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Globalization has ushered in a slew of unanticipated changes in our daily lives. The range of martial arts practiced in Asia and the rest of the Eastern world is one of the most memorable aspects of Asia, as well as the rest of the Eastern world for Europeans. Karate is perhaps the most well-known of them all; it’s rare to meet someone who hasn’t heard of it. Taekwondo is another Eastern martial art that has been more popular in recent decades, owing it to its spectacular kicks.

Martial arts, such as karate and taekwondo are popular and frequently practiced. They’re so popular that they’re now both Olympic sports, with specific Olympic rules. Taekwondo was added in 2000, and karate will feature at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Beginners in both karate and taekwondo learn fundamental rules and fundamental movements and other basic techniques. These are the building blocks for learning more complex and advanced techniques. You’ll learn several “stances” and ways to punch, breathing techniques, joint locks, body strength, body protection, jumping kick, roundhouse kick, effective strikes (such as elbow strikes, arm strikes, and knee strike), spinning kick, and block an opponent in each martial art genre.

These will be done slowly, with each move being held to ensure proper form. It’s crucial to understand that in both karate and taekwondo, staying in a stance for a longer amount of time will not assist the martial artist win a fight. The postures and martial art style are intended to be used as a tool for training. To be effective, fight moves, in any martial art form, must flow fast from one to the next. While there are some similarities between the two styles, they also have distinct differences. But, first, let’s look at the history of karate and taekwondo, as well as similarities between the two styles.

History of Taekwondo

Taekwondo has ancient roots, too. The earliest records of people practicing this hand-to-hand combat method date all the way back to 50 B.C.E. in Korea. “Tae” means to kick, “Kwon” means to punch or destroy with the hand, and “do” means a way of doing something. So, taekwondo is a way of using your whole body in order to defend yourself.

The Japanese banned Korean military arts, including the taekwondo competition when they conquered Korea in the early 1900s. Some people continued to train in secret traditional schools, taking martial arts classes, while others went to China or Japan to acquire martial arts. Taekwondo developed into many styles with different inspirations after judo, karate, and Kung-Fu were all imported to Korea–each fighting style having its own uniqueness. When the Japanese occupation ended in 1945, the first taekwondo school in Korea, known as Kwan, opened.

Taekwondo, as we know it today, began in 1955, when Kwan masters gathered for a martial arts seminar. They decided to combine their various teaching taekwondo styles into a more unified system, which they named taekwondo. The World Taekwondo Federation establishes competitive rules, as well as new innovations in the discipline. It is used by individuals all around the world.

History of Karate

On the Japanese island of Okinawa, the first version of karate was developed roughly 500 years ago. Despite the lack of recorded evidence, many people believe karate was born when King Shoha, the island’s ruler at the time, prohibited weapons to avert war. To defend themselves, people began to engage in hand-to-hand combat. Because the two cultures were exposed to each other, karate contains both Japanese and Chinese characteristics. Funakoshi Gichin, the first recognized Okinawan karate instructor, was born in 1868 and dedicated his entire life to disseminating karate principles throughout Japan.

In 1949, his followers continued where he left off, forming the Japan Karate Association to promote the martial arts discipline and martial art style. In 1945, the first dojo (karate training facility) opened in the United States. Karate spread over the world over time, and diverse martial arts styles began to emerge. As a martial art, karate is continually growing. There are a few other styles that have developed that are still classified as karate. The World Karate Federation is a non-profit organization that promotes and establishes standardized criteria for participating at a professional level and practicing the sport. Today, the most common and distinct styles are:

Gōju-ryū

Shitō-ryū

Shotokan

Wadō-ryū

 Similarities Between Taekwondo and Karate

Though they have a lot in common, these two popular martial art forms have a lot in common. Apart from the fact that they are both from the same continent, they have little in common in terms of history, but they do have a lot in common in terms of basic notions. When it comes to learning the fundamentals of either sport, the principles are very similar. The positions, underlying concept, uniform and structure of the associations, and training are all very similar.

Both martial arts use the well-known belt grading system, with white belts for beginners and black belts for masters. The tests are likewise constructed similarly, even though the topics of the exams are clearly different. These two styles have the same skeleton. A Taekwondo school can be very similar to a Shotokan Karate-do school, with the exception that the combat technique will be completely different.

Both forms of martial arts are beneficial physically and mentally and can improve coordination, balance, discipline, among other things. If you’re trying to decide what’s best for your child, it is important to look past technique and into the establishment providing the education that will change your child’s life.

But what are the differences between them?

Karate vs. Taekwondo: What’s The Difference?

The main difference between Karate and Taekwondo is that Karate places much more emphasis on using the hands, while Taekwondo is primarily a kicking art. Even though they might seem similar, the actual fighting style is very different.

And although they both originated from Asia and both karate and Taekwondo practitioners wear similar outfits on training, there is not much that is similar between the two styles of fighting. The word karate is usually translated to “empty hand,” though other translations, such as , Chinese hand” or “Tang dynasty hand” can be found as well, one thing is clear: all translations contain the word “hand.”

