Taekwondo vs. Karate, Which Is Right For You?


Taekwondo and Karate are both East Asian martial arts now taught all around the world. Taekwondo comes from Korea and Karate comes from the Japanese island of Okinawa.

Since 2000, a form of Taekwondo sparring called Gyeorugi has been an Olympic event. Two Karate events, Kata and Kumite will be featured for the first time in the 2020 Olympics.

Both martial arts are offered by schools in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Techniques & Style

Taekwondo and Karate are both considered hard or external styles of martial arts. This means that training has a heavy focus on physical conditioning, and in self-defense usage, responding to force with force.

Taekwondo emphasizes kicks more than hand techniques. Karate is the opposite. This distinction is clear when you look at tournaments of each. Taekwondo competitions give participants more points for a kick than a punch, whereas kicks and punches are scored equally in Karate matches.

This emphasis on kicks puts Taekwondo on the more tournament and performance side of martial arts. That having been said, Karate taught at J.R. Roy Martial Arts includes both performance style and sparring techniques. Students begin with basic kicks but to reach black belt must become proficient in flying, spinning, and jumping kicks, like those taught by Taekwondo schools.

Regarding self-defense applications, Karate teaches more hand techniques and throws than does Taewkondo. J.R. Roy’s Karate curriculum has a whole branch dedicated to self-defense techniques and drills. One must learn new techniques for each new rank and eventually master advanced joint locks and takedowns.

How to Decide?

Karate, Taekwondo, or any martial art will develop your strength, confidence, and discipline.

Both arts will teach you performance sequences called poomse in Taekwondo or kata in Karate. They also will teach you how to compete in their respective tournaments and how to respond in self defense situations.

Much more important than the martial art you choose are the teachers that guide your training and the peers that help you grow.

We suggest that you try any and every martial arts school available to you until you find a fit. Don’t limit yourself to the styles you heard were the coolest or most effective for fighting; stay open to new possibilities.

J.R. Roy Martial Arts School offers a complete martial arts system of Karate, Modern Arnis, Tai Chi, and Bagua Zhang. Whether you are interested in self defense, fitness, self mastery or spiritual development, we have a program for you.

Our school has classes most days and is open for you to come watch or even participate in a free trial class.

Check out our schedule here then contact us so we can help you find the best class for you.

Relevant Testimonial

I’ve done a few martial arts over 30 years, starting with Shotokan Karate in 1980. For the last few years I’ve attended J. R. Roy’s Modern Arnis program, and sampled the studio’s other arts. In the late 1980s I attended one of the world’s top Tae Kwon Do schools, the Jae Hun Kim Taekwon-do Institute, which has since grown from that original school to over 40 worldwide. I still enjoy Tae Kwon Do kicks. The J. R. Roy Studio has taught me how much internal art and effective street techniques I lacked in my practice. I’ve seen a popular new association of Tae Kwon Do schools that seems even less effective in these ways.

I could write a small book about all I’ve learned at J.R.Roy’s, but I’ll give just two examples. (1) The emphasis on proper alignment of the spine unleashes new vigor and a feeling of flow. (2) Tae Kwon Do kicks may have more power than Karate’s but at the cost of being vulnerable to punches, which are not allowed to the head in Tae Kwon Do competitions but expect them on the street–and J.R.Roy’s kicks obey the principles of power more than I’ve seen in any other karate schools. Being in my late 50s, the sun is setting on my Tae Kwon Do kicks, yet the complete and diverse internal and external styles offered at J.R.Roy’s will enable me to practice martial arts well into my old age.  

~Rob Laporte