Karate vs taekwondo- which do you choose? The majority of people assume 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 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 between your hands and your feet- punching vs kicking. Think of the shuto uchi, or the famous “karate chop” you’ve seen in movies – karate uses hand techniques primarily, and then kicking is a backup. Taekwondo is the exact opposite- it puts an emphasis on kicking and uses hand moves 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 became a pop culture phenomenon, while taekwondo has been around for thousands of years. Karate, made most popular 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. Japanese soldiers 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 defending yourself 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 declared taekwondo totally illegal. Japanese rebels practiced the martial arts form in secret, and they’re they ones that kept taekwondo alive to this day.
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. There’s a greater focus on mental strength and stamina 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 emphasizes the legs, chiefly because the leg is the longest and strongest weapon on the 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 is best if your opponent is at a distance, because you can use 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 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 Kingsport enjoy the rewards of hard work paying off 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.
A karate student 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 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 can both get you super fit and in shape really quickly. 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 keep going no matter what, respect yourself and others and gain confidence like never before. So which is better, karate or taekwondo? Honestly, 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 Bushido Academy staff here in Kingsport for yourself- you’ll LOVE it!