Karate vs Taekwondo – Differences | Which is better?


You most likely have felt confused over martial arts at some moment in your life. That’s because there are so many of them. Thus you may get confused in picking the most suitable fighting style. Karate and Taekwondo are both fantastic martial arts. 

While Karate and Taekwondo are both traditional martial arts, they’re different. For example, Taekwondo utilizes kicking more than Karate, which uses kicking, punching, and grappling. As a result, they focus on other fighting techniques as the primary skillset. 

This article will demonstrate the differences between the two martial arts. Additionally, we’ll examine their pros and cons, so you can decide which one to begin practicing. For instance, while Taekwondo may be suitable for me, Karate may be more fitting for you. 

If you want to progress outside of your fighting gym, I encourage you to read a piece of research I wrote on the complete guide to training martial arts at home

What’s Karate?

Experts developed most traditional martial arts in the Chinese/Japanese realms. Although one may think that it doesn’t matter, the opposite is true. The fighting style origin matters plenty since the techniques and movements will differ. 

Karate is a traditional martial art that experts developed in the Japanese realm. But, first, they created it to teach the people of Okinawa island self-defense. As a result, it involves practical self-defense fighting techniques, including kicking, striking, and grappling.

Today, Karate is an Olympic sport, and thus it’s more popular than ever before. To understand why it’s as widespread as it is, we must go back in time to the island of Okinawa- where people began using it as means of self-defense. 

The fighting style is deeply rooted in the culture of the island. So today, many people who are interested in researching past civilizations, such as the Japanese, will stumble upon it.  

Karate is a convenient and effective martial art since it’s its goal. The people of Okinawa first created it to teach others self-defense and fighting. Because of that, it’s adequate for such purposes, which is fighting. 

“Training in martial arts has been shown to alter experiences of control and vulnerability, self-esteem, self-concept, fitness, confidence, and relaxation. As a result, some researchers characterize martial arts practice as a form of self-help” 


As you can see, Karate is one of the fighting styles that this study applies. Because of that, many Karata trainees experience similar benefits, so it’s as valuable as it is.  

I’ll leave you with a video that demonstrates the effectiveness and practicality of this martial art

What’s Taekwondo?

The origin of the martial art- Taekwondo, is in Korea. Although it shouldn’t say as much, it suggests the nature of the fighting techniques. So they’ll be different from fighting styles originating from Japan or China at their core. 

Taekwondo is a fighting style that’s origin is in Korea. It utilizes various fast-paced kicking and punching to beat the opponent quickly. Unlike Karate, which employs full-body movements, such as grappling, Taekwondo exclusively focuses on kicking and punching. 

Taekwondo is an Olympic sport that is prevalent in today’s world. Often, people learn it both to learn fighting and self-defense. As a result, getting both mental and physical values- is typical. 

If one mastered the art of Taekwondo, one could use the techniques to beat any opponent of any size quickly. The movements allow you to generate incredible force to cause massive damage rapidly. 

Next, is a video demonstrating a martial artist’s expertise in this fighting style. I encourage you to watch it since it’ll provide plenty of value. 

Differences between Karate and Taekwondo

All martial arts are different in some ways. For example, while one may focus on one technique, such as kicking, the other may utilize more. That’s a mere example of a difference. Yet, it applies to all fighting styles. 

This section will elaborate on the differences between the martial arts we discuss. By knowing them- you might become capable of choosing one that’s most suitable for you. Consequently, you’ll enjoy learning it more than if you were to pick the other. 

Slow-paceFast-paceKarate is slower than Taekwondo
Utilizes kicking, grappling, submissions, and strikingUtilizes kicking and punchingKarate utilizes more fighting techniques
Doesn’t have a primary techniqueKicking is its primary techniqueTaekwondo utilizes kicking more than any other movement
Originated from JapanOriginated from KoreaTheir origins are different

Karate is slower-paced than Taekwondo.

All martial arts have their average pace. You can examine it by searching for videos of fights that include the martial art. Yet, this difference is common knowledge. 

Today, Taekwondo became more popular than ever. In fact, over 70-million people train in it. Thus we understand that it’s more widespread than most fighting styles.

While Taekwondo is fast-paced, Karate is slower-paced. As a result, each style fits another group of people. If you instead study a fighting style that utilizes rapid-moving, I recommend picking the latter. In Taekwondo training, you’ll improve your reaction time and speed drastically. 

But again, because martial arts are so prevalent, different schools may teach other techniques. For instance, while a local fighting gym may teach you a “calmer” version of Karate, another may increase the pace. 

Eventually, this difference means the world. It’s usually the difference between those who want a fast-paced fighting style and those who desire the opposite. So ask yourself, what will be more of a fit for me, fast or slow-paced?

Karate utilizes more fighting techniques.

Particularly for self-defense purposes, being as dynamic as possible- is critical. Thus broadening one’s skill set will assist in improving your reactions to various dangerous situations. Because of that, many people prefer not to learn Boxing, which teaches punching exclusively. 

