Martial Arts Monday: Difference between Taekwondo and Karate

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When I was a colored belt, my instructor would often ask the class, “What style of karate do we practice?” Taekwondo was definitely NOT the answer he was looking for. The right answer? “We don’t practice karate; we practice taekwondo.”

Taekwondo IS its own martial art now, but it hasn’t always been that way. Taekwondo started as shotokan karate, an Okinawan martial art that had spread to Japan and then on to Korea. However, beginning with its naming in 1955, taekwondo evolved along distinctly Korean lines,  with masters and instructors incorporating techniques from native Korean arts like taekkyon and subak.

So, what are the differences? Karate is Okinawan and Japanese, and emphasizes hand techniques. Taekwondo is Korean, and emphasizes kicking. Both are striking arts that emphasize power, mobility, and keeping the fight standing. They are different, but much closer to each other than to grappling arts like judo.

Nathan W. Wheatley
4th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

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Posted on August 12, 2013, in benefits, martial arts monday. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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