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Comparing Karate To Kickboxing

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Comparing Karate To Kickboxing

Both Karate and Kickboxing are striking arts, and are quite popular worldwide. Both skills use a mix of punches and kick to defeat and incapacitate opponents quickly. While both Karate and Kickboxing use striking arts, they are also different from one another.

Karate and Kickboxing share different technical aspects, philosophies and rules and equipment. In fact, the two are more different than they are the same.

Which Do You Choose?

Which art you choose to learn is all dependent on your personal needs and goals. If you’re looking for a sport to enjoy, you may wish to pursue kickboxing. If you’re looking for self-defence, you could lean more toward Karate. It comes down to what you are hoping to achieve by partaking in one of these martial arts. They both can give you a great workout, but each has its own advantages and toolsets you’ll pick up along the way.

What Similarities Do Karate and Kickboxing Share?

The main similarity between these two martial arts is their striking style. Combining various punches and kicks to perform decisive impacts to defeat opponents, each style relies on a similar retinue of moves.

In competition and training, takedowns, throws, grappling and fighting while on the ground is all prohibited, albeit with some occasional exceptions.

What Are the Main Differences?


Karate places a strong emphasis on Philosophy and the life benefits of learning the art. There is a strong focus on peace and meditation, building harmony between body and mind. Karate does not put conflict first, but secondary. Karate is primarily a self-defence art to be used only when time calls for it. Karate strikes aim for quick, efficient, brisk attacks to quickly defeat an opponent.

Kickboxing is a more aggressive martial art that still maintains a self-defence focus. Kickboxing strikes are powered by maximum force for heavy damage to the opponent. Kickboxing teaches a variety of different counter-attacks as well.


Both Karate and Kickboxing teach a variety of different strikes and techniques that are fine during training but prohibited in competition. In Karate, this is mainly for certain kicks, and knee and elbow strikes in Kickboxing.

Karate is a swift and precise martial art, where techniques focus on where to strike and how best to incapacitate. Karate is not about power, though strikes can have a ton of force behind them. Karate is made up of strict formwork and fluid movement. The karate technique is meant to provide self-defence and counter methods to an opponent’s attacks.

Kickboxing emphasizes the power behind each strike to provide a devastating impact on opponents. Every strike is powered by muscular force and body momentum. There is a lot of forward movement, hip rotation and footwork in Kickboxing. It’s all about the attack!


Karate and Kickboxing offer varying degrees of body contact when in combat. While Karate teaches light contact with precise location, Kickboxing is a full-contact art designed to maximize attack power. Kickboxing also allows low kicks, which are forbidden in Karate.

When it comes to scoring during competition, for Kickboxing the entire performance is used to determine the score. For Karate, you get points for distinct techniques.

Due to these differences, kickboxing is easier to transition to MMA, whereas Karate can have a bit of a harder time. In fact, Kickboxing is more like MMA than Karate!


Karate is fairly limited in any additional equipment needed. All Karate students wear the traditional Gi, which also includes the coloured belt to denote rank – white being new students and black being the highest level. The intermediary colour order varies from dojo to dojo.

Kickboxing has no uniform, other than shorts, plus gloves during combat training.

Both require mouthguards during competition.

The Self-Defense Advantage

The good news is, is that either Karate or Kickboxing is great for self-defence. Kickboxing provides more power, which can quickly prevent attackers from continuing the fight after a successful counter. But, Karate teaches how to avoid damage, provide counters, and ways to quickly end a fight. The quicker a Karate student can end a fight, the less damage they can receive, but also inflict.


Which martial art you choose to participate in really depends on your end goals. Both provide great physical activity and self-defence skills. If you are wanting a more philosophical approach that combines valuable life skills with self-defence and technique training, then Karate is more up your alley. Especially if you are quick and light with your movements. If you want to develop powerful strikes, focus on Kickboxing. This is especially true if you have well-developed muscle strength and size. It’s all what you personally want to achieve through martial arts training. You can’t go wrong with either Karate or Kickboxing.

Looking to join a welcoming and fun dojo? The Powerhouse Martial Arts provide karate classes for all ages and kickboxing classes that will help you reach your goals.

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