What is more popular Karate or Taekwondo in the World?

What is more popular Karate or Taekwondo in the world? taekwondoking
What is more popular Karate or Taekwondo in the world?

As a 3rd Dan black belt, national and international Taekwondo competitor, coach, and referee, the question of “Karate vs. Taekwondo” is a familiar one. Both martial arts boast rich traditions and passionate followings, but which reigns supreme in the realm of popularity? Karate or Taekwondo? Here’s a breakdown to help you understand their unique strengths and global appeal.

Karate: A Legacy of Discipline and Power

Deep-Rooted History: 

Karate’s origins trace back centuries to the Ryukyu Kingdom (present-day Okinawa, Japan). Its emphasis on self-discipline and powerful strikes resonates with many practitioners.

Diverse Styles: 

From the dynamic kicks of Shotokan to the flowing movements of Shorin-Ryu, Karate offers a variety of styles to suit different preferences.

Cultural Significance: 

Karate holds a special place in Japanese culture, influencing popular media and fostering a strong sense of tradition among practitioners.

Taekwondo: The Dynamic Dance of Kicks and Speed

Modern Marvel: 

Developed in the mid-20th century, Taekwondo is a more recent martial art, but its focus on fast kicks and dynamic movements has propelled it to global popularity.

Olympic Recognition: 

Taekwondo’s inclusion in the Olympic Games since 2000 has significantly boosted its profile and attracted a new generation of enthusiasts.

Standardized System: 

The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) establishes a unified set of rules and competition formats, making it easier to organize international tournaments and track athlete development.

The Popularity Pendulum: A Shifting Landscape

While both Karate and Taekwondo enjoy widespread popularity, their reach can vary depending on region and cultural influence.

  • Karate: Karate might hold a stronger presence in its birthplace, Japan, and other parts of Asia due to its historical and cultural significance.
  • Taekwondo: Taekwondo’s Olympic inclusion and standardized system have arguably made it more accessible globally, attracting a wider audience.

However, popularity is a dynamic concept. Both Karate and Taekwondo continue to evolve, attracting new students through innovative teaching methods and a growing emphasis on self-defense applications beyond sport.

Beyond the Numbers: Finding Your Perfect Fit

Ultimately, the “better” martial art is subjective. Both Karate and Taekwondo offer unique benefits and philosophies. The best choice depends on your individual goals, preferences, and learning style.

Here’s my advice, based on my experience in Taekwondo:

  • Research: Explore both Karate and Taekwondo styles, their philosophies, and training methods.
  • Find a Reputable School: Look for a dojang with qualified instructors who prioritize safety, proper technique, and a supportive learning environment.
  • Try a Class: Most dojangs offer introductory classes. Take advantage of this opportunity to experience the physical demands and teaching style firsthand.

Which sport is better Taekwondo or Karate?

It’s important to remember that the “better” sport is subjective and depends on individual preferences and goals. Taekwondo is known for its quick and powerful kicks, while Karate focuses on strong punches and open-hand strikes. Consider what aspects of martial arts are most important to you and what you hope to achieve through your training when deciding which sport is best for you.

Is Taekwondo a popular sport?

Yes, Taekwondo is a popular sport. Here’s why:

  • Widely practiced: It’s estimated to be the most practiced martial art globally, with millions participating.
  • Olympic sport: Since 2000, Taekwondo has been a medal sport in the Summer Olympics.
  • International recognition: Over 200 countries have Taekwondo organizations, showcasing its global reach.

While participation might vary by region, Taekwondo’s presence in the Olympics and its status as the most practiced martial art solidify its popularity.

How many countries use Karate?

Karate is practiced in over 190 countries worldwide, making it one of the most widely practiced martial arts in the world. Its popularity and reach have made it a truly global sport and discipline.

Is Karate a sport in America?

Yes, Karate is a sport in America. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Organized Competitions: Numerous organizations in the US hold Karate competitions, like USA Sport Karate (USASK) and various regional associations.
  • Wide Range of Styles: Different Karate styles with varying competition rules exist, offering options for practitioners.
  • Not in the Olympics: While popular as a sport, Karate is currently not included in the Olympic Games.

So, while not on the Olympic scene, Karate enjoys a strong presence as a competitive sport in the United States.

How many people do Taekwondo in the US?

There isn’t a definitive number on how many people practice Taekwondo in the US, but here’s some information to give you an idea:

  • Estimates: It’s estimated there are around 3,500 Taekwondo clubs and roughly 7 million people practicing Taekwondo in the US. (Source: [asia matters for America ON asiamattersforamerica.org])
  • Industry Reports: Martial arts industry reports might offer participation estimates within the US. You can search for reports from reputable organizations.

While an exact figure is elusive, these points suggest Taekwondo has a significant presence in the US.

What is the hardest black belt to get?

It’s important to understand that both Taekwondo and Karate present their own set of challenges when working towards a black belt. In Taekwondo, practitioners must excel in complex kicking techniques, sparring, and forms.

