SHARED by: Andrew Parra, Director of Tae Kwon Do
When researching a martial arts program for your child, parents often get confused about the difference between tae kwon do and karate. Naturally, people wonder which is “better.” The answer is this: both are excellent forms of martial arts training, each offering numerous benefits. However, knowing some basic information about the two sports might help you decide on which program suits your child best. Here are some fast facts to get you started:

  • The core principles of both tae kwon do and karate stress self-discipline as well as a high code of conduct.
  • Both have a sport competition aspect.
  • Tae kwon do emphasizes kicking techniques, while karate focuses on hand strikes.
  • Tae kwon do originated in Korea. Karate originated in Okinawa, Japan (with roots from hand fighting in China).
  • Prearranged sequences of techniques, generally known as forms, are referred to as poomsae in Tae kwon do, and kata in Karate
  • Tae kwon do is an Olympic sport. As of today, karate is not a part of the Olympic games.
  • The specific postures, stances, and movements differ between Tae kwon do and karate: Although, tae kwon do tends to favor fast kicking, the training is well-rounded and involves learning blocks, punches, open-handed strikes, take-downs, throws and joint locks. Conversely, while karate is known for hand techniques, it frequently includes knee and elbow strikes, and does use kicking techniques.

I recommend you find the “right fit” for your child as far as who you choose as their instructor, rather than boxing them into a particular martial art form. The right instructor will give you a rewarding experience in either tae kwon do, karate, judo, or any other form of martial art. It’s not going to matter otherwise.