Taekwondo vs Karate- one of the longest-standing debates in martial arts. A lot of people probably think they’re the same thing, but there are differences that 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 Karate and Taekwondo
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 movies – 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 diversity in combos as well, like spinning and jumping kicks.
Origins of Karate and Taekwondo
When picking which self-defense 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 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. The Japanese started protecting themselves with their hands instead of weapons, and karate was born- hand-to-hand fighting.
Taekwondo goes back quite a bit further to 50 B.CE. in Korea. It’s all in the name- tae means kick, kwon means to punch, and do means, well, doing things. So Are karate and taekwondo the same? literally means practicing self-defense with your entire body – it’s known as the art of the foot and hand. Fun fact, when Japan overtook Korea in the 1900s, the Japanese actually declared taekwondo totally illegal. 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 weapons of any kind.
Karate emphasizes mental strength and stamina, then, 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 as a last resort. It’s 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 this martial art are very powerful for striking your opponent. Students in taekwondo classes learn spin kicks and a number of different kicking combinations while using hand techniques when necessary. Taekwondo is perfect if your opponent is at a distance because you can utilize 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, but they also 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 hundreds of students in Tacoma 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. A karate student can strike the head, neck, face, chest, side, abdomen, and back. The karate judges 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 the practical self-defense 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 is Taekwondo better than 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 Barner’s Blue Dragons staff here in Tacoma for yourself- you’ll LOVE it!