Meanwhile, Karate demands a strong emphasis on precise and powerful strikes, as well as the ability to defend against attackers. Ultimately, the difficulty of obtaining a black belt in either discipline hinges on the individual’s dedication, perseverance, and commitment to mastering the necessary skills and techniques.

Embrace the Journey, Not the Destination

Whether you choose the focused strikes of Karate or the dynamic kicks of Taekwondo, the true victory lies in the dedication you bring to your training. With hard work, discipline, and a passion for martial arts, you can excel on your chosen path and discover the empowering world of self-improvement that both Karate and Taekwondo offer.

Ehatasamul Alom, 3rd Dan Black Belt & Taekwondo Enthusiast

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Tae Kwon Do or Karate better?

There’s no single “better” choice between Tae Kwon Do and Karate. Both are fantastic martial arts with their strengths:

Tae Kwon Do:

  • Kicking Emphasis: Offers a dynamic and powerful kicking style.
  • Fitness Benefits: Excellent workout that builds strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health.
  • Structured Learning: Clear progressions help students develop skills methodically.


  • More Balanced: Often incorporates a wider range of techniques, including punches, throws, and blocks.
  • Mental Discipline: Strong focus on respect, focus, and self-control.
  • Style Variety: Many Karate styles exist, offering options for different preferences.

The best choice depends on you!

Consider your goals:

  • Kicking focus? Go for Tae Kwon Do.
  • Well-rounded approach? Karate might be a better fit.

Ultimately, try introductory classes in both and see which one resonates more with you and your instructor’s teaching style.

Judo or Taekwondo for self-defense?

When you’re deciding which martial art to learn for self-defense, it’s important to know the distinctions between Judo and Taekwondo. Judo emphasizes grappling and throwing techniques, while Taekwondo focuses on striking and kicking. Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal preference and the specific self-defense skills you want to develop. Both martial arts have their strengths and can be effective in different situations.

Can Taekwondo beat Judo?

In a real-world self-defense scenario, Judo generally has the upper hand against Taekwondo. However, the outcome can depend on several factors:

  • Individual Skill: A highly skilled Taekwondo fighter with good timing and awareness might land a decisive kick before getting close enough for a Judo throw.
  • Surprise Element: If a Taekwondo practitioner can maintain distance and land a surprise kick, it could turn the tide.


While upsets can happen, Judo’s grappling focus gives it a significant advantage in most situations.

Can Judo be used for self-defense?

Yes, Judo can be very effective for self-defense. It focuses on throws and grappling techniques that can quickly subdue an attacker, regardless of size difference. Judo also emphasizes utilizing the attacker’s momentum against them, making it a practical option for self-defense situations.

Can Judo be used in MMA?

Yes, Judo throws and grappling techniques are very useful in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Many MMA fighters have a Judo background, and Judo skills are a major asset in the clinch (close-quarters grappling) phase of MMA fights.

Is it better to learn Judo or Karate?

The best martial arts style for you depends on your personal goals and preferences. Judo emphasizes throws and grappling techniques, while Karate focuses on striking and self-defense. Consider what you want to achieve with martial arts training and which style aligns best with your objectives. Also, factors such as the availability of reputable instructors and training facilities in your area may influence your decision.

Is Judo useful in a real fight?

Judo can be very useful in a real fight, but with some limitations:

  • Throws effective: Judo’s throws can be very effective for quickly taking down an attacker, especially if you can get them off-balance.
  • Grappling control: Judo’s grappling skills allow you to control an attacker on the ground, potentially giving you time to escape or call for help.
  • Limited striking: Judo focuses primarily on throws and grappling, and doesn’t extensively train punches, kicks, or knees. This can be a disadvantage if the fight stays on its feet.
  • Surface awareness needed: Judo throws rely on taking your opponent down. If you’re fighting on uneven terrain or a slippery surface, throws might be risky.

Overall, Judo’s throws and grappling skills can be a valuable asset in a real fight, but it’s recommended to be aware of its limitations and potentially consider complementary training in striking techniques for a more well-rounded self-defense approach.

Which is better Judo or Kung Fu?

When comparing Judo and Kung Fu, it’s important to consider the differences in techniques, training methods, and philosophies. Judo focuses on throws and grappling techniques, while Kung Fu incorporates a wide range of martial arts styles and techniques. The best choice depends on your personal preferences and goals, as both disciplines have their unique benefits and strengths. It’s important to try both and see which one resonates with you the most.

Is Karate or Kung Fu better?

When comparing Karate and Kung Fu, it’s important to consider the specific goals and preferences of the individual. Both martial arts have unique techniques, philosophies, and training methods. Karate emphasizes powerful strikes and linear movements, while Kung Fu focuses on fluid and circular movements.

Ultimately, the “better” option depends on the individual’s personal goals and which style resonates with them the most. It’s important to try out both and see which one aligns best with your preferences and objectives.

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