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Karate vs. Taekwondo

When you’re thinking about engaging in martial arts training, you should first determine which form of martial arts is best suited for your abilities, philosophies, and lifestyle. Karate and Taekwondo are two common and separate forms for study, but unfortunately, they are frequently confused with each other. While there are some similarities, there are significant differences that separate the two. Most notably, Taekwondo originated in Korea, and Karate is a Japanese form of martial arts.


Karate is an art that focuses on striking, with kicking, punching, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques as well. Karate’s movements are crisp and linear, and they include several blocking techniques and takedowns. According to legend, Karate was first seen in in 5th Century C.E. when an Indian Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma arrived in Shaolin-si, which is a small forest temple. From there, it spread quickly to a Japanese island called Okinawa where it began its evolution into the form we know well today. The word “karate” translates into English as “empty hands,” which refers to Karate’s effective use of unarmed defense techniques.


Taekwondo is a combat sport and a form of Korean martial art. It emphasizes kicking techniques that are graceful, yet powerful. Punching, blocking, and takedowns are also a part of Taekwondo, although kicking has a greater presence. It began in Korea some time between 37 B.C.E and 668 C.E. and grew under the influence of the Goguryeo, Silla, and Baekje kingdoms. It has evolved through the years and is now a more systematic practice than it was originally. Taekwondo is one of the fastest martial arts, and its name translates into English as “the way of the foot and fist.”

A diligent study of Karate and Taekwondo will uncover more detailed differences than those described here, but this information should give you a general idea of what makes each discipline unique. If you’re interested in the mental and physical health benefits of practicing one or more of the martial arts, contact NY Martial Arts Academy to speak with a skilled and experienced instructor who can help you take the first steps toward building your self defense skills while increasing your physical and mental strength.