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Judo vs Taekwondo: Japanese Against South Korean Fight Style

Last Updated on July 16, 2024

Are you planning on becoming a martial artist in the future, or do you want to learn how to defend yourself? There are many options to pick from, mainly if we include the hundreds of martial art variations available. But Judo and Taekwondo are the most popular options available.

Differentiating between the two combat sports can be a tad challenging for the common Joe. After all, they're both unarmed combat sports and art forms.

Which is better: Judo or Taekwondo?

Main Difference Between Judo vs. Taekwondo

The main difference between Judo vs. taekwondo are:

  • Judo is a grappling-based form of martial art, whereas taekwondo is a kicking-focused form of art.
  • Judo originated from Japan, whereas Taekwondo is from Korea.
  • Judo martial artists take longer to get a black belt, whereas taekwondo artists take a shorter amount of time to earn a black belt.
  • Judo does not include the use of gloves, whereas taekwondo includes the use of either close-fingered or open-fingered gloves.
  • Judo practitioners are referred to as Judokas, whereas taekwondo instructors are known as Sa bum-nim."

Taekwondo vs. Judo: What Are the Differences?

The main difference between Judo and Taekwondo arises from the origin of these two arts. Their road to global popularity is what helped shape these techniques while giving them an iconic image and feel. 

Therefore, if you want help determining the best option for you or need help determining if the martial arts class in your hometown is authentic, you need to learn more about their history. 

The Origin of Taekwondo

Taekwondo, also referred to as tae kwon do, is an exceptional martial art form whose main aim is to disarm an enemy using kicks. You will be fighting and blocking attacks from opponents using your legs during the training sessions.

This fighting style originated in Korea. The key figure in the unification of the arts who practiced in the country was Choi Hong Hi.

Nine original Korean martial art schools developed Taekwondo to unify the martial art practiced in Korea.

General Choi came up with the "Theory of Power," which is an effort to describe a powerful and effective martial art using Newtonian physics and rational thinking. The "Theory of Power" describes proper striking techniques and energy preservation. He also elaborates more on how speed is crucial to the power of your strike than the weight of the striking object.

This resulted in folks using their legs in most taekwondo techniques; after all, it has the largest muscles in the body. Therefore, it can have more effects since it travels faster than your arms. The fact that the leg is further away from the hips (center of rotation) means that it can attain top speeds more quickly than the arms.

Fun Fact: One popular martial art from Japan is often compared to the Korean fighting style. Learn about this by researching Taekwondo vs Karate for a more in-depth comparison between the two.

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The Origin of Judo

According to the International Judo Federation, Judo's primary goal is to throw down or take down opponents and restrain them using various techniques. Or, in some cases, force them to submit using a choke or a joint lock without throwing a single kick.

Judo is the official art from Asia that has an even more extended history than all the other modern martial arts.

This combat sport was developed at the end of the nineteenth century by Jigoro Kano. Jigoro developed Japanese martial art as a means of replacing Jiu-jitsu. 

It is characterized by joint locks, and hard body throws. The gis (clothing) used in Judo is thicker than the one used in Karate. Judo barely includes punching and kicking techniques. In fact, the ones in Judo are meant for range-checking and feigns.

Fun Fact: Judo is one of the popular types of martial arts renowned globally.

Knock-Out Point: Are you into high kicks or strong punches? You might want to check out our comparative article on two martial arts for more information -- Taekwondo vs Karate.

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Taekwondo vs. Judo: What Are the Key Similarities?

Despite both being effective self-defense tools with a wide range of variations, they have a few similarities to boot. One of the main similarities is that they were both founded in Asian nations - Judo is from Japan while Taekwondo is from Korea.

Most martial art variants originated from Asia.

Another similarity is that even though they are different, with one being grappling-focused and the other being kick-based, they both feature in the Olympics. Plus, they can both be used as a self-defense mechanism against an untrained individual.

Which Is Better: Judo or Taekwondo?

Another difference between Judo and Taekwondo is that a Judoka would win in a competition between Judo and Taekwondo competition. And that's because they have spent too much time training to get a black belt. 

