Krav Maga vs Taekwondo vs Kung Fu | 3 fighting styles explained

by Joost | Last Updated: October 24, 2020

Who is the best fighter? Is it the one who has spent the most time in training?

The one who has the most skills in combat? Or the one who can adapt to the fighting style of his opponent and outsmart him?

These are very important questions as they will become relevant in the latter part of this discussion.

Let’s take a look at how three popular martial arts forms stack up to eachother: Krav Maga, Taekwondo and Kung Fu.

krav maga

Over the course of 4,000 years in human history, there are more than 400 martial arts techniques that have been developed and in various places all over the world.

Each martial arts reflect the culture from whence they came and often there were valid reasons for their creation.

About 85% of all martial arts techniques were created for armed and unarmed combat during wars, most of the ancient and known martial techniques come from Asia particularly in countries like China, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan and Korea, and the newer fighting styles are created for self-defense and sports.

Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, Judo, and Karate were actually used by the samurais in battle in feudal Japan, while Shaolin Monks have lent their incredible fighting skills to Li Shimin (personal name) who later became Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty in 621 AD in the war against Wang Shichong of a rival kingdom.

Now to emphasize on the Shaolin Monks fighting prowess, Emperor Taizong was an anti-Buddhist ruler. However, because he cannot deny how big of a help the Kung Fu Monks were during the war (this despite him having an army of over 100,000 strong), he gave lands and ordered Kung Fu monasteries built to honor them.

The real question is; why would you need a handful of Shaolin warriors who have rarely seen wars when you’ve got a very powerful army? Of course, the obvious answer would be because your soldiers were not enough to defeat the enemy.

And now to narrow down to our topic, which fighting style is more advantageous to you in case you needed to learn self-defense? Let us look into each of the martial arts techniques in question.

Kung Fu

The most effective of all known martial arts in the world perhaps belongs to the ancient Chinese kung fu monks. The Chinese consider any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete as kung fu; therefore one could argue that a person taking up his master’s or doctor’s degree in any field of study is learning kung fu – in a way different from fighting, but the effort and dedication cannot be distinguished.

shaolin kung fuThe Shaolin monastery trains children as young as 5 years old and by the time they reach 18 years old a kung fu monk whose specialty is martial arts (not all Shaolin monks specialize in fighting, but they are all trained to fight) will have learned all the 72 Shaolin secret arts and is a very efficient fighter.

In reality there are actually hundreds of Chinese martial arts or kung fu; however, only the 72 Shaolin secret styles are taught in their monasteries, which are also accepted as the best fighting styles in all of China. Here is a YouTube video that showcases a friendly match between a Shaolin Monk vs Taekwondo Master.

As you can see if the Shaolin monk decided to go serious with the fight, then the Taekwondo master is clearly not a match for his skills. Also, in case you’re wondering, it is forbidden for Shaolin monks to use martial arts for sports as their Buddhist beliefs go against self-gain and any other selfishness or vanity. Although they do perform martial arts exhibition every now and then in front of a crowd and cameras of the media.

The Shaolin monks are said to know the secrets of harnessing chi or Qi energy that is the actual invisible life force of all living things. Ancient writings tells of an egg-shaped shell that surrounds the body and is made of pure energy that is yet to be detected by our modern machines (some refer to it as the aura). It is believed that they were able to discover this energy from the teachings of the Rigveda, particularly the Chakra points on the body (which are supposedly energy centers), and somehow were able to harness and use it for various purposes including healing, enhancing their martial arts skills and even use it as an offensive or defensive weapon.

You may think that this is a joke or a farce, but if I could just direct your attention to the Extreme Kung Fu Championship exhibition, then you might have second thoughts and consider what I’m saying about this “energy” that the Shaolin monks know so well.

Some of the participants are able to bend half an inch thick steel bars while others are able to break it like brittle twigs with their bare hands. What’s even more puzzling is that they do not have the body to show for it! It’s utterly incredible how they were able to do what they did in this video.

