Ever wondered about the difference between Karate and Taekwondo? While these two may seem very similar, they do have their differences. Learn more about the history and characteristics of these two sports.

Where they originate

Simply put, Karate began in Japan while Taekwondo originated in Korea. The first form of karate originated around 500 years ago on the Japanese island of Okinawa. It is thought that King Shoha, ruler of the time, banned weapons on the island to prevent war and as a result, hand-to-hand combat became more common as a form of self-defense.

The first known Okinawan karate master, Funakoshi Gichin, was born in 1868 and dedicated his whole life to spreading karate teachings across Japan. Fast forward to 1949, and the Japan Karate Association was established to promote this martial art. The first dojo (karate training space) was opened in the United States in 1945 and over the years it spread throughout the world as different styles were formed.

Taekwondo also began in ancient times. The earliest records of people practicing this combat method goes back to 50 B.C. in Korea. When Japan occupied Korea in the early 1900s, the Japanese banned Korean military arts, including taekwondo. But some still continued to practice in secret. Because judo, karate and Kung-Fu were all introduced to Korea, taekwondo branched off into different styles with different influences. When the Japanese occupation ended in 1945, the first taekwondo school, called Kwan, opened in Korea.

In 1955 the Kwan masters came together to discuss a more uniform method of teaching the martial art. They agreed upon merging the various styles and calling it “taekwondo”. Today, the World Taekwondo Federation sets and regulates the rules for competitions and new developments in the sport.

Combat Style

“Tae” means to kick, “kwon” means to punch or destroy with the hand, and “do” means a way of doing something. Taekwondo believes in using the whole body as a form of self-defense. It is the technique of unarmed combat that involves the skillful application of punching, jumping kicks, blocks, dodges, and parrying actions with hands and feet. But it is more than a mere physical fighting skill. Taekwondo represents a way of thinking and a pattern of life requiring strict discipline. It is a system of training both the mind and the body to develop moral character.

Karate is similar to Taekwondo but places less emphasis on kicks. Karate is best known for its shuto uchi, or karate chop. This fighting style emphasizes hand techniques and uses kicks as a backup. Because karate uses many more hand attacks, the legs often stay grounded. Taekwondo, on the other hand, uses a different leg stance because the body needs to be ready at all times to perform fast kicks.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, both martial arts will give you a full-body workout and teach discipline, respect and patience. It is an excellent avenue for children to promote physical activity, moral practices and life skills. So if you’re ready to get started, contact Mission Martial Arts today or read more about the benefit of martial arts for children in our next blog.



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