Karate and kickboxing are two of the most popular martial arts. Read the article below to learn the difference between karate and kickboxing.

Difference Between Karate & Kickboxing

Asian martial arts can be considered as the greatest export to the West from the East, along with Yoga, Ayurveda, and Asians. From the time Bruce Lee burst into the scene with his ‘Enter the Dragon’, there has been no looking back. Suddenly, the West realized that the spiritual East could teach it a thing or two about combat, and a deadly one at that. However, long before Bruce Lee crash landed in western popular consciousness, with his iconic movie, various masters of the art had begun to set up camps that taught these skills. In Asia, martial arts had been practiced for centuries and it has less to do with spirituality, than its use as a self-defense tactic. Over the years, with their wide spread popularity, all the great martial arts have undergone a significant amount of metamorphosis. There is a birth of new styles and techniques that challenge skill and endurance. To decide which martial art to learn is like being in a store, where you are spoilt for choice. However, knowing the difference between them is a great way to get started. Once you know the difference, you can go forward with your preference, as to what attracts you the most. To help you choose between karate and kickboxing, we have listed their differences in the lines that follow.
Karate & Kickboxing Differences
Kick Boxing Styles
  • Adithada (Indian boxing) – Uses the knee, elbow and forehead strikes.
  • Lethwei (Burmese boxing) – Emphasis is more on knee and elbow strikes and head butt. In this, any part of the body can be used to strike.
  • Pradal Serey (Khmer "Cambodian" kickboxing) – The elbow techniques are more commonly used.
  • Muay Thai (Thai boxing) – Emphasis more on knee and elbow strikes.
  • Muay Boran (Ancient boxing) – Uses the head butt.
  • Japanese Kickboxing – Uses knee and elbow strikes, but with a different point system.
  • American Kickboxing – No kicking is allowed below the waist.
  • Savate (French boxing) – This style allows the use of shoes.
  • Sanshou (Sanda) (Chinese boxing) – Relies on takedowns and throws and the use of arms and legs to strike.
  • Shoot Boxing – This Japanese-style kickboxing allows throwing and submission, while standing.
  • Yaw-Yan (Filipino Kickboxing) – It uses the hip torque motion and downward-cutting kicks.
  • Russian Kickboxing – Uses throws and takedowns, along with other techniques.
  • Freestyle Kickboxing – Uses the techniques of Muay Thai, Boxing, and Karate.  
Karate Styles
There are three levels in karate training - kihon (basics or fundamentals), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring).
  • Different styles place a different importance on kihon.
  • It is a prearranged drill in smaller groups or in pairs.
  • It can be unison of a technique or a combination of techniques.
  • It means ‘shape’ or ‘model’.
  • Represents the various attack and defense postures.
  • Postures are based on combat applications.
  • The stances are low and wide.
  • Emphasis is given on the development of leg strength, correct posture, and gracefulness.
  • The arm movements are vigorous and so there is development of the upper body strength.
  • There is a great variety of movements and difficulty level.
  • Different movements have multiple interpretations and applications. As a result, kata is very difficult to interpret.
  • Accuracy of the movements depends on the absence of missteps, correct beginning, crispness and smoothness, and the speed and power. The confidence and knowledge of the application is also taken into consideration.
  • Sparring is known as kumite, which means “meeting of hands”.
  • It is both a sport and self-defense training.
  • The levels of contact vary.
  • There are several variations in contact karate, such as the knockdown karate, which uses the full power techniques or using light or semi contact.
  • In another variation called the structured kumite, the movements are based on one striking and the other blocking. The end technique is Hito Tsuki.
  • In free sparring, the movements are based on free choice of scoring techniques, which depends on the style, takedowns, and sweeps. It is performed in a marked area.

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