Is Karate Better Than Taekwondo?

Choosing which martial arts would be better to learn can be a difficult question to answer.

Some martial arts focus more on kicking, self-defense, and self-control, and often it can be hard to know which would be best suited to you.

Is Karate Better Than Taekwondo

In this piece, we look at Karate and Taekwondo and explore why people often question if Karate is better than Taekwondo. 


Karate is a Japanese martial art that is practiced all over the world. It continues to have bursts of popularity thanks to its presence in modern culture, through films and Television shows such as The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai.

As Karate originates from the island of Okinawa influences from both China and Japan can be recognized in this ancient martial art form.

Since its inception Karate Dojos have been built in many major cities around the world and the martial art has developed to now be made up of different styles and federations. 

The most common Karate styles today are:

  • Goju-Ryu
  • Shito-Ryu
  • Shotokan
  • Wado-Ryu

Karate is a hugely disciplined martial art and students are expected to bring their learning outside of the Dojo and apply it to their personal lives. Some of the core principles of Karate are respect, self-control, and faith.

Both the mind and body are trained and this training starts from the moment you begin to study Karate.

Karate is focused on self-defense and it is taught that the physical skills that are learned in Karate are never to be used to initiate an attack.

Skills should only be used when it is not possible to escape from physical harm and defense is necessary.


Taekwondo is one of the most ancient martial arts and it comes from Korea. It was banned for some time when Japan took over Korea in the early 1900s.

As a result, the early forms of Taekwondo were lost and the styles that are practiced today are heavily influenced by other martial arts, such as Kung Fu, Karate, and Judo. (Find out Is Kung Fu Better Than Taekwondo?)

There are two main sub-styles of Taekwondo and within these substyles, there are even more different types of styles.

Kukkiwon-defined Taekwondo can be found most commonly around the world as it is the style that is accepted in the Olympics.

Taekwondo is a very physical martial art and most styles comprise mostly spinning and kicking.

The entire body is used to attack and protect in Taekwondo and physical strength is heavily focused on. 

Karate vs Taekwondo 

Karate vs Taekwondo 

Now that you understand the basic history of both Karate and Taekwondo let’s take a look at the differences between Karate and Taekwondo.


The technique between Karate and Taekwondo is very visibly different, you can expect to see strong, quick movements in Karate such as a punch or a kick being executed.

In Taekwondo there is a lot of energy exerted as there is more of a focus on kicking. 

Both martial arts focus on physical strength and the techniques learned can be challenging.

Both martial arts require speed, balance, and flexibility but these skills are utilized in different ways.

Form and Styles

Karate is built up of three main focuses, Kata, Kumite, and Kihon.

Kumite is sparring but the focus is to not draw blood or cause serious harm to your opponent, therefore showing the self-control you have over your emotions and your movements.

Kihon is the basics that are taught and Kata is a choreographed routine of moves.

There are two focuses within Taekwondo.  Sparring is more physical and there is not as much focus put on restraint which means people can often get injured.

Taekwondo also focuses on Kata which is the same as it is in Karate, a routine of movements performed in succession. 

Kihon in Karate is at the base of a student’s ability. As there is no such focus in Taekwondo, the basics and simple form can often be forgotten.

As a result, Karate can often look more polished and clean as every movement is carefully taught and executed, stemming from respect for the martial art.


From the moment a student begins to learn Karate, they are taught that Karate should never be used to start a fight, it should only ever be used as a way to defend when escape is not possible.

Using Karate skills outside of the Dojo to inflict harm on others can result in being expelled from a club.

Taekwondo in its early origins was used as a way to use the body as a weapon and as such Taekwondo gives people the ability to be great fighters.

Using Taekwondo outside of a Dojo is not advised, however, the penalty for doing so is not as heavy as it would be in Karate.

Best Suited To 

Taekwondo is best suited to anyone who wants to focus on learning cool moves that will have them jumping in the air, spinning around, and kicking a lot.

There is a certain level of fitness that is required for Taekwondo and so many younger people would learn this martial art.

Karate is suited to those who want to learn a more controlled martial art that will help them to train the mind and body.

The strength taught in Karate comes from the core of a being and so there is no need for big fancy moves.

The hands are used the most and the legs stay firmly on the ground for the most part in Karate. 

Final Thoughts 

Both Karate and Taekwondo are art forms and which is better will depend on personal preferences.

Karate is viewed to be one of the most well-rounded sports as it helps people to develop mentally as well as physically. With Taekwondo, the focus is more on physicality. 

Whether Karate is better than Taekwondo is a debate that will continue, with each style being compared to other styles of martial arts.

To help find what style is best suited to you, a trial lesson at a local Dojo can be helpful as it gives potential students a realistic view as to what can be expected from a specific style of martial arts class.

Christopher Anderson
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