Sambo was originally developed by the Soviet Union. This form of martial arts is presently recognized as both a specific style of wrestling and a combat sport.

Professionals in the martial arts community may describe it as a combination of multiple different disciplines, specifically those that have been listed below.

Conversely, Krav Maga was originally developed in Israel. Military forces in Israel are known for using this form of martial arts for at least two purposes, self-defense, and aggressive techniques.

Professionals in the martial arts community may also describe Krava Maga as a combination of different disciplines, including the following:

  • Aikido
  • Karate
  • Judo

Also, here are a few key things that you need to know about the main differences and similarities between these two martial art forms.

Differences Between Sambo and Krav Maga

Used in Different Military Countries for Combat

As referenced earlier, there are some important differences between these two specific martial art forms.

Though there are used in military combat, one of the primary distinctions is the countries of origin. For example, Russia‚Äôs military is known for using Sambo combat, while Israel’s military is known for using Krav Maga.

Dates of Popularity – Widespread – Initially a Decade a Part

When you check the history of both forms, you will most likely find that Sambo was used in the Soviet Red Army in the 1920s to help soldiers improve and master hand-to-hand combat abilities.

On the other hand, the Krav maga did not come widespread until the 1930s. It was during this time frame that this martial art took off as part of the country’s street fighting culture.

Self-Defense versus Aggressive Combat

Krav Maga’s principles are considered a lot more unique than other forms of martial arts. This is primarily because its principles and philosophies are centered more around physical over-aggression.

For instance, when the opponent is down and out of commission, it is still legal to continue to strike them in the most vulnerable parts of the body (i.e. the eye sockets, groin, and throat).

In essence, Kava Maga is considered to be one of the deadliest forms of martial arts presently in existence.

Unlike Krava Maga’s principles of martial arts and its overall focus, Sambo is a combination of both self-defense and aggression strategies.

Therefore, the fighter is not only taught to be aggressive with their opponent but they are also taught how to spend a significant amount of their time protecting themselves.

DifferenceSamboKrav Maga
OriginDeveloped in the Soviet Union as a military combat systemDeveloped in Israel as a self-defense system
FocusEmphasizes grappling and throwing techniquesEmphasizes striking and defensive techniques
TechniquesIncludes submissions, takedowns, and ground fightingIncludes punches, kicks, and strikes to vulnerable areas
PhilosophyStresses efficiency and control in grappling and submissionsStresses aggression and quick, decisive strikes
Competitive SportHas a competitive sport aspect with rules and regulationsDoes not have a competitive sport aspect
UniformPractitioners wear a jacket and shorts, similar to judoPractitioners typically wear casual clothing
Military ApplicationsTaught to military personnel for hand-to-hand combatTaught to military and law enforcement for self-defense and combat situations
Training MethodsEmphasizes partner drills and sparringEmphasizes realistic scenarios and stress training
International RecognitionRecognized as an Olympic sportNot recognized as an Olympic sport
PopularityMore popular in Eastern Europe and RussiaMore popular in Western countries
Cultural InfluencesInfluenced by judo, and wrestlingInfluenced by boxing, muay Thai, and wrestling

Similarities Between Sambo and Krav Maga

Just like there are differences in these martial art forms you will also see that there are some similarities between Sambo and Krav Mag, too.

One of the most noticeable is that little to no protective gear is required. For instance, to be successful in krav maga, protective gear is mostly limited to striking gloves.

Or, to be successful in Sambo combat, the fighter will only need rash guards and outside gear protection.

In either case, each opponent is not required to buy or suit up with expensive protective gear to engage in these combat fights.

Advice on What to Choose

If you are trying to make decisions about which martial art form may be best for you, you need to consider the following things.

Sambo is geared more toward learning to protect your body from harm and be very aggressive with your opponent.

Krav Mage has been created with severe damage and injury in mind. This means if you want to do real bodily harm to your opponent, you may want to learn severe aggressive techniques that will completely disable and destroy your opponent physically.

Buying protective gear can be expensive. Therefore, if you do not have a lot of upfront money to spend on getting started, you can choose either one to meet your needs and preferences.


One of the most important differences is that Krav Maga is more deadly in strategy than Sambo since it is the most aggressive.

Yet, both types are a combination of more than one martial arts form. Also, to get started, the newbie will not need a huge sum of money to buy protective gear.

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