are generally 3 ‘types’ within this system. Sport Combat Sambo (ie.MMA with a jacket), street Combat Sambo (reality self-defense suited for civilians) and military Combat Sambo.
Generally in the majority of Combat Sambo gyms (like Club Kozak) teach the sport and self-defense versions. The military version has added techniques of weapons fighting eg. Knife, bayonet etc… These are considered more “lethal” and not really suited for the general public, in my view. That is where the marketing comes in.
It is of course a great sales point, to attract practitioners by mentioning “this combat system is used by so & so country’s military forces!” People seem to be attracted to these combat systems that are military based. They assume that it will completely useful for the streets. Unarmed hand to hand combat is the last thing a soldier will resort too. More time is spent on armed training (ie. Guns) as in an armed conflict, it is killed or be killed. In a civilian life, this “kill or be killed” can have tremendous legalities if not deemed absolutely necessary in certain self-defense situations.

Most Krav Maga schools (some do though) don’t do freestyle sparring, rather they go thru set drills of certain situations. Combat Sambo, is heavily based on freestyle sparring. Not using sparring holds back the real development of progress in the martial arts and even in self-defense. One has to use real pressure training to get better. This has been discussed in this article. Furthermore, just doing set drills, one can become in auto-pilot mode, and never learn to adapt.

Krav-Maga-London

Krav Maga knife defense

Krav Maga, unlike Combat Sambo, uses a belt system , resembling the Japanese colored belt ranking system. This seems strange, as this is to be a military system . Using belts is a great selling point for new students as people want a set goal. Using a belt system has its pros and cons,it all depends on one’s point of view.

Belt system

Belt system

Since Krav Maga is a considered purely a self-defense system it doesn’t work much on ground grappling techniques. Many reality based fighting systems state that going to the ground or ground fighting will get you killed in a real fight. This is also the philosophy of Combat Sambo which is in a real self-defense situation, one does not want to stay on the ground to long.However, if one’s training consists of more ground fighting techniques, escapes from the bottom and getting the top position will become easier to perform, especially if involved in a street self-defense situation.
Just like many other reality based combat systems, Krav Maga does not train with a jacket(gi/kurtka) , but rather with a t-shirt. As most people would say that we don’t wear a gi/kurtka on the street,but as my article mentions, training with a jacket is more practical for realistic street self-defense training, especially in a cold climate country (such as Canada).

As I have never trained in Krav Maga, I cannot give a personal opinion on it. This article was to give some differences that I have gotten from talking with those who trained in the style of Krav Maga or from personal analysis. Like everything in life, the only way to get the best view on something is to try it out, and experience it.

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2 Responses to “The difference between Combat Sambo and Krav Maga”

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