Karate vs taekwondo- a classic debate. Most people probably think they’re the same thing, but there are differences that will determine which is better for you and your personal goals. We’ll settle the scores 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 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 puts an emphasis on kicking and uses hand combos as the backup. Taekwondo is also more diverse with the moves you can master, including 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 has been popularized by modern culture, while taekwondo has been practiced for thousands of years.
Karate, made famous by Mr. Miayagi in The Karate Kid, was first practiced 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.
The Japanese started fighting with their hands instead of weapons to protect themselves, 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 defending yourself with your whole body – it’s known as the art of the foot and hand.
Interestingly, when Japan overtook 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 sans weaponry. There’s a greater focus on mental strength and stamina because one of your only forms of protection when practicing is your mind. Karate students learn lots of hand techniques and combinations while keeping kicks on deck if needed.
Karate is perfect for when you’re close to an opponent and need that hand-to-hand combat advantage. Alternatively, taekwondo emphasizes the legs, chiefly because the leg is the longest and strongest weapon on the body. Kicks in taekwondo are very powerful for striking your opponent. Students of taekwondo learn spin kicks and a number of different kicking combinations while using hand techniques as a backup. Taekwondo is a good fit if your opponent is at a distance, because you can leverage 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 can really 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 Palm Harbor enjoy the rewards of hard work paying off 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 straightforward. 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 competitor 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 practical self defense that you can use to defend yourself against an attacker. And they’ll both teach you to persevere, respect yourself and others and gain confidence like never before. So which is better, karate or taekwondo? Well, 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 with our D3 Martial Arts staff here in Palm Harbor for yourself- you’ll LOVE it!