Karate vs taekwondo- one of the longest-standing debates in martial arts. Most people probably think they’re the same thing, but some differences will determine which is better for you and your martial arts goals. We’ll settle the debate and go over the differences between karate and taekwondo to help you to make your own decision on which is better for you!
The Difference Between Karate and Taekwondo
The most basic difference between karate and taekwondo is the matter of kicks and punches. Think of the shuto uchi, or the famous “karate chop” you’ve seen in movies – karate uses hand combos primarily, and then kicking as a backup.
Taekwondo is the exact opposite- it emphasizes kicking and uses hand combos as the backup. Taekwondo has more variety in the moves you can learn, including spinning and jumping kicks.
Origins of Karate and Taekwondo
When you’re thinking about which one you want to study, it can be helpful to consider the origin. Karate started later but became a pop culture phenomenon, while taekwondo has been practiced for thousands of years. Karate, made famous by Mr. Miayagi in The Karate Kid, originated in Japan.
It started around 500 years ago to, as the story goes, stop the use of weapons on the island of Okinawa so that the king could prevent war. The Japanese started fighting with their hands instead of weapons to protect themselves, and karate was born- hand-to-hand fighting. Taekwondo goes back quite a bit further to 50 B.CE. in Korea. It’s all in the name- tae means kick, Kwon means punch, and do means, well, doing things. So taekwondo means practicing self-defense with your whole body – it’s known as the art of the foot and hand.
Fun fact, when Japan overtook Korea in the 1900s, the Japanese banned taekwondo. Japanese rebels practiced the martial arts form in secret, and it’s thanks to them that we can still practice taekwondo today.
Different Techniques Used
So what is the difference between karate and taekwondo? It’s the difference between the two sides of your body- hands/arms and legs/feet. Karate means empty hands, pointing to the fact that it’s a martial arts form relying heavily on the use of your hands without any weapons. There’s a certain focus on stamina and mental strength because one of your only forms of protection when practicing is your mind. Karate students learn lots of hand techniques and combinations while keeping kicks on deck as a last resort.
Karate is best for when you’re close to an opponent and need that hand-to-hand combat advantage. Alternatively, taekwondo emphasizes the legs, chiefly because the leg is the strongest weapon. Kicks in taekwondo are very powerful for striking your opponent. Students in taekwondo classes learn spin kicks and several different kicking combinations while using hand techniques as a backup. Taekwondo has more effectiveness at a distance because you can use the length of your legs against your opponent.
Competing in Taekwondo and Karate
Both karate and taekwondo are not only practical and effective martial arts forms, but they also provide opportunities for competition and advancement that encourage legitimate growth in their students. They both require serious mental and physical strength and stamina just like other martial arts classes, which is why so many in Honolulu enjoy the rewards of all their hard work being recognized at belt ranking and in competition. There is a difference between taekwondo and karate competition rules. The rules of karate are a bit more involved, while the rules of taekwondo are more simple.
In a karate competition, you can strike the head, neck, face, chest, side, abdomen, and back. The karate judges have a list of criteria that need to be followed for the match to be considered a win, like good form, accurate distance, and good timing. Taekwondo competitions are more to-the-point. In a taekwondo competition, a student gets 3 points for a kick to the head, 2 points for a spinning kick to the opponent’s torso, and one point for a basic attack on their torso.
So honestly, both of these martial arts styles will transform your body and get you fit fast. They’ll both teach you practical self-defense that you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones. And they’ll both teach you to keep going no matter what, respect yourself and others, and gain confidence like never before. So which is better, karate or taekwondo? Honestly, the best one for self-defense is the one you take the initiative to do. Doing nothing will result in nothing! So come and try martial arts with our K-Team Jiu Jitsu staff here in Honolulu for yourself- you’ll love it! Free Trial Here!