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

Adult Karate

Taekwondo vs Karate – which do you choose? Lots of people think they’re the same, but there are a few differences that will determine which is better for you and your martial arts goals. We’ll settle this classic debate and go over the differences between karate and taekwondo to empower you to make 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 matter of kicks and punches. Think of the shuto uchi, or the famous “karate chop” you’ve seen in movies – karate uses hand techniques primarily, and then kicking is more of an occasional thing.

Taekwondo is the exact opposite – it emphasizes kicking and uses hand moves as the backup. Taekwondo is also more diverse with the moves you can master, including spinning and jumping kicks. It makes you think “Is taekwondo better than karate?”

Origins of Karate and Taekwondo

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. Meanwhile, taekwondo has been established 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, 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.CE. 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 whole body–it’s known as the art of the foot and hand.

Fun fact, when Japan overtook Korea in the 1900s, the Japanese banned taekwondo. Japanese rebels practiced the martial arts form in secret, and they’re the ones who kept taekwondo alive to this day. It makes you wonder “Is taekwondo the same as karate?”

Different Techniques Used

Adult Karate ClassesSo what is the difference between Taekwondo vs Karate? 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 without weapons of any kind.

There’s a certain focus on stamina and mental strength 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. Alternatively, 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.

Students in taekwondo classes learn spin kicks and several different kicking combinations while using hand techniques if necessary. Taekwondo is a good fit if your opponent is at a distance because you can leverage the length of your legs against them. It makes you question “is karate and taekwondo the same?”

Competing in Taekwondo vs Karate

Taekwondo vs KarateBoth karate and taekwondo are not only practical and effective martial arts forms, they 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 Lynbrook 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 rules are a bit more complex, 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 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.

So 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 a ton 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 self-defense is the one you do. Doing nothing will result in nothing! So come and try martial arts with our First Battalion staff here in Lynbrook for yourself- you’ll love it!