Difference Between Karate and Taekwondo

Karate vs Taekwondo

Karate and Taekwondo are two very popular martial arts practiced by millions around the world. Both are systems of self-defense and have many similarities. While Karate is of Japanese and Chinese origins, Taekwondo is a martial art from Korea. There are many similarities between Karate and Taekwondo, to confuse people as they cannot decide between the two, to take up as a hobby. However, despite similarities, there are enough differences between karate and taekwondo that will be highlighted in this article.


Karate is a martial art that is very popular all over the world. It is believed to have originated in Ryukyu Islands that is now a part of Japan. The martial art was introduced to the Japanese by Ryukyuans in early 20th century and soon became very popular. Japanese tried to develop it as a martial art with Japanese style. After the 2nd WW, Okinawa, the place where Karate evolved became an important military site for the Americans who developed a liking for the martial art. Karate got an impetus when it was projected as an attacking martial art in Hollywood films with actors of Chinese origin such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Karate is today both a sport as well as a martial art for self-defense.


Taekwondo is a martial art of Korean origin and one of the most popular too. It is both a system of self-defense as well as a combat sport. Taekwondo is the refined version of self-defense that has evolved out of several martial arts that were in existence during the times of the three Korean kingdoms. The rivalry between these kingdoms meant young boys had to be trained in unarmed combat so as to improve upon their speed and stamina and also to help develop survival skills. Today, taekwondo is a modern martial art and also an Olympic sport.

If one tries to look at the meaning of the word taekwondo, he finds that tae means to strike with feet while kwon means hitting with hands. ‘Do’ means a way of life or doing a thing and hence taekwondo is seen as a martial art that is primarily one that emphasizes on striking with feet.

Karate vs Taekwondo

• Karate is of Japanese origin, whereas taekwondo is of Korean origin.

• Karate evolved in Ryukyu Islands, whereas inter rivalry of 3 Korean Kingdoms led to the development of several martial arts that finally gave shape to the modern taekwondo.

• Taekwondo is more for self-defense whereas karate is seen as an aggressive style of martial art.

• Taekwondo is a martial art having influences from three old martial arts from Korea namely Taekkyon, Takkyon, and Subbak.

• Hands are used more in Karate whereas feet are used more in taekwondo.

• The stance of a karateka is lower, whereas that of a taekwondo practitioner is higher to allow him to make use of legs for kicking.

• Taekwondo is a medal sport at Olympics whereas karate is not an Olympic sport.