What are the differences between karate and taekwondo?

The karate and the taekwondo They are two martial arts of habitual practice that, at first glance, can be difficult to differentiate. In fact, they have some similarities. But they are not the same.

Both disciplines emphasize self-discipline and a high personal code of conduct. Plus, they share your competitive side. However, although they are of Japanese origin, the taekwondo It is an ancient fighting style and the karate is a discipline that emerged only a few hundred years ago, derived from the Kung Fu Chinese.

Notably, despite the similarities, specific postures and movements differ significantly between taekwondo and the karate.

Origin and history

The taekwondo, also know as taekwondo, it is a korean martial art characterized by its emphasis on head kicks, jump and spin kicks and quick kicking techniques. As a martial art, it has existed in Korea for more than 2300 years.

In its beginnings, the taekwondo it was an unarmed or unarmed defense martial art. It was known as subak. The style that gave rise to it was taekkyeon. At that time there were three rival kingdoms in Korea that trained their men in unarmed combat.

However, the Japanese, when they invaded Korea in the early 20th century, banned Korean martial arts, although some groups continued to practice them in secret. In addition, for different reasons, the styles branched out. However, thanks to a conference held in 1955 they were merged into a uniform form of teaching.

As a curiosity, we point out that tae means 'destroy with your feet', Kwon means 'hit or destroy with the hand' and do means 'way'. Therefore, taekwondo It can be translated as 'the path of the foot and the fist'.

On the other hand, karate was developed hundreds of years ago in the Ryūkyū islands (Japan), what we know today as Okinawa. It arose from Kung Fu Chinese.

Its origin dates back to the 16th century, when in 1600 Japan forcibly occupied Okinawa and confiscated all weapons. The inhabitants of the place fought with their bare hands and feet, since they had nothing else.

As for its meaning, karate means 'empty hand'. It is likely that the term is related to the origin of the discipline, as a self-defense system that is based on the effective use of the unarmed body.

Although they are not the same, there are aspects that both practices have in common and that can lead to confusion among those who do not practice them.

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Fighting style and techniques

The karate is a martial art based on punches, kicks, knee or elbow strikes and open-handed techniques. This discipline also includes blocking techniques, such as parries and some throws (takedowns). As for the movements, they are sharp and linear.

For its part, the taekwondo emphasizes kicking techniques more. However, the training is comprehensive and involves learning to punch, open-handed punches, takedowns, throws, and joint locks.

It should be noted that in taekwondo the traditional style to start with is with arms together, while in karate It consists of straight against the torso, hands just below the waist and bow executed by bending the torso downwards, while keeping the gaze on the opponent.

The differences between karate and taekwondo in competition

In competition, the differences between the karate and the taekwondo they are seen with the naked eye. In the second case and chest protector is used, while in the first there is no type of protection.

In addition, although until now the two martial arts had the consideration of Olympic sports, the karate It will no longer be present as such at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

In traditional tournaments of karate, punches and kicks earn the same amount of points, so the participants will do the same amount of both movements. However, in taekwondo more points are obtained for kicks than for blows.

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Common aspects of karate and taekwondo

Despite the differences between the karate and the taekwondo, both disciplines have some similarities. The most relevant are the following:

  • They are taught in a dojo.
  • Similar uniforms are used and worn in both disciplines, usually white and made of light cotton for easy mobility and flexibility.
  • They are governed by some of the traditional rules.
  • Both disciplines emphasize the respect towards teachers and classmates.
  • The techniques used, both in taekwondo like in karate, are part of a set of choreographed forms that are known as kata in the second and poomsae in the first.
  • Both disciplines facilitate the development of skills and qualities, such as patience, self-discipline and self-confidence, for both children and adults.

The taekwondoVisually in competitions, it is distinguished by the use of protectors.

Martial arts with particular characteristics

Once these data have been analyzed, we see that the differences between the karate and the taekwondo they are very evident, especially on television. Nevertheless, If we see them in action in a movie, it is probably not so easy to notice them.

However, it is always interesting to know what are the characteristics of each of these martial arts, as well as their points in common.

And if when you finish reading this article you are wondering what is the martial art that Bruce Lee practiced, you have to know that neither one nor the other. Bruce Lee did wing chun gung fu and ended up creating his own fighting style: the jun fan gung fu.