Karate Vs. Taekwondo: Which One Is Better For You?

Do you want to improve your physical and mental health and fitness? Then, practicing martial arts is perhaps one of the best ways. It will allow you to build muscle, learn self-defense, and enhance your balance. So, karate vs. taekwondo: which one is better for you?

In general, karate is more effective and more popular than taekwondo because it teaches you broader skills. Taekwondo is a striking art that emphasizes the use of legs and fast kicks. On the other side, karate is a full-contact art that emphasizes hand techniques, including fighting with hands.

In addition, both taekwondo and karate will teach you fighting techniques, using stances, kicking and punching, and defending yourself.

While karate and taekwondo have some similar features, they are also vastly different in many aspects. Here is a comprehensive guide to these martial art forms. 

See also: The 16 Top Martial Arts For Getting In Shape.

Karate Vs. Taekwondo: Which One Is Better For You?
Karate Vs. Taekwondo: Which One Is Better For You?

Table of Contents

A Brief Introduction To Karate 

The first form of karate developed around 500 years ago on the island of Okinawa in Japan. Karate is one of the top fighting styles that has its roots in China and Japan. However, it became popular in the USA and worldwide after WWII. When that happened, various substyles also developed. The first karate training space (also referred to as a dojo) was opened in the U.S. in 1945. 

Karate is continuously evolving as a martial arts form. The most common types of karate are as follows:

  • gōju-ryū
  • Shotokan
  • shitō-ryū
  • wadō-ryū

In simple terms, karate utilizes the hands and feet to block and deliver blows. Remember that you perform karate barefoot and wear padded and loose clothing with a belt. The color of the belt will indicate your level of skill. 

The World Karate Federation defines the core values of karate (honor, respect, tradition, and altruism) and provides universal guidelines for practicing karate as a sport and competing professionally.

See also: Jiu-Jitsu Vs. Karate: Which One Should You Choose?

Karate Advantages And Disadvantages – altinify.com

A Brief Introduction To Taekwondo

Taekwondo originated in Korea, and it is the art of self-defense everyone must be familiar with. It dates back over two-thousand years, which is why people recognize it as one of the oldest martial art forms. There are three elements to taekwondo: Tae (foot), Kwon (hand), and Do (art). 

  • “Tae” means to kick. 
  • “Kwon” means to destroy or punch with the hand, 
  • and “do” signifies a way of doing something

Overall, taekwondo literally means to use your whole body to defend yourself. The self-defense art is known for its excellent techniques, which sets it apart from other martial arts, such as Kung Fu and Karate. As a result, people use taekwondo as a sport and exercise. Because of this, people of all ages and genders take part in it. 

The World Taekwondo Federation governs the sport of taekwondo. It preserves the core values of taekwondo, which include perseverance, the search for pleasure, surpassing oneself, physical and moral strength, and respect for others.

Which Is Harder: Karate Or Taekwondo?

In general, taekwondo students need around 4 to 5 years of training to achieve a 1st-degree black belt. And self-motivated karate student can earn a black belt in five years, depending on the school, the form of karate, the level of talent and athleticism of the student, and how much time the student is willing to train.

Learning any martial art and reaching a level of proficiency, such as black belt rank, is challenging. Both these martial art forms enable you to start from a beginner level and work your way up. You will learn the basics and build a solid foundation of the techniques and moves that you can improve with time. 

As you go ahead, you will move on to advanced moves. That is why you must choose what martial art form you want to practice according to your preferences. You will start from the basics and then move onto advanced levels for excellent practice

See also: Karate Vs. Kung Fu: Which One Should You Learn?

Which Is Better For Self-Defense: Karate Or Taekwondo?

In karate vs. taekwondo, most people will say that both martial art forms are ideal for self-defense. That is because karate works better on the street, as it focuses on hand techniques that are easier to learn. So, it will prepare you for a street fight if that happens. 

On the other hand, taekwondo requires excellent skill and balance to execute a foot technique. However, the power you generate during these moves is much higher than in karate. A small kick can land a significant blow, which means you have enough time to get away. 

Besides that, taekwondo was originally developed for self-defense. Both are great, and the one you select depends on your personal preferences. You can try out both forms to see which one works best for you in self-defense. 

Is Taekwondo or Karate More Popular?

Based on web searches, karate is far more popular than taekwondo. The results are based on worldwide search data from Google search trends for over 18 years (from 2004).

The graph below compares taekwondo and karate in terms of popularity.

Is Taekwondo or Karate More Popular?
Table Displays Graphs Of Taekwondo vs Karate in Terms of Popularity – altinify.com (Source: Google Trends)

As you can see from the picture below, karate is more popular in Africa, North America, Europe, and even in most Asian countries, except Korea.

