Karate vs taekwondo- a classic debate. Lots of people think they’re the same, but there are some key differences that will determine which is better for you and your martial arts goals. We’ll settle the scores and go over the differences between karate and taekwondo to empower 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 matter of kicks and punches.
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 more of an occasional thing.
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 modern culture made it pretty famous, while taekwondo has been established for thousands of years.
Karate, made famous by Mr. Miayagi in The Karate Kid, started 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 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 entire 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 prohibited taekwondo. Japanese rebels practiced the martial arts form in secret, and it’s because of them that we can even 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, a nod 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 in a karate fight in your mind.
You’ll learn lots of hand techniques and combinations while keeping kicks on deck as the last resort. Karate is best for when you’re close to an opponent and need that hand-to-hand combat advantage.
On the other hand, taekwondo focuses on the legs, chiefly because your leg is the strongest (and longest!) weapon you have on your body. Kicks in taekwondo are very powerful for striking your opponent.
Students of taekwondo 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 leverage 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, they provide opportunities for competition and advancement that will challenge you to grow.
They both require serious mental and physical strength and stamina just like other martial arts classes, which is why so many in Spring Branch & Westchase 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.
A karate student can strike to 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, however, is a bit simpler. 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.
To be honest, karate or taekwondo will both get you super fit and in shape really quickly. They’ll both teach you self defense skills that you can use to defend yourself against an attacker. 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? 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 Active Jiu Jitsu staff here in Spring Branch & Westchase for yourself- you’ll LOVE it!