Karate vs taekwondo- one of the longest-standing debates in martial arts. Lots of people think they’re the same, but there are differences that will determine which is better for you and your self defense goals. We’ll settle this classic debate 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 techniques primarily, and then kicking is more of an occasional thing. Taekwondo is the exact opposite- it puts an emphasis on kicking and uses hand combos as the backup. Taekwondo has more diversity in combos as well, like spinning and jumping kicks.
Origins of Karate and Taekwondo
When you think about which martial arts classes you want to take, it can be helpful to consider the origin. Karate started later but modern culture made it pretty famous, while taekwondo has been around for thousands of years. Even though Mr. Miyagi made karate famous in our pop culture, it actually originated in Japan. It started around 500 years ago to, as the story goes, stop the use of weapons on the island of Okinawa in order to 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 entire body – it’s known as the art of the foot and hand. Interestingly, when Japan took over Korea in the 1900’s, the Japanese actually declared taekwondo totally illegal. 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 halves 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 greater focus on mental strength and stamina 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 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 the leg is the longest and strongest weapon on the body. Kicks in this martial art are very powerful for striking your opponent. Students of taekwondo learn spin kicks and a number of different kicking combinations while using hand techniques if necessary. Taekwondo is best 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, 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 Middletown 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. 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 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 defend yourself against an attacker. And they’ll both push you to achieve your goals and accomplish things you never thought you could do. 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 for beginners with our Budokai Academy of Martial Arts staff here in Middletown for yourself- you’ll LOVE it!