Overall, compared to taekwondo, karate is more popular worldwide.

Is Taekwondo or Karate More Popular 1
Table Compares Karate Vs. Taekwondo Across Countries Worldwide – altinify.com (Source: Google Trends)

Karate Vs. Taekwondo: What Are The Differences And Similarities?

Now that you know the basics of taekwondo, here are some similarities between both:

1- Teach Discipline And Patience 

Be it karate or taekwondo; both these martial art forms will teach you discipline and patience. You will cultivate these qualities while learning these art forms because they require extreme precision from the individual.

Besides that, you will also need to stay disciplined to learn the art forms in the best way

2- Offers A Full-Body Workout 

Karate and taekwondo utilize your entire body, which is why they are ideal full-body workouts. You will learn hand attacks, kicking, spinning, jumping, and much more in both these martial art forms.

Because of this, you will stay in excellent shape as you practice these techniques. Now that you know the similarities between these martial art forms, you must understand the differences. These include:

2- Usage Of Hands 

When you learn karate, you will notice that karate uses hand attacks more. On the other hand, taekwondo only uses hands as a backup, and it utilizes more leg attacks.

The key difference is that using your legs will allow you to generate more power so that you can deliver a deadly blow. 

3- Usage Of Legs 

When you are practicing karate, your legs will stay on the ground most of the time because karate uses hands. On the other hand, taekwondo involves moves such as spinning, jumping, and kicking, which is why you will be using your feet much more.

Of course, if you want to learn self-defense, then the ideal choice is to opt for taekwondo, as it will deliver a deadlier blow. 

4- Backup Limbs 

In taekwondo, you will use your hands as a backup limb while working with your feet the entire time. On the other hand, karate only uses kicks as a backup while using the hands most of the time. Remember that you will be blocking and attacking your opponent in both these art forms. 

However, they differ in the way you block and attack your opponents. That is why selecting one martial art form between karate vs. taekwondo is a personal preference. You have the option to choose the one you think will suit you best according to the techniques and attacks you want to learn

5- Rules 

Taekwondo allows for full-contact sparring. The kicks earn more points than the hand techniques. On the other hand, karate focuses more on form and technique

Of course, if you want to compete and earn points, then you will have to execute the techniques in the best way possible. So, the competition rules will also differ from one another. 

6- Gear

In both taekwondo and karate, students wear white uniforms for training. Gi with patches indicating which style students practice and their school (dojo).

Both taekwondo and karate practitioners wear protective gear, including mouth guards and shin guards. However, taekwondo practitioners often wear chest protectors and other full-body equipment because full contact is allowed in sparring.

Karate Vs. Taekwondo KarateTaekwondo
Common name Karate-Do– Tae Kwon-Do
– Taekwon-Do
– Tae Kwon Do
Country of OriginJapan (Okinawa)Korea
Uniform Gi Dobok or sometimes Tobo
General title for instructorSenseiSa bum nim
Table Displays The Differences And Similarities Between Karate And Taekwondo – altinify.com

7- Competitions

Both taekwondo and karate have specific rules and guidelines that govern how to compete in both martial arts. In competition, judges will determine a score based on how well the martial art was performed.

In tournaments, karate typically gives points equally for both punches and kicks. On the other hand, taekwondo gives higher points to kicks; therefore, you will see more kicking in taekwondo competitions.

See also: Is Krav Maga Better Than Karate?

Karate Vs. Taekwondo: Which One Is Better For You?

Both karate and taekwondo are excellent ways to do a full-body workout and teach discipline and patience. If you want to develop more balanced, full-body movements, choose karate. And if you want to learn fast and more elaborate kicking movements, choose taekwondo.

In addition, the best martial arts will depend on other factors, including the dojo, the instructors, and more importantly, the one you enjoy the most is the best.

I suggest you check in your area for beginners classes and try both martial arts as most schools offer trial classes.

See also: Is Krav Maga More Useful Than Muay Thai? (Find out now!)

Wrapping Up

The better martial arts for you depends on the techniques you want to learn and what you want from the martial arts form. You can try out both as a beginner and see which one suits you best.

Both karate vs. taekwondo these martial art forms are excellent, and you will learn a lot from them regardless of what you choose. 


Hello friends, I am Altiné I am SO excited you are here! I believe in YOUR POWER to transform the world through a healthy lifestyle and diet, and that physical activity and diet are EVERYTHING when it comes to your health and well-being. My goal is to offer you a simple and science-based approach to building muscle, losing fat, getting happy and healthy, and living a meaningful and impactful life for you and your loved ones. So YOU can look better, feel better, live better, and go make more impact. Let’s do it.

Recent Posts

Karate Vs. Taekwondo: Which One Is Better For You? The better martial arts for you depends on the techniques you want to learn and what you want from your art.