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Judo Vs Karate: Are You Judoka Or Karateka? Find Your Path!

White and Yellow Belts

Last Updated on May 18, 2024

In practically every way that martial arts can be evaluated, Judo and Karate are different. So what makes them different?

The difference is that Karate is mostly striking whereas Judo is predominantly grappling. This means that the frequency, intensity, and sensation of the martial arts are nearly all distinct.

The two most popular martial arts are undoubtedly Karate and Judo. Unfortunately, few people are familiar with the various forms of martial arts while many people confuse these two techniques as interchangeable.

In this article, we will help you choose which one you think suits you well. Let’s get started!

Main Differences Between Judo Vs Karate

The main differences between Judo VS Karate are:

  • Karate allows you to defend yourself, whereas Judo makes your opponent submit to you.
  • Karate makes use of the main body limbs, whereas Judo sources its strengths from the hips and legs.
  • Karate requires the use of multiple types of equipment, whereas Judo equipment is non-mandatory.
  • Karate is ideal in fights situated in wide areas, whereas Judo is more effective close-range.

Definitions, Specifications, And Benefits



Judo is another kind of martial art that originated in Japan. Jigoro Kano developed it in 1882. Although it began as a sport, in the later twentieth century, it was recognized as a soft martial art form.

Practitioners and Senseis differ greatly. Senseis are those who teach Judo while Practitioners are those who learn it. Keikogi is the traditional Japanese uniform that Judokas must wear while performing Judo.

Judo is now taught in a variety of countries. It is well-known for its grappling arts and throwing skills. The basic goal of Judo is to bring the opponent to the ground. To strike and thrust the opponent, one employs his hands and feet. Only when the opponent gets inert on the ground will one be declared the winner. 

Judo is a non-violent martial art. It entails defensive leg and arm blocking, striking, and kicking. It makes the best use of practically every portion of one's body.

Judo is more than a game, it also instructs kids on how to live. Judo has become an element of the physical education of many training centers, junior and high schools, and colleges.


  • Develops strength and flexibility
  • Enhances reaction time
  • Achieves excellent body coordination
  • Builds self-confidence
  • Makes you physically fit



Karate is a Japanese martial art form. It is a term created by combining two words: 'kara' and 'te’ which means “empty” and “hand”, therefore, Karate means "empty hand" when placed together.

Traditional Karate originated in East Asia, was systematized in Okinawa in the 17th century, and eventually made its way to Japan in the 1920s. Wado-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, Shotokan, and Goju-Ryu are the four prominent Karate styles in Japan today.

Karate is a hard martial art that is a confrontational style for a street fight in which you aggressively block your opponent's techniques and attack with your hands and legs. Kihon, Kata, and Kumite are the three types of techniques that a Karate practitioner must know.


  • Improves physical and mental health
  • Builds self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Enhances one’s energy and concentration level
  • Develops mastery of self-defense
  • Tones the body and helps build stamina

Japanese Martial Art History


Early Judo Students
Early Judo Students

Jiu-jitsu, a martial art in Japan focusing on locks, throws, and grappling, is a derivate of Judo. 

As Jiu-Jitsu's popularity faded in Japan, Jigoro Kano decided it would be a good idea to relaunch a comparable martial art with a slightly different concept and name. He renamed Jujutsu to Judo, dropping the Jutsu component, which refers to a set of physical skills, and replacing it with do, which means path. 

In this way, he established a more welcoming name that also reflected Judo's philosophical side. Ju Yoku Go O Seisu, which means "softness regulates hardness," is one of Judo's core concepts. It means the momentum can help the weaker martial artist overthrow the stronger one.



Gichin Funakoshi is credited as the originator of Shotokan Karate, the most widely practiced style of Karate. Karate was developed on the Ryukyu Islands by people seeking self-defense during a period when weapons were prohibited. Many people attribute Funakoshi with changing the meaning of the word to Empty Hand from its original meaning of Chinese Hand. 

Karate was greatly influenced by a Southern Chinese style of Kung Fu, the Fujian White Crane, which is why it was initially Chinese hand. Punches and kicks, open and closed palm strikes, blocks, and straight motions dominated all of the techniques from which it evolved.

In 2020, Karate was officially known as an Olympic Sport.

Comparing and Contrasting


These two martial arts both have different techniques.

Karate is a striking art, with only a few more traditional derivations incorporating grappling. Punches, kicks, and blocks made up 99 percent of Karate training. In a battle, a Karate fighter uses no circular motions, no hopping, and nothing showy about it. 

In learning Karate, remember that it's all about staying still while not fighting to save as much energy as possible, then quickly contracting all muscles at the moment of attack to deliver a quick, straight, and forceful strike.

Meanwhile, striking is non-existent in Judo style. Even while being furiously whipped onto the ground in a flash isn't exactly soft, it's called "the gentle method" for a reason. 

