Taekwondo vs Karate – one of the longest-standing debates in martial arts. A lot of people probably think they’re the same thing, but some differences will determine which is better for you and your self-defense goals. We’ll settle the scores 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 Taekwondo vs Karate
The most basic difference in Taekwondo vs Karate is between your hands and your feet (punching vs kicking). 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 emphasizes kicking and uses hand techniques as the backup. Taekwondo has more variety in the moves you can learn, including spinning and jumping kicks. It makes you wonder–is taekwondo better than karate?
Origins of Taekwondo vs Karate
When you’re thinking about which one you want to study, it can be helpful to consider the origin. Karate started later and became a pop culture phenomenon, while taekwondo has been around 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 legend has it, stop the use of weapons on the island of Okinawa to prevent war.
The Japanese started protecting themselves with their hands instead of weapons, and karate/hand-to-hand fighting was born. 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 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 1900s, the Japanese 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 Taekwondo vs Karate? 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 as weaponry.
Karate emphasizes 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 best 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 strongest weapon. Kicks in this martial art are very powerful for striking your opponent. Students of taekwondo learn spin kicks and several different kicking combinations, while using hand techniques when necessary. Taekwondo is best if your opponent is at a distance because you can use the length of your legs against them. Do you still find yourself asking the question: is taekwondo the same as karate?
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 can push you to grow.
They both require serious mental and physical strength and stamina, just like other martial arts classes. This is why hundreds of students in Mountain View enjoy the rewards of hard work 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 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. It’s only natural to think: is karate and taekwondo the same?
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.
In all honesty, karate or taekwondo can both get you super fit and in shape quickly. They’ll both teach you practical self-defense that you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones.
And they’ll both push you to achieve your goals and accomplish things you never thought you could do. So which is better, Taekwondo vs Karate? 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 Gold Medal Martial Arts staff here in Mountain View for yourself- you’ll love it!