When it comes to choosing a type of martial arts to study, some people have no idea what to choose. And, when facilities offer multiple types of martial arts to students, how do you know which one is the best to choose? With all the questions surrounding karate and mixed martial arts, we thought we would address the difference between the two today.

As an overview, karate is just one form of martial arts that was developed in Japan. However, MMA—or mixed martial arts—is a combination of several different martial arts types, which can include karate.


Karate is a word that was created out of two Japanese words: “Kara” meaning empty and “te” meaning hand. Essentially, karate is “empty hand.” People all over the world practice karate with their full attention and dedication, and it has been accepted as a privileged martial art form. All ages, genders, nationalities, and ability levels can learn some degree of karate, which may be one reason why it is so popular.

Karate is from Okinawa, Japan, and it depends heavily on proper hand-eye coordination. Each movement is sharp and precise, meaning that bodily control and discipline are essential to learning karate. In fact, one of the most basic principles behind this martial arts form is to harden the body as much as possible so as to withstand the impact of bricks, wood, and other materials. Some of the most important values of karate include self-defense, combat, and physical training. With precise striking techniques like punches, elbow strikes, and knee strikes, many people look to karate as being a foundational practice. Some sub-forms of karate have begun using joint-locking, grappling, and throwing.

Mixed Martial Arts

MMA, on the other hand, is a blend of several different martial arts forms. This can include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, karate, judo, Muay Thai, and others. While some people may think that MMA is relatively new, this is not the case. MMA traditions have been practiced for centuries, including the eras of the Greeks and Romans. In the 20th century, this martial arts style became popularized with Bruce Lee, the Chinese martial artist and actor. Today, MMA is practiced and closely watched all over the world.

It is defined as being a full-contact sport that requires two opponents to fight one another under the supervision of a referee. MMA has rules like any other sport, and when they are broken, penalties are applied for foul play. The objective of MMA is to knock out one’s opponent, which could be why this sport is so popular for people to watch.

MMA is also known as cage fighting or ultimate fighting, as the players are forced to fight in a “cage.”

Thrive Martial Arts

As you can see, there are quite a few differences between MMA and karate! The main thing to note is that karate is not about fighting an opponent. It is about self-defense and can vary in the level of contact needed. Conversely, MMA is a full-contact sport that involves trying to knock out the opponent! The focus in karate is on striking the opponent, while MMA is more centered on techniques that include grappling and throwing. These differences make watching karate matches versus MMA matches seriously different experiences!

If you have an interest in learning more about karate or enrolling in our karate classes, give us a call today! Thrive Martial Arts is Windsor’s premier choice when it comes to finding a karate and martial arts studio for all ages. Whether you want self-defense classes for yourself or you are hoping to find a martial arts class for your child, we can help. Reach out now and ask us about our class schedule!