Taekwondo vs Karate: Which Martial Arts Style is Better and Why

Adult Karate Class

Taekwondo vs Karate – one of the longest-standing debates in martial arts. Most people probably think they’re the same thing, but some differences will determine which is better for you and your personal goals. We’ll settle this classic debate and go over the differences between karate and taekwondo, to guide you in making your own decision on which is better for you!


The Difference Between Taekwondo vs Karate

Taekwondo vs KarateThe 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 every ninja movie; karate uses hand combos primarily, and then kicking is a backup. Taekwondo is the exact opposite, emphasizing kicking and using hand moves as the backup. Taekwondo is also more diverse with the moves you can master, including spinning and jumping kicks. These two are very different martial arts.


Origins of Taekwondo vs Karate

Adult Karate ClassWhen you think about which martial arts classes you want to take, 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 originated in Japan. It started around 500 years ago to, as legend has it, stop the use of weapons on the island of Okinawa so that the king could prevent war. Japanese soldiers 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.C.E. in Korea. It’s all in the name; “tae” means kick, “kwon” means punch, and “do” means, well, doing things. So taekwondo means practicing self-defense with your entire body, it’s known as the art of the foot and hand. Interestingly, when Japan took over Korea in the 1900’s, the Japanese declared taekwondo illegal. Japanese renegades practiced the martial arts form in secret, and it’s because of them that we can even practice taekwondo today. So, is taekwondo better than karate?


Different Techniques Used

Taekwondo vs KarateSo what is the difference between taekwondo vs karate? 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 when practicing 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.

Alternatively, taekwondo focuses on the legs, chiefly because the leg is the strongest weapon. Kicks in this martial art are very powerful for striking your opponent. Students in taekwondo classes learn spin kicks and several different kicking combinations while using hand techniques when necessary. Taekwondo has more effectiveness at a distance because you can utilize the length of your legs against your opponent. For this reason, is taekwondo the same as karate?


Competing in Taekwondo and Karate

Adult Karate ClassBoth karate and taekwondo are not only practical and effective martial arts forms, they provide opportunities for competition and advancement that encourage legitimate growth in their students. They both require serious mental and physical strength and stamina just like other martial arts classes, which is why hundreds of students in East Mesa 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 rules are a bit more complex, while taekwondo rules are straightforward.

In a karate competition, you can strike the head, neck, face, chest, side, abdomen, and back. The karate judges have a list of criteria that need to be followed 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. Thus, is karate and taekwondo the same?

Honestly, both of these martial arts styles will transform your body and get you fit fast. They’ll both teach you self-defense skills that you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones. 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, taekwondo vs karate? 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 adult Krav Maga with our East Mesa Karate staff for yourself–you’ll love it!