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Difference Between Taekwondo and Karate

Updated: May 9, 2020

This post was written by Instructor Tristan McLean


You may be familiar with martial arts from action moves with superstars like Bruce Lee Chuck Norris and Michael Jai White. To most people they all look the same. You might also think that they are all doing is called “Karate”, however each martials art is distinct and comes from a distinct region. Each martial art comes from a different country. For example, Taekwondo comes from Korea, Capoeira comes from Brazil, Karate comes from Japan, Muay Thai comes from Thailand, and Kung Fu from China. Each martial art also has a distinct style with similarities and differences. For most people it is easy to confuse styles such as Taekwondo and Karate. Sometimes I hear students mistakenly call what they are learning as “Karate” when they are really learning “Taekwondo”. There are some important differences between Taekwondo and Karate.

Taekwondo comes from the country called Korea. Taekwondo uses a lot of kicking techniques supplemented with hand techniques. Taekwondo also has a particularly distinct style for self-defense skills. Taekwondo is a globally recognized sport under The World Taekwondo Federation. Thousands of practitioners compete on the Olympic level of Taekwondo. Taekwondo is taught in schools called dojangs across the world with students as young as 3 years old and as old as 80 years old.

Karate comes from the country Japan and has many different Karate organizations. Karate is a martial art which primarily uses hand techniques supplemented with some foot techniques. Karate is taught in schools called dojos. Karate also has a specific style of self-defense movements.

What are the other differences between these martial arts? Besides the country of origin and the emphasis on either hand skills or foot skills, Taekwondo is a more well-rounded martial art with the fastest kicks, hand strikes, takedowns, joint locks, throws and blocks. Taekwondo practices sequential techniques called forms or Poomsae while Karate calls them Katas. Taekwondo Kyorugi (sparring) has been an Olympic sport since 2000, which Karate debuted Katas (forms) and Kumite (fighting) in the Olympics in 2021. There are also significant differences in stances, blocks, kicking and form techniques.

Some people may ask which martial art is better? The simple answer: neither. Each martial art accomplishes the same thing in a different way. However, if you prefer to learn a plethora of kicks and great cardiovascular sparring then Taekwondo is the recommended martial art. If you are someone who wants to learn punching and powerful punching techniques, then Karate is the martial art you should learn.

At New Creation Taekwondo we teach Taekwondo with a broad range of skills from kicking and punching, to self-defense, to weapons, to sparring. We seek to give our students diverse skills to help them succeed in their personal martial arts goals.

I hope that this article clears up some confusing on the differences between Karate and Taekwondo. Please don’t hesitate to ask a staff member for more clarity in the similarities and differences.


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