During the last couple of decades, following the rise of popularity of mixed martial arts competitions, people often tend to have “Taekwondo vs. Karate” discussions, in order to determine which one of these techniques is better and more efficient – everyone who is even slightly into martial arts was surely, at some point, involved in one of those.
Karate and Taekwondo have a lot of things in common – their history, styles and influences during the centuries were ever so often similar and intertwined.
Both of these Oriental martial arts are ancient – their origins can be traced more than 1500 years back. Even though Karate was conceived in Japan, and Taekwondo in Korea, both of them were under massive influence from Chinese martial arts; both of them evolved over the centuries inside isolated, military societies; both Taekwondo and Karate were almost forgotten, and later on, restored; they influenced each other significantly, especially during the Japanese occupation of Korea during the XX century; and finally, both of these martial arts became very popular in the Western world after the World War II, when the American soldiers came into contact with them.
If you are a layman, these martial arts might seem very similar at a first glance: in both of them, the main emphasis is on striking techniques. But, if we take a closer look and compare Karate vs. Taekwondo, we will notice that there are also many significant differences between them.
One of the main differences is that there are many different schools and styles of Karate. Some of them focus mainly on unarmed fighting, and some of them include fighting with weapons; some of them are practiced with certain restrictions and include fighting competitions, and some are practiced without any limitations, but are not competitive, due to the possibility of serious injuries.
On the other hand, Taekwondo is one of the most attractive Olympic sports, and you’ll seldom come across the school that practices it in its original and unrestricted form.
When it comes to fighting philosophy, when you compare Karate vs. Taekwondo, you’ll notice that both use very similar striking techniques – swift striking with fists and open hands, powerful leg strikes, and blocking techniques. The main difference is that Karate uses both hand and leg strikes evenly, while Taekwondo puts its main emphasis on leg strikes.
There are six different types of leg strikes in Taekwondo, and all of them can be done either with one foot on the ground, or while jumping. Taekwondo leg strikes are delivered onto the torso and, most often, the head, while in Karate there are no such restrictions. Hitting the head with a hand, is, however, forbidden both in Taekwondo and competitive styles of Karate.
The most obvious visual difference between Taekwondo and Karate is, of course, the uniform. Karate practitioners usually use Gi – cross-over front jackets and pants, tied up around the waist by a belt, while Taekwondo students use Dobok – V-neck jackets with no cross-over and pants, also tied around the waist – needless to say that the color of the belt signifies one’s rank. Because the strikes in both of these martial arts are delivered with tremendous force, durings sparing, protective equipment is often used.