Krav Maga, a product of the Israeli military, is widely considered a highly effective form of self-defense against someone carrying a weapon. It was, after all, created with hand-to-hand combat in mind. It is not, however, without its shortcomings. A martial arts student who only works on krav maga could find himself at a disadvantage in nonmilitary situations.
Many martial arts students don't fit the physical profile of the typical, extremely fit, adult soldier Israeli defense expert Boaz Aviram says civilians don't get the level of instruction in krav maga that a soldier does. It's also based on a military mindset, which is generally lacking in sports and fitness practitioners.
Many traditional martial arts systems place a great deal of emphasis on integrating the body's energy, or chi, with the physical side. They are promoted as an entire way of life and philosophy. Krav maga, in contrast, is mainly concerned with physically taking down a foe. Joseph Isaac Lifshitz points out in "Jewish Ideas Daily" that krav maga lacks meaning and attachment to the spiritual he has found in other martial arts.
Ernie Kirk, president of Krav Maga Universal, says krav maga is primarily a stand-up system. There's no real emphasis on ground fighting, which can be necessary in a real confrontration. Craig Gray of Ronin Martial Arts Academy points out that gun and knife training need to be added to the basic krav maga curriculum. Marc MacYoung, a martial arts and self defense expert, adds that krav maga focuses so much on speed and intensity that it loses points on power and precision. While speed and intensity are important, they're not very effective against opponents who can deliver more powerful strikes to precise, intentional targets.
Krav maga lacks a unified organizing body to set standards and guidelines. According to MacYoung, krav maga teachers don't get equal levels of training, and some may have little practical experience with the system. MacYoung also contends that it may be difficult to justify the use of a combat system designed to kill for general self defense purposes.