Karate vs taekwondo- a classic debate. Most people probably think they’re the same thing, but there are differences that 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 guide you to make your own decision on which is better for you!
The Difference Between Karate and Taekwondo
The most basic difference in karate vs taekwondo is the difference between kicking and punching.
Think of the shuto uchi, or the famous “karate chop” you’ve seen in movies – karate uses hand combos primarily, and then kicking is more of an occasional thing.
Taekwondo is the exact opposite- it emphasizes kicking and uses hand moves as the backup.
Taekwondo has more diversity in combos as well, like 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.
Even though Mr. Miyagi made karate famous in our pop culture, it actually has its roots in Japan. It started around 500 years ago to, legend has it, stop the use of weapons on the island of Okinawa so that the king could prevent war.
Japanese soldiers 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 literally means defending yourself with your whole body – it’s known as the art of the foot and hand.
Fun fact, when Japan took over Korea in the 1900’s, the Japanese actually put a ban on taekwondo. Japanese rebels practiced the martial arts form in secret, and they’re the ones that kept taekwondo alive to this day.
Different Techniques Used
So what is the difference between karate and taekwondo? It’s the difference between the two halves 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 weapons of any kind.
Karate emphasizes mental strength and stamina, then, because one of your only forms of protection in a karate fight is your mind. You’ll learn lots of hand techniques and combinations while keeping kicks on deck if needed.
Karate is best for when you’re close to an opponent and need that hand-to-hand combat advantage. On the other hand, taekwondo emphasizes the legs, chiefly because the leg is the longest and strongest weapon on the body.
Kicks in taekwondo are very powerful for striking your opponent. You’ll learn spin kicks and a number of different kicking combinations while using hand techniques when necessary.
Taekwondo is a good fit if your opponent is at a distance because you can use the length of your legs against them.
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 can really push you to grow.
They both require serious mental and physical strength and stamina just like other martial arts classes, which is why hundreds of students in Arlington enjoy the rewards of hard work paying off 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 to the head, neck, face, chest, side, abdomen and back. The karate judges have a list of criteria that need to be followed in order 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.
In all honesty, karate or taekwondo will both get you super fit and in shape very quickly. They’ll both teach you self defense skills that you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones. And they’ll both teach you to persevere, 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 karate with our Cornerstone Martial Arts & Leadership Academy staff here in Arlington for yourself- you’ll LOVE it!