Judo combines balance and momentum to defeat opponents by grasping control spots on the body (typically the body parts with the least balance or the most potential to become good levers) and slamming them to the ground. It is not as fast-paced or as spectacular as Karate, yet it may be just as hazardous.

Body Parts Used 

The limbs, down to the primary joints, are the main body parts employed in Karate. On the hands, this indicates elbow to fists, and on the legs, knee to feet. All of the bones in these locations are utilized to strike (elbow strikes, shin strikes, kicks, punches, open-hand punches, and so on), but they aren't employed for anything else. 

Judo throws and locks are uncommon in a fight, thus the aforementioned body parts are used instead. 

In Judo, the situation is a little more complicated. While it's true that they utilize their arms and legs to tackle and wrestle their opponents, the force is primarily created by the hips and legs. 

The legs are used for their capacity to change the balance of both the attacker and the defender fast, following which the hips usually play a large role in the execution of the throws itself. 

Judo, like practically every other wrestling/grappling art or sport, focuses on full body and core strength rather than arm or leg strength, therefore we may call it a full-body sport, whereas Karate is mostly limb-focused.


Martial artists practice Judo and Karate on tatami flooring to avoid potential injury and reduce the force on joints and bones when falling. 

This is more crucial in Judo because a Judo class consists primarily of students bringing each other to the ground regularly. Head, shin, mouth, groin, and other forms of guards are required in more modern schools.

Karate schools, on the other hand, require these guards more frequently than Judo schools, because Karate is built on hitting and can easily harm certain body areas. 

Even in modern parts of the world, many Judo schools have limited or no equipment. It mostly depends on the Judo Senseis whether they feel as if a Judo practitioner should make use of equipment or not. However, both Karate and Judo need the usage of gi-s, which are traditional Japanese clothes worn by practically all martial arts in that region. 

Judo gi-s differ slightly from Karate gi-s. Judo requires more heavy stitching in specific areas and thicker collars to withstand the wear and tear of gripping the opponent's clothes to throw them.

To properly execute a throw-in Judo, it is necessary to hold the collar or the clothes at the hips, knees, or shoulders, which necessitates thicker gi-s. The basic concept of the clothing remains the same: a deep-necked shirt with long sleeves (either like a jacket or like a pullover), loose-fitting pants, and a belt to hold it all together.

Effectiveness In Real-Life Scenarios

Karate provides a variety of techniques that can be applied to a street fight. Although the blocks are often impractical, a Karateka's speed, spatial awareness, and strike strength will undoubtedly give them an advantage over the non-practitioner. 

A well-placed Karate front kick or punch can effectively end a fight nearly before it begins.

Judo is also very beneficial in street situations, and it is arguably more effective than Karate in a one-on-one fight. The reality of violence differs dramatically from what people believe and conduct in controlled settings such as class. 

In truth, fighting on the street or in a bar is quick and unpredictable, and they frequently end up being considerably closer range than most people believe. Judo shines in this area because it provides useful tactics for dealing with close-range situations. 

If someone strikes you in a bar, then you may have difficulty kicking them or even adopting the wide stance that is typical in Karate. With Judo, on the other hand, as soon as they get close enough for you to grab their arm or perhaps shirt, you may end it in a matter of seconds.

When there are several attackers, Judo does not perform well. 

Judo frequently ends up with you or your attackers on the ground which is the worst position to be in a street fight. Karate can keep you to stay on your feet and finish one or two opponents quickly to lessen the likelihood of being taken to the ground.

Knock-Out Point: Are you pro-Japanese or pro-Korean when it comes to learning self-defense techniques? We'll help you figure this out by offering you a comparative review on these two martial arts -- Judo vs Taekwondo.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is mixed martial arts?

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) include Boxing, Wrestling, competitive Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiujitsu, Karate, Muay Thai (Thai boxing), and other disciplines combined into one. Krav maga is not a component used by an MMA fighter in today’s combat sport.

How to tie a Judo belt?

The Judo belt (obi) is twice wrapped around the body, with the center directly below the navel. The ends should be of identical length in the front when you're completed.

How to tie a Karate belt?

Place the Karate belt's midpoint against your stomach. Right over left, cross the ends of your Karate belt. Pull the right end of the Karate belt taut beneath both strands. Tie the leftover right knot to complete the belt tie. Tighten the Karate belt and hang the ends symmetrically.


Now, you know that Karate and Judo are two fundamentally different styles of martial arts. Karate and Judo are now recognized by individuals of many cultures, ages, genders, and so on. Judo and Karate are widely accepted forms of martial arts. 

Martial arts were originally used for self-defense. However, they are used today for a variety of other reasons including mental and physical strength. 

What you would you choose? Write your comments below!

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