First of all, I insist on the ‘stand-up’ aspect of the comparison. I am not comparing Karate to ALL martial arts and combat sports. I am comparing it to STAND-UP martial arts and combat sports.
A ‘Stand-Up’ martial art and/or combat sport is one where you fight and defend yourself on your feet only and where the action stops when one hits the ground. Counter examples are Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, where most of the action happens on the ground.
Also mark the difference between martial art and sport! The goal of practicing a martial art is self-defense, self-improvement, discipline and inner peace. The goal of practicing a sport is participating in competitions! Both martial arts and sports bring health and of course lots of fun.
Here is how Karate is the most complete stand-up martial art and sport.
To prove my point, I will compare it to boxing, kick boxing and taekwondo.
For those living under a rock, Boxing consists exclusively in punching the opponent until he faints. You are allowed to hit the face and body. You’re not allowed to hit the back, the kidneys, the back of the head, or anything under the belt. Although there are many ways to punch, this sport does not allow kicks. And lastly, boxing is a sport only, not a martial art.
Then, you have kickboxing. Basically, you take all the punching from boxing and add the kicks. It makes for a great combat sport where the goal is still to hit your opponent until he faints. But this time, you’re allowed kicks! Pretty impressive, right? You can use all four limbs to strike in many different ways in this exciting fighting sport. And this time, you are allowed kicking the legs! Which may sound harsh, and it is. But it adds to the excitement of the spectacle. Even though this combat sport is more complete than boxing, it still is not a martial art.
Next is Taekwondo. Taekwondo uses punches and kicks in a very similar way to boxing and kickboxing. But just like boxing, you are not allowed hits under the belt, the back, the back of the head or neck. Some Taekwondo matches have for goal to knock out the opponent, which makes for a match a tad similar to kickboxing (minus the leg kicks), but some others have for goal to score as many points as you can in a given time. These matches allow for faster combinations of techniques (though not necessarily faster techniques). But with Taekwondo, that’s not all. In your training, you also learn how to defend yourself from holds and various attacks you may be victim to in the street. Taekwondo also has traditional forms which are a combination of movements one performs on its own, focusing on technical perfection and breathing. The self defense and the traditional aspect of Taekwondo make it not only a sport, but also a martial art.
Finally, my favorite, is Karate. In a WKF style fight, you can 1.punch, although punches are limited to straight punches and back fists. You can 2.kick with EVERY kick Taekwondo brings to the table (except the axe kick). Still, you are not allowed HITS under the belt. BUT, what you can do in Karate that you can’t do in neither boxing, kickboxing or Taekwondo, is 3.sweep and score on a taken down opponent! This alone makes it the most complete stand-up sport.Also, because the matches have for final goal to score more points than your opponent, all the focus is on speed and not impact power. What this allows is for strikes ANYWHERE above the belt, including the back and the back of the head! You’re allowed using all four limbs, you’re allowed scoring EVERYWHERE above the belt, AND you’re allowed going for the legs with the sweeps, which I repeat are exclusive to Karate.
The traditional art also teaches many grabs, holds, self defense, joint controls and locks, all the punches from boxing, leg kicks. Karate has many forms, like Taekwondo, called Kata, that one performs while focusing on technical precision and breathing. Kata are also more dynamic than Taekwondo forms, making them more interesting to watch and perform.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am saying Karate is the best martial art there is. In fact, I am saying that there is no better Martial Art, only better Martial Artists.
What I am saying is that if you want a stand-up Martial Art that is also a Sport and you want to be the most well rounded, go with Karate!
Last words for this post:
KUNG-FU IS AMAZING!!! But it is exclusively a martial art, and there are no Kung-Fu fighting competitions. If there are, please tell me 😉