Is Kung Fu Better Than Karate?

Kung Fu is an ancient martial art, it is also known as Wushu or Quanfa.

In China, the term Kung Fu refers to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete.

There are a whole host of different types of Kung Fu, like Shaolin Kung Fu, Wing Chun, Tai Chi etc, and they are practised in some form or another, all over the world today.

Is Kung Fu Better Than Karate?

Each different variation of Kung Fu has its own techniques and principles but overall, Kung Fu is best known for trickery and quickness, which is actually where the term ‘Kung Fu’ was derived from.

It is only since the end of the twentieth century that this term was used in relation to Chinese martial arts.

But is Kung Fu actually better than other forms of martial arts, like Kung Fu?

Throughout this article, we’ll go through the history, differences and similarities of the two to find out!

The History Of Kung Fu

Kung Fu is a revered and ancient sport that is still extremely popular in China, and even all over the world, today.

Kung Fu has a long and varied history, it originated over 1.7 million years ago and was mainly used as a hunting method for primitive societies.

At that time people used cudgels to fight against wild beasts. Gradually they accumulated experience of self-defence.

When the Shang Dynasty began, hunting was considered as an important measure of Kung Fu training.

At first Kung Fu only included some basic moves like cleaving, chopping and stabbing but since then, it has developed and become a much more complex skill.

Kung Fu combines techniques of both self defence and health keeping.

Below we’ve constructed a timeline of how Kung Fu has developed and become more recognised throughout the years:

  • 1927 – The Central National Martial Arts Society was established.
  • 1936 – The Chinese Martial Arts Team went to Berlin to participate in the Olympics.
  • 1956 – The Chinese Martial Arts Association set up official Martial Arts Teams.
  • 1985 – International Martial Arts Invitational Tournament was held in Xi’an with the establishment of the International Martial Arts League.
  • 1987 – The first Asian Martial Arts Tournament was held in Hengbin.
  • 1990 – Martial arts were, for the first time, listed as a competition event in the 11th Asian Games.
  • 1999 – International Martial Arts League was invited as a member of the International Individual Events Federation by the International Olympic Committee. This was the sign of Chinese Martial Arts walking globally.

How Are Kung Fu And Karate Different?

There are an incredible amount of different styles that come under the umbrella of martial arts.

Each martial arts discipline has its own various techniques born out of specific parts of the world.

Two of the most popular disciplines, Karate and Kung Fu, are often used interchangeably.

Certain forms of each originate from similar styles of martial arts, but Karate and Kung Fu are fundamentally different forms.

Linear Vs Circular Motion

One of the most significant ways that the 2 martial arts differ is that Karate is generally said to be more linear while Kung Fu tends to be more circular.

What this means is that Karate movements tend to take you forward with your momentum towards your target, while Kung Fu movements shift weight laterally and depend heavily on your reactions to your target’s attacks.

Kung Fu therefore is more useful in situations where you might be grappling with your target, while Karate is a more offensive martial art.

In a general sense, Karate can be used more efficiently to harm an opponent while Kung Fu can be used more defensively to stop an opponent.

Different Uniforms

Different Uniforms

Any martial artist can be identified by the look or style of their uniform.

Often, Karate uniforms are a more common martial artist uniform, they consist of a simple white jacket, pants, and colored belt according to skill level.

Kung Fu uniforms, on the other hand, consist of different style tops with frog buttons. They also come in a variety of different colours.

The main difference between the two uniforms is that Kung Fu artists wear shoes while Karate practitioners do not.

Which One Is Better?

Karate was initially developed from Lo Han styles of Kung Fu and it is thought of as a part of a bigger system.

Kung Fu, on the other hand, is much more complete and complex as an art. Kung Fu envelops smaller branches of martial arts within it.

You can think of it as Kung Fu being a whole apple pie, while Karate is just a slice of it.

Karate and some other martial arts tend to be more linear in their uses of techniques, this often makes them easier to learn and easier to get some proficiency earlier on.

The thing to take into account is that this also becomes their downfall as the techniques become easier to interpret in combat and competitions so an experienced fighter will easily be able to detect your techniques and counter them easily as time goes on.

Kung Fu has many styles including animal styles like Crane, Tiger, Leopard, Mantis, Snake, Eagle, Chicken, Dragon, Monkey, Bear, and many others too!

There are also some Human styles, Drunken styles, and internal arts like Tai Chi, Hsing-I, Chi Kung training, and more.

You get a huge array of techniques that are much more deceptive, fluid, and effective from various sides and systems that can be used to attack and defend against any opponent.

Overall, there are a larger variety of techniques, styles, weapons and uniforms found in Chinese kung fu systems when compared to karate.

This can make it seem like Kung Fu is the more superior discipline. However, it isn’t quite as easy a comparison as that.

Kung Fu, as we previously discussed, is an umbrella that encompases many forms of martial art, while Karate is only one form of that art.

A comparison, in this respect cannot be accurately drawn between the two, they are both ancient and revered, and have merits worthy of practice.

Christopher Anderson
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