A judoka can take down a Taekwondo practitioner without throwing a kick, and once on the ground, they will have a huge advantage. 


Generally, these techniques were designed and trained to help people protect themselves and their families. But most folks who wish they could defend their families using martial arts don't take the time to pick the right one and even learn it for a couple of reasons. 

When watching folks display their skills, Taekwondo may seem like the best form of self-defense. In my opinion, though, Judo is the better option. 

So, why do I prefer Judo? Unless the first punch results in a knockout, most fights end up being about grappling and wrestling tricks at the end. A huge percentage of the fights always end up in shin kicks, cloth grappling, knee hits, and close punches, which puts a Judoka at an advantage.

What a Judoka needs is to do is either force their opponents to the ground or let them do that to themselves. While spinning kicks can seem effective, your opponent will always stay down if you can do a proper Harai-Goshi throw.

Once a Judo practitioner has a taekwondo martial artist on the ground, it's only a matter of time before a Judoka chokes you or joint locks you into submission. 

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Are Judo and Taekwondo in the Olympics?

The difference between Judo and Taekwondo may be pretty obvious, but both of them have been in the Olympics for years. Karate was added to the competition recently. Even though martial art was the first sport to feature in the Olympic Games, most martial arts don't feature in the Olympics.

Wrestling has been part of the Olympics Game since 708 BCE., and "pxy" (clenched fist), a type of boxing, was introduced in 668 BCE.

Men's Judo was included in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic sport while the female's Judo contest debuted in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

According to the World Taekwondo Federation, this sport debuted in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games as a demonstration sport, and by the 2000 Sydney Olympics, it featured as a medal sport. Taekwondo is scored using a PSS (Protector and Scoring System) adopted in the London games.

Can You Do Takedowns or Flips in Taekwondo?

Traditionally, Taekwondo doesn't include flips or takedowns. It's primarily known for strikes and kicks. Most martial arts training dojos have gymnastics in their warm-ups; therefore, the idea of takedowns, flipping, and grappling is not new to some students.

Fortunately, certain schools have started incorporating various grappling techniques in style.

On the other hand, Judo is overflowing with takedowns, flips, and throws. In fact, some of its takedowns have been implemented in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Fun Fact: Many contemporary gymnasiums nowadays have dummies to improve grappling, kicking, and punching skills. Know more about these contraptions by researching the best grappling dummy models on the market today!

Can Taekwondo Be Effective in a Street Fight?

Although it's a sport, Taekwondo can come in handy in street fights, especially when dealing with an untrained individual, but it's not as effective as tai chi. Remember, it is a self-defense technique focused on physical safety, so while some of its methods can be used to attack, it is not the best option for fighting.

Taekwondo features a wide range of techniques, including footwork, blocking, striking, and kicking, which are ideal for evading and defending.


These skills can help protect you in street fights, but they're not designed for a particular scenario. Moreover, with street fighters, the combat is not choreographed. Therefore, anything goes. So a taekwondo practitioner may be at a disadvantage. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is More Effective -- Judo or Karate?

Karate is more effective than Judo since it's proactive and focused on instilling harm in the opponents. On the other hand, Judo is a defensive and softer martial art technique aimed at throwing you down. But whether you're on the ground or standing, Karate is more effective; after all, judo practitioners become less effective when on the ground.

Is Krav Maga a Judo or Karate Technique?

No, Krav maga is an effective fighting and self-defense system created by the Israeli security forces and their defense forces. It was sourced from Karate, aikido, Judo, wrestling, and boxing. This martial art is focused on real-world situations and is quite effective.

Is Kung Fu Similar to Judo?

No, the main difference between Kung Fu and Judo is that Judo is a modern Japanese martial art sport, while Kung Fu is a dedicated type of Chinese martial arts.


Even though they are both Asian techniques, they are quite different and effective self-defense systems. Judo is based on throwing you to the ground, while Taekwondo is more of a kick-based sport. But when it comes to one-on-one combat, I believe Judo is more effective as it involves pinning someone down and subduing the assailant.

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