There are many types of martial arts in the world, comparable to the various kinds of pizza! There are tons of different styles and types. Of course, some are more common than others – Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, etc. In terms of popularity, Karate and Judo are the most widely spread globally.
Often though, people confuse and mix up Karate and Judo, thinking they are one in the same. Below, we go over the two different martial arts and try to break them down so it’s easier to tell them apart.
A quick starting point is that Karate is a striking art, as opposed to Judo’s grappling nature. This leads to two martial art styles that are quite different from each other.
What is Karate
Karate originates in Okinawa, Japan, when locals of the Ryuku Islands required a need to defend themselves during a weapons ban occupation. Karate is influenced by Chinese Kung Fu, specifically Fujian White Crane Style. Over its development, Karate became its own distinct martial art made up of striking punches and kicks using open and closed palms, blocks, and straight rigid movements.
What is Judo
Judo is an off-shoot of Jiu-jitsu, having emerged after Jiu-jitsu began to decline in popularity and respect. Jigoro Kano founded Judo, which is similar to its parent form but has a more welcoming and philosophical side. One of Judo’s tenants is “softness controls hardness” which means the weak can defeat stronger opponents through momentum.
Karate is built upon strikes with the fist, open palm, kicks and blocks. Karate is made of fluid, linear movements focusing on quick powerful strikes.
Judo is all about grappling with opponents. Using a combination of balance and momentum, Judo students grab control points to use as leverage and slam their opponents to the ground. Judo is not as flashy or fast-paced as Karate but can be just as powerful.
Both martial arts derive little use of extra equipment. Traditionally, both Karate and Judo are unarmed martial arts. In some modern schools, protective guards may be used (head, shin, mouth, etc) to prevent injury during training. One other similarity between the two schools is the use of gi-s, the traditional Japanese clothing found in pretty much every Japanese martial art. Judo gi-s use heavier stitching to prevent wear and tear during grabs, but they are otherwise the same – deep-neck, long sleeves, loose-fitting pants and a belt.
Which is Better for Real-Life Scenarios
Karate is a strong self-defence art. The techniques and skills learned in a Karate dojo are effective for self-defence in a real-world situation, as a Karateka builds upon agility, spatial awareness, discipline and control through their training. The power of a Karate strike can end a fight with just one properly executed punch or kick. Karate can be great at defending against multiple attackers, but in close-range combat, it may be hard for a Karate student to get set up in the right stance or perform most kicking strikes.
Judo can also be effective in self-defence situations, especially in one-on-one fights. Real fights are not the same as controlled scenarios in the dojo, often being unpredictable and quite fast. Plus, they can be in close-range. With judo’s grappling techniques, a judo student can effectively end a close-range encounter with a proper grab and floor slam. Judo excels in one-on-one, but not so much for multiple attackers.
Both Karate and Judo are highly effective martial arts skills, each with their own pros and cons and differences from each other. The key difference is that Karate relies on powerful and fast strikes and Judo relies on grappling the opponent and slamming them onto the ground.
If you are interested in learning Karate, The Powerhouse Martial Arts has Karate classes for adults of any age and skill level.