Are you trying to decide between Karate and Taekwondo?  There are so may differences, but many similarities as well!   When considering Karate or Taekwondo, here are some things to keep in mind:

Taekwondo is generally geared for sport – in that competition sparring is its primary focus.
Karate, although also for sport, tends to be more ’rounded’ in that Karate, is perhaps more thought of as a lifestyle – and there is perhaps more focus on not only the fighting aspect, but the historical meeting and cultural significance. I’m not saying Taekwondo is without historical context, but instead with Karate – more time is dedicated to this subject.

In Karate, students learn to use all parts of their bodies as potential weapons – where as in Taekwondo, students learn to kick (legs) only, with some secondary focus on using hands, but only as a 2nd (and last) option.

Practicality – Karate (depending on what style you learn), was likely born from a desire to protect one’s self. Taekwondo, because it’s more geared towards controlled sport-like matches, is really focused on performance but only within the context of tournament rules.

Taekwondo tends to be more “flashy” in that excellent taekwondo practitioners learn things like jumping round house kicks, etc. Since Karate is born of self-defense, little time is spent focusing on techniques (like jumping round hour kicks), that are likely to NOT be practical in a ‘real’ confrontation.

Karate class tends to be more “structured” or rigid (some rules students must follow) – this is born largely from Japanese culture, in which roles are often very well defined. Taekwondo is more like going to the boxing gym (although perhaps a little more regimented than that, as students do bow, etc.) Karate is definitely more structured through.

Diversity – Generally there are 5 major style of Taekwondo. Karate on the other hand has 10’s of styles, and sub-styles under those styles.

Both Karate and Taekwondo use a belt ranking system. These systems vary greatly between schools. There is no “standard” in this regard.

“Older” people tend to gravitate towards Karate, as leg flexibility is a stronger requirement in Taekwondo and this can be difficult to achieve when you’re older. For kids – it can go either way. There are lots of kids in both Karate and Taekwondo.

Here is an interesting comparison chart of the two:

Happy Training!
Sensei Pennell