Recently, I was asked what is the difference between Karate, Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do. I was a little amused at this question because as a martial arts enthusiast, It is easy to forget that for most people when they hear these terms they just think of uniformed individuals, lined up counting out punches in unison- not considering the difference between them. In hopes of awakening a curiosity in your mind about the world of traditional martial arts, I figured I’d take this opportunity to provide my definition of each.
Karate is a system of fighting that comes from Japan. Karate is translated as “empty hand” and most techniques involve the use of the hands to defend and attack. Kicks are also used. Students develop power using forms that get more complex as they advance. Forms training develops focus, balance and power using stances, and arm movements.
Tae Kwon Do can be translated as “Foot Fist Way”. It is a Korean martial art, famed for its high kicking techniques. Tae Kwon Do practitioners develop their kicking abilities through form training, and stretching techniques. In the beginning, students keep opponents at long range.
Kung Fu refers to many of the martial arts styles from China. Kung Fu, translated as “Hard work”, is commonly used in reference to different styles- Wushu, Shaolin, and Wing Tsun to name a few. Each has its own qualities that makes it unique.
From Aikido to Zulu stick fighting, there are hundreds of unique martial arts, each with its own traditions, and ideals. The definitions I provided above are a generalized, and barely scratch the surface of what each martial art is really about. I encourage you to get involved in a martial art yourself so that you can experience the many benefits they have to offer.