Difference Between Kung Fu and Taekwondo

Kung Fu vs Taekwondo

Kung fu is a phrase that is used in a generic sense for all Chinese martial arts. In fact, the west woke up to Kung fu with the efforts of Bruce Lee, the ultimate action hero in Hollywood. Taekwondo is a great martial art from Korea that is very popular across the world with millions of practitioners. Many people become confused between Kung fu and Taekwondo and cannot decide between the two when taking up classes of martial arts as a hobby. This article attempts to remove all confusion from the minds of the readers regarding Taekwondo and Kung fu.

Kung Fu

The phrase Kung fu brings to mind the images of Bruce Lee movies. He is credited with popularizing the word Kung fu across the globe. Kung fu literally means skills that have been achieved spending time and effort. Kung fu is not a single martial art per se like karate, Jujutsu, or Muay Thai but refers to several martial arts that have originated and developed in China over thousands of years. It may surprise many but Kung fu is not a term that is recognized by the authorities in China. They make use of another term called Wushu to promote Chinese martial arts. Kung fu is, therefore, a generic term that is used to refer to not one but various martial arts.


Taekwondo is a very popular martial art emanating from Korea. It is a system of self-defense and also a combat sport that is today played at the level of Olympics. The history of Taekwondo dates back to thousands of years ago in ancient Korea when there were three rival kingdoms and young men had to be trained to defend themselves against armed warriors. The three combat arts and systems of self-defense evolved in these kingdoms were ssireum, subak, and teaekkyeon. When Japan conquered Korea in the early 20th century, it tried to suppress traditional arts of Korea. The modern martial art called taekwondo evolved from ancient Korean martial art taekkyeon. Taekwondo is one martial art that focuses more on kicking than hitting with hands which makes it different from another popular martial art called karate.

Kung Fu vs Taekwondo

• Kung fu is a blanket term used to refer to Chinese martial arts, and it is not a martial art per se.

• Taekwondo is a very popular martial art from Korea that has millions of practitioners around the world.

• Kung fu as a phrase became very popular because of the efforts of Bruce Lee who was a martial artist and a Hollywood actor.

• The literal translation of Kung fu is martial art.

• Taekwondo can be called a Kung fu, but its reverse is not true.