The reason for that is the fact that Karate is a martial art based mostly around the use of the hands. As mentioned before, Taekwondo almost completely neglects the hand, which makes for the biggest distinction between the two martial art styles. The two styles seem to be a reverse of one another: Karate uses hand attacks, but uses kicks as a backup, while Taekwondo uses kicks for attacking and hands for backup.

In terms of exercise, both can provide one with great athleticism, but Taekwondo might have an edge here since all the kicking and jumping make it somewhat of a better workout. Karate is more rigid and linear, there are usually more breathing techniques involved and fewer large movements. It must be noted though, that Karate has large movements compared to other styles, but it is not much compared to Taekwondo with its spinning jump kicks.

Further, we’ll discuss the differences under the following headings:

Stances

The first difference is the stance. The Karate stance is generally lower. As Karate focuses on hands, the legs are often more “coiled,” ready to drive the body forward. The body weight is lower, knees relaxed but more bent and the legs often have a feeling of being “sprung-loaded” ready to drive forward. This is very sensible for a puncher. However, if you are primarily a kicker, you may not want your legs “spring-loaded.” Tae Kwon Do fighters often like to kick off the front leg. To do that, you want your legs to be “looser,” with the stance generally higher and legs straighter.

One of Karate’s most favored techniques is the reverse punch. To do this properly, you need a full hip rotation. This in turn means that your feet (when viewed from the front) are about shoulder width apart and the weight distributed fairly evenly between the feet. If however, your favored technique is a leading leg kick, you are more likely to fight with your feet in line and most of the weight on your back leg, allowing that front leg to come up very easily.

Punching

There are also differences in punching. The hips power the blow in Karate, with the shoulders relaxed and low. The “spring-loaded” legs also accelerate the rotation of the hips. In Tae Kwon Do, the hips are also used to propel the punch. When the feet are in line (for front leg kicking), however, getting the hip to round is more difficult. The hip rotation is also more difficult to propel forward when the legs are practically straight (not spring-loaded). As a result, Tae Kwon Do adjusts by slightly committing the shoulders more than in Karate. Tae Kwon Do, as a more recent form of martial art than Karate, contains certain boxing/kickboxing influences that older conventional Karate styles lack. Boxing/kickboxing also puts a little more strain on the shoulder than Karate.

Fighting guard

In the combat stance, the arms are also held differently. Because the hands and arms are the primary weapons in Karate, a Karateka will normally expect to engage with his hands and arms first. The arms act as a defensive barrier, keeping the opponent at a distance while the hands cover both the head and the body. The leading hand is frequently aimed at the opponent’s head, ready to extend if the opponent gets too close, while also protecting his own head. The backhand, which is normally about stomach height and covers the lower torso, is ready to take a tremendous finishing blow.

Fighters who do Tae Kwon Do, on the other hand, anticipate engaging with their legs first. Kicks to the body are frequently intercepted by their leg, which rises in search of an opening to counter kick. As a result, their hands are kept further back and higher to protect their heads (as the legs already guard the body).

Which Is Better for Self-Defense: Karate or Taekwondo?

This is the question most martial artists do not like to be asked. Which one is better for self-defense? The answer one might get from a seasoned martial artist is always the same: it depends on who trains it and where. It is truly an individual and specific problem.

Most fights happen in close-up scenarios, in bars or cafés, in alleys or locker rooms. There are certain things both schools teach, which can be useful in these situations, like awareness of your surroundings and keeping distance, but Karate might have an edge over Taekwondo in everyday situations, because of the use of hands. You only need one kick to be taken down by a Taekwondo practitioner, but what are the chances that a person could execute and precisely land a spinning kick in a bar scenario, for example? Not much. Karate keeps you on your feet and teaches you to use your hands efficiently. If you miss a spinning kick, you might end up on the floor, which is a very bad place to be in a street fight.

However, if you miss a punch, you probably can just send another one towards your enemy without losing your balance or having to turn your back to your attacker. Classical Karate might give you more of an edge in a street fight, but it is worth mentioning that a Taekwondo practitioner also has a massive advantage over the average Joe who feels strong after three beers. It is also a useful tool to have on the streets, and if you know how to use your legs, they can generate much more force than your arms can. Training either martial art is better than training none, both can provide amazing ways to train both the mind and the body, but if you are looking for a self-defense tool, you might be better off with training Karate.

Get a Good Instructor/Trainer

If you need a good Taekwondo and karate trainer, then Michael Deem can help you. No matter the age level, our programs are exciting, motivating, and fun! Our emphasis is on establishing discipline, respect, and courtesy in each student. This concept is built into every aspect of taekwondo and karate instruction through the positive reinforcement of martial arts protocol. Our program builds confidence and character by providing students with control over their bodies and developing their abilities.

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