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Krav Maga

On the other hand, Krav Maga is very different from Kung Fu, from its principles, belief systems and fighting styles it is a martial arts technique in its own class. Most KM experts actually refer to it as part of man’s evolved survival instincts rather than a martial arts for self-defense. Being the IDF’s (Israel Defense Forces) primary self-defense Krav Maga clearly was created out of necessity. During the legendary Six Day War in 1967 the Israelis were not only unfamiliar with the terrain of Palestine, but were also outnumbered and outgunned.

At times their ground reconnaissance troops encountered resistance during their missions as they ventured behind enemy lines and Krav Maga has been proven useful in all of those times as the men who were sent to spy on their enemies somehow managed to come back alive most of the time.

Read more on the equipment you’ll need to get started.

The core principle of Krav Maga is to ensure self-preservation and let yourself walk out of every fight unharmed as much as possible. This YouTube video Lightning Fast Real Life Disarm Caught on Camera where a cop successfully disarms a man with a large knife who was threatening to stab people is a real-life example of Krav Maga in action:

 

 

Krav Maga demonstration

It may look like a Jiu-Jitsu or Aikido technique, but given it is a video that was uploaded in 2016 and almost every law enforcement agency in the world is now using Krav Maga as their core self-defense, it is without a doubt a KM tactic. According to the narrator in the video, the police officer was able to apply the 5 D’s of martial arts when he executed the knife disarm technique.

The 5 D’s of martial arts are:

  1. Decide – it consists of planning, education, acceptance, training, conditioning, avoidance, and strategy before engaging your target.
  2. Deter – this happens after you’ve made a decision to engage the target and have placed yourself at risk.
  3. Disrupt – is when you physically engage the target, execute the martial arts technique required to disarm him and then overpower and dominate him until he has been restrained and could no longer cause any more harm or is rendered unconscious by your attack.
  4. Disengage – is when you stop attacking the target, restrained him and you’ll call the police to take the suspect in.
  5. Debrief – is when you take into consideration regarding your violent actions against the target. You may feel guilty for hurting him, or maybe you’ve accidentally or purposely killed the target as he gave you no choice during your encounter and you’re now suffering emotional and mental stress as a result. You need to talk to a professional psychiatrist as well as your family and friends to help you carry the burden of your actions, but most importantly you must also remember that you chose to live and not be killed by your target. You defended yourself and protected other people who might have been the victims of that man had you not stepped in to stop him, and that was the right thing to do.

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Taekwondo

Taekwondo is a derivative of several forms of martial arts including karate, Chinese martial arts, and indigenous Korean martial arts traditions such as Taekkyeon, Subak, and Gwonbeop. While other martial arts techniques almost always focus on the defensive style of fighting, only Taekwondo uses the opposite principle and often initiates the fight with all offensive moves. This Korean fighting style utilizes both legs when attacking the opponent most of the time. It emphasizes fast kicking techniques, jumping and spinning kicks, and high kicks to the head – particularly the left or right temple in order to weaken the opponent’s nervous system.

Check out this video on YouTube of the World’s Best Taekwondo Skills showcasing their impressive lighting fast kicking skills. A powerful kick even to the body such as demonstrated in this video could injure soft tissues, muscles and even break bones, so it would not be wise to take a Taekwondo black belt so lightly:

 

 

Still, it may prove to be difficult to fight an opponent who doesn’t risk the vulnerable parts of their body just to hope they’ll get a clean shot at their opponent. If you’ll notice how the kung fu fighter fights and how they seemingly dance in fluid motions deflecting their enemy’s attacks only to find an opportunity to strike back later is just mind-blowing.

Taekwondo athletesThey neither lose their strength, speed or stamina during the fight as they have conditioned their bodies to last longer in a fight than any other fighter. Whereas the Taekwondo fighter will most likely lose a lot of his strength, speed, and stamina as the fight gets longer and longer.

Also, those kung fu fights you see on TV were fights versus an equally skilled opponent, which is why it took longer to defeat them, but if a kung fu monk fights an average skilled fighter – no matter which martial arts he comes from – the fight might end sooner than expected. So while the Taekwondo fighter might get the best of the Krav Maga fighter, both of them are no match for the Shaolin monk as he knows 72 fighting styles (some are very lethal that they were kept a secret) and the other fighters only knows one.

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