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Karate vs taekwondo

Intro

During the latter half of the last century, the term karate was used interchangeably with the term taekwondo. But that has changed since the beginning of the new century. Over the last few decades, taekwondo has become the most popular martial art in the world. However, that may soon change as karate is poised for a resurgence.

Confusion of the two terms

Karate is the Japanese term for martial arts whose primary focus is empty hand fighting, but the term has become the worldwide generic name for any of the kicking and punching martial arts.

For decades after World War II, karate was the first name people probably thought of when asked to name a martial art since it was the name most seen in magazine ads or heard in television shows or movies. It was the term used by the thousands of military personnel returning from serving in East Asia during and after World War II and the Korean War. Since the term taekwondo did not exist until 1955, it was not commonly known. For decades, taekwondo was even called Korean karate.

During most of the last half of the last century, if you told people you were taking taekwondo lessons, they did not know what you were talking about, so it was easier just to say you were taking karate lessons. For decades, many taekwondo schools had street signs that said they were karate schools since the public would not know what the school taught if they put taekwondo on the sign.

Popularity of the two arts

Over the last few decades, taekwondo has become so popular, partially due to it becoming an Olympic sport, that it may now even be the first martial art people think of when asked to name a martial art. Although, due to its entertainment popularity and the publicity it has gotten over the last few years, MMA may now be the one they name.

Since taekwondo has evolved into a sort of a Korean river dance where the fighters bounce around and kick each other while their arms hang down at their sides, it is losing some of its appeal. Since karate has so many styles to choose from that use hands, lower kicks, sweeps, throws, and even some grappling to fight and it will be an official sport in the 2020 Olympics, there will probably be a resurgence of interest and participation in it and thus a growth in its popularity and commercialism.

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