Taekwondo vs Karate – a classic debate. The majority of people assume they’re the same thing, but some differences 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 guide you in making your own decision on which is better for you!
The Difference Between Taekwondo vs Karate
The most basic difference between Taekwondo vs Karate 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 techniques primarily, and then kicking as a backup. Taekwondo is the exact opposite; it emphasizes kicking and uses hand combos as the backup. Taekwondo has more variety in the martial arts moves you can learn, including spinning and jumping kicks.
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, but has been popularized by modern culture, while taekwondo has been established for thousands of years. Karate, made famous by Mr. Miyagi 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 fighting with their hands instead of weapons to protect themselves, and karate was born, hand-to-hand fighting. So, is taekwondo better than karate?
Taekwondo goes back quite a bit further to 50 B.C.E. 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 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 banned taekwondo. Japanese renegades 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 sans weaponry. Karate emphasizes mental strength and stamina because one of your only forms of protection in a karate fight is your mind.
Karate students 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. 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 in taekwondo classes 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 utilize the length of your legs against them. Thus, is taekwondo the same as karate?
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 truly push 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 Phoenix 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. 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. It makes you question, is karate and taekwondo the same?
The judges in the competition 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. 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.
To be honest, karate or taekwondo will both get you super fit and in shape quickly. 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 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 classes with our South Mountain Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu staff here in Phoenix for yourself–you’ll love it!