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

teens Karate Classes

Taekwondo vs Karate is one of the longest-standing debates in martial arts. The majority of people assume they’re the same thing, but there are some key differences that will determine which is better for you and your self-defense goals. We’ll settle the scores and go over the differences between karate and taekwondo to help you make your own decision on which is better for you!


The Difference Between Taekwondo vs Karate

Adult Karate ClassThe 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 movies; karate uses hand techniques primarily, and then kicking as a backup. Taekwondo is the exact opposite. It emphasizes kicking and uses martial arts techniques as the backup. Taekwondo is also more diverse with the moves you can master, including spinning and jumping kicks.


Origins of Taekwondo vs Karate

Taekwondo vs KarateWhen picking which self-defense you want to study, it can be helpful to consider the origin. Karate started later with modern culture making it pretty famous, while taekwondo has been established for thousands of years. Karate, made most popular by Mr. Miayagi in The Karate Kid, started 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 protecting themselves with their hands instead of weapons, and karate was born; hand-to-hand fighting. Taekwondo goes back quite a bit 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 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 renegades practiced the martial arts form in secret, and it’s because of them that we can even practice taekwondo today. It makes you question if 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 in a karate fight is your mind.

You’ll 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 weapon you have on your body.

Kicks in taekwondo 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 leverage the length of your legs against them. Now, do you still think 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, 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 so many in Green Brook enjoy the rewards of all their hard work being recognized at belt ranking and in competition.

There is a difference between Taekwondo vs Karate competition rules. Karate competition rules are a bit more complicated, while taekwondo rules are more straightforward. In a karate competition, you can strike 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, 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. Is karate and taekwondo the same? What do you think so far?

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 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 martial arts is the one you do. Doing nothing will result in nothing! So come and try martial arts with our USA Karate Academy staff here in Green Brook for yourself- you’ll love it!