Karate vs taekwondo- a classic debate. The majority of people assume they’re the same thing, but there are a few differences that will determine which is better for you and your personal goals. We’ll settle the debate and go over the differences between karate and taekwondo to help 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 every ninja movie – karate uses hand combos primarily, and then kicking as a backup. Taekwondo is the exact opposite- it emphasizes kicking and uses hand techniques 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’re thinking about which one you want to study, it can be helpful to consider the origin. Karate started later but became a pop culture phenomenon, while taekwondo has been practiced 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 the story goes, stop the use of weapons on the island of Okinawa in order to prevent war.
The Japanese started using hand-to-hand combat to protect themselves instead of weapons, 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 practicing self defense 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 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 halves of your body- hands/arms and legs/feet. Karate means empty hands, pointing 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, then, 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 as a last resort. It’s perfect for when you’re close to an opponent and need that hand-to-hand combat advantage. On the other hand, taekwondo emphasizes 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 has more effectiveness at a distance, because you can leverage the length of your legs against your opponent.
Competing in Taekwondo and Karate
The karate and taekwondo similar are not only practical and effective martial arts forms, they 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 hundreds of students in Heathmont 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 rules are a bit more complicated, while taekwondo rules are more 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.
In all honesty, 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 defend yourself against an attacker. And they’ll both teach you to keep going no matter what, 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 Ultimate Martial Arts staff here in Heathmont for yourself- you’ll LOVE it!