Karate utilizes various fighting techniques than Taekwondo, including striking, kicking, grappling, and submissions. On the other hand, the latter focuses on kicking and punching primarily. Because of that, Karate will turn you into more of a dynamic fighter. 

I prefer learning fewer techniques and mastering them. Hence I learned Boxing for a couple of years. Boxing is simple and easy to learn– unlike various martial arts

However, you may differ. Thus you might prefer learning various techniques to ensure you know to react to any situation. The quote – “A boxer on his back is a white belt,” says plenty about the situation. If your goal is to react to any dangerous fighting situation, choosing Karate is more suitable than the latter. 

Taekwondo uses kicking as its primary technique.

Most martial arts have their focus. Other than mixed martial arts, which in its definition is dynamic, you can point to a single fighting technique that one fighting style has. Because of that, both Karate and Taekwondo have their primary focus.

Taekwondo uses kicking as its primary technique regardless of your learning style. Its kicking is a fast-paced type, so it’s suitable for many people who desire to study such a move. Other martial arts have their focus, such as Boxing with punching. 

If you’re more interested in fast kicking, there’s no doubt you should learn Taekwondo. Yet, if you desire to learn more about a dynamic fighting style that utilizes various fighting techniques, consider Karate.  

From my perspective, learning a single move will drastically improve your odds of mastering it. However, if you have ever practiced mixed martial arts, you know that to master such a style, one must dedicate countless hours of intense effort. Therefore, mastering it- is more demanding than your average fighting style. 

Karate’s origin is different from Taekwondo’s

The last difference we’ll discuss has to be one of the least influential ones. Although some may look at it and change their opinion, most of us don’t care where someone first made it to be. However, this difference does cause various gaps between the two styles. Let’s examine it. 

Karate first originated from Okinawa island, which is in Japan. It was first taught to its people for self-defense purposes. To this day, it’s highly effective for such a purpose. On the other hand, Taekwondo originates from Korea. 

These differences in countries say plenty to martial arts researchers. They know everything about history and the different moves. However, for us typical fighters, that shouldn’t bother us. So, why did I mention it? 

Frankly, it may apply to some people, but you can commonly spot the differences in styles if you look closely at the two martial arts. For example, if a Karate trainee and a Taekwondo practitioner were to fight, you would immediately notice the differences. While one is exceptionally fast-paced and utilizes kicking, the other uses all body motions to generate massive force. By now, you should know which is which. 

Which is better, Taekwondo or Karate?

To compare two martial arts, one would have to assume a single metric, which will determine this question; If a Taekwondo and a Karate trainee were to fight, assuming they’re equally skilled, who would win? But again, this answer could never be as accurate as you may like it to be. 

Assuming the Karate and the Taekwondo trainee are equally skilled, the Karate practitioner would win since one has a broader skillset. For example, one knows to grapple, kick, punch, and use submissions. Yet, the latter mainly focuses on kicking and punching, which is less. 

Although that’s an utterly valid reason, we assumed plenty of details. For instance, the Taekwondo trainee may land a fatal kick, and so one will win. On the other, we could be right since Karate involves more sparring and techniques. 

I mentioned that a Boxer would beat a Karate trainee in one of my other articles. Well, that doesn’t seem right- going for the reasons above. Boxing includes a single technique, which is striking; that doesn’t make any sense. 

Yet, Boxing is a modern martial art that focuses on fighting. Its trainee’s spar since they finish learning the basics. Thus they’re more comfortable with fighting than most fighting style practitioners, excluding MMA

Karate is better than Taekwondo since it involves more fighting techniques and focuses more on fighting. However, many people learn the latter for the sport itself rather than to learn to fight. For your information, that’s an entirely valid reason. 

Who wins, Karate or Taekwondo

Again, comparing two fighting styles- is as tricky as suggesting one is better than another. Yet, we can assume that we judge these martial arts by their general pros and cons. Thus we can reach a statement in which one wins. 

Karate wins vs. Taekwondo since it involves more fighting movements, such as grappling, kicking, and submissions. As a result, it has more utility, and it’s more dynamic than the latter. Moreover, it includes more sparring sessions than Taekwondo. 

But again, I must note that various Taekwondo schools include more sparring than most Karate schools. On the other hand, we can say the opposite. Because of that, this comparison generalizes our situation and thus answers the question. 

To conclude this issue, picking a martial art to start learning can be as challenging as the training itself. Hence knowing what each one offers- is beneficial to the process. For instance, if you know you want to study more than just kicking and punching, Karate is for you. 

Which is harder to learn, Karate or Taekwondo?

To understand this question and answer it entirely, we must return to the basics. Often, a fighting style is more uncomplicated to learn if it involves fewer techniques. For instance, Boxing is one of the easiest martial arts one can know- it’s also why it’s as popular as it is. 

