Karate vs taekwondo- a classic debate. A lot of people probably think they’re the same thing, but there are some key differences that will determine which is better for you and your personal 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 every ninja movie – karate uses hand combos primarily, and then kicking is a backup.
Taekwondo is the exact opposite- it puts an emphasis on kicking and uses hand techniques 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 has been popularized by modern culture, while taekwondo has been around for thousands of years. Karate, made most popular by Mr. Miayagi in The Karate Kid, started 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.
Japanese warriors started protecting themselves with their hands instead of weapons, and karate was born- hand-to-hand fighting. Taekwondo goes back even 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 practicing self-defense with your whole body – it’s known as the art of the foot and hand. Fun fact, when Japan took over Korea in the 1900s, the Japanese actually declared taekwondo totally illegal. Japanese renegades 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 sides of your body- hands/arms and legs/feet. Karate means empty hands, referencing 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 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 a good fit for when you’re close to an opponent and need that hand-to-hand combat advantage. Alternatively, taekwondo focuses on the legs, chiefly because your leg is the strongest (and longest!) weapon you have on your body.
Kicks in this martial art 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 has more effectiveness at a distance because you can utilize 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 serious growth in their students. They both require serious mental and physical strength and stamina just like other martial arts classes, which is why hundreds of students in Monrovia enjoy the rewards of hard work paying off at belt ranking and in competition. There is a difference between taekwondo and karate competition rules.
Karate competition rules are a bit more complicated, while taekwondo rules are more straightforward. In a karate competition, you can strike the head, neck, face, chest, side, abdomen, and back. The judges in the competition 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. A taekwondo martial artist 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 self-defense skills that you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones. And they’ll both push you to achieve a ton and accomplish things you never thought you could do. So which is better, karate or taekwondo? We’ll show you in class, as the better one for self-defense is the one you do. Doing nothing will result in nothing! So come and try martial arts with our Kaizen Martial Arts staff here in Monrovia for yourself- you’ll love it!