Karate vs taekwondo- one of the longest-standing debates in martial arts. Lots of people think they’re the same, but there are some key 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 guide 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 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 techniques primarily, and then kicking as 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.
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 established for thousands of years. Even though Mr. Miyagi made karate famous in our pop culture, it actually has its roots in Japan. It started around 500 years ago to, legend has it, stop the use of weapons on the island of Okinawa in order to prevent war. Japanese warriors started using hand-to-hand combat to protect themselves 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 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 put a ban on 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 karate and taekwondo? It’s the difference between the two sides of your body- hands/arms and legs/feet. Karate means empty hands, referencing the fact that it’s a martial arts form relying heavily on the use of your hands without weapons of any kind. There’s a certain focus on stamina and mental strength because one of your only forms of protection in a karate fight is your mind. Students in karate classes 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. You’ll learn spin kicks and a number of different kicking combinations while using hand techniques if necessary. Taekwondo has more effectiveness at a distance, because you can use 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, 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 Levittown 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.
In a karate competition, you 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 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 very 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, 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 AmeriKick Martial Arts staff here in Levittown for yourself- you’ll LOVE it!