Karate is more challenging to learn than Taekwondo since it involves more fighting techniques, such as grappling. As a result, studying and practicing it- will take longer than the latter, which incorporates kicking and punching exclusively. 

Image by BedexpStock from Pixabay

Yet, some fighting gyms are more strict than others. Consequently, training may be more difficult than other less strict ones. Hence Taekwondo may be more tricky to learn than Karate when comparing specific schools. Yet, the general rule sticks with our pursuit. 

Again, the best rule to stick with is that the more movements you’ll learn, the harder it’ll take to study. As a result, Boxing is easier to understand than most fighting styles.

Which is better for self-defense, Taekwondo or Karate?

When discussing self-defense, the entire atmosphere changes. Our pursuit with our relations to fighting is different, and therefore, our approach should change. However, before answering that, let’s discuss our objective when discussing self-defense. 

We want to learn to disable the attacker as fast as possible for self-defense. As a result, odds are- we’ll be safer than if we were to take our time and let the attacker flee/respond. Thus the fighting movements shift together with our goal. Now, we can discuss our topic. 

For self-defense, Karate is better than Taekwondo since it includes suitable techniques, such as grappling and submissions. In our training gyms, when we reach submissions, we can tap out and cease the fight. Yet, there’s no tap out in real life, and our goal is to disable the attacker. 

Now that we understand why Karate is more effective for self-defense, let’s examine why Taekwondo isn’t as suitable for such a purpose. 

In Taekwondo, you learn to strike and kick powerfully. So, one can argue that it benefits our cause. Yet, that’s inaccurate since kicks and punches may not solve our issues. If the attacker lashes at us, we wouldn’t be capable of reacting smoothly. Therefore, it’s not as fittable self-defense as much as Karate is. 

If you want to read more about self-defense and how you can learn to use it with martial arts, follow the link to an article of mine. 

Should I learn Karate or Taekwondo?

Choosing with fighting style to learn is, at times- more challenging than training. Because of that, if you’re hesitating between these two styles, this section will assist you. Read the following paragraph if you desire to pick the best one for you. 

Both Karate and Taekwondo are incredible martial arts- that provide various mental and physical benefits. If, however, you’re interested in fast-paced kicking and punching, Taekwondo is for you. Yet, if you desire to practice whole-body motions- that involve grappling, punching, and kicking, consider Karate.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

I was in your position a few years ago. Although it may seem as if you’re incapable of making this decision, you can choose the most suitable one for your desires. If you succeed in picking the right one, you’ll enjoy training more than if you were to pick the latter.

“The majority of Taekwondo students reported positive perceptions of Taekwondo and perceived self-improvement in self-control and physical fitness. Results suggest that Taekwondo is an exercise program that improves cognitive functioning and is both feasible and acceptable to implement in a public school setting.” 


According to this study, Taekwondo provides many benefits to its trainees. Previously in this article, I mentioned a piece of research regarding the benefits of Karate. As such, I felt obliged to include one that shows the other.

I wrote a post about the actual cost of martial arts. If you’re interested in starting to learn, I encourage you to read it. 

Is Taekwondo effective in a real fight?

We’ll discuss Taekwondo has two prior versions; the first is the sport, and the second is the fighting style itself. Although they may sound similar, they’re different in all possible ways. For instance, while the first has rules, the other doesn’t, creating more gaps. 

Taekwondo is effective in real fights since you’ll learn to use kicking and punching as offensive and defensive moves. Moreover, you’ll learn to adapt your footwork to assist you in fights. As a result, learning it- for self-defense- is possible.

Is Karate effective in a real fight?

This article discussed the two fighting styles- I compared, Taekwondo and Karate. In it, I mentioned a couple of times that the latter is better than the first since it involves more fighting techniques. Let’s examine whether Karate is effective in real fights.

Karate is practical in real fights since it incorporates various techniques suitable for self-defense. For instance, you’ll learn to grapple, kick, and punch. However, the sport itself isn’t as ideal as the entirely traditional martial art. Thus learning it for self-defense- is possible. 

Final words

Both martial arts are incredible choices, and so you’ll learn to fight and use self-defense by doing both. Moreover, both are Olympic sports, which means they’re prevalent. As a result, more fighting gyms will include them in the roster. 

Karate and Taekwondo are different yet similar. Their goal is the same. However, their origin is different, and they incorporate various fighting movements. Consequently, while one may suit you, the latter may fit others. Thus it’ll be best if you reconsider the benefits and disadvantages of each to understand your favored choice thoroughly.

Learning to use self-defense has changed my life 180-degrees. I now am more confident than ever in my abilities. Hence they provide various mental and physical benefits, which you should utilize. If you want to read more about them, follow the link to a piece of research of mine.  


I've served in the military as a special forces operator for 4-years. In that period, I've trained in many martial arts, including karate, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and even Krav Maga. I want to share my passion with you, so here it is!

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