Should You Take Up Karate or Tae Kwon Do
What is the Difference?
General Choi Hong Hi, 10th Degree, the Founder of Tae Kwon Do was a 2nd degree black belt as he spent some time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and at this time he was practicing Shotokan Karate. There are archives that show the Shotokan Forms and they are very similar to the forms that we do today in Tae Kwon Do but the General has adapted them.
The two styles, however are very different, Shotokan karate stances are closer to the ground and the stances are very long, whilst Tae Kwon Do stances are shorter and have to be as it was made into a dynamic, balletic martial art with some spectacular jumps. It can take up to four years to achieve a first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, whilst the various karate-type styles vary from four to sometimes seven years.
There is a high drop-out rate within the traditional martial arts today, partly because there is so much choice within the sports and leisure industry, and people are not prepared to persevere with one martial art but want to do everything and master nothing. In light of this both tae kwon do and karate organizations are feeling the effects.
Schools are thus adapting their syllabi and their clubs generally and are having to modernize in order to survive. Some organizations offer several martial arts under one roof, like kick boxing, for example, if they have their own premises, in order to get the membership in. However, they fail to realise that the traditional martial arts offer not just combat but patterns and technique that are fundamental in learning fighting and self-defence technique. My tae kwon do club in the Swansea area offers weapon forms too and self-defence.