It’s no secret that teaching martial arts to children is beneficial for a variety of reasons. Choosing to enroll a child in a martial arts program (or signing up for an adult class) is an easy choice, but a choice that’s not quite as easy as choosing the right establishment. There are plenty of martial arts dojos in the Windsor and Fort Collins area, so which one is right for you?

This is made all the more confusing by the fact that there are two common varieties of martial arts offered to children: karate and taekwondo. We’ve heard the same question time and time over — what’s the difference?

In this blog post, we’ll break down karate and taekwondo, and help you to know the essential facts.


Karate is primarily Japanese in origin, with influences from ancient Chinese martial arts. The earliest forms of karate formed around 1392 when Chinese traders moved to Okinawa, Japan. Their philosophies of martial arts were shared with the Japanese, and when the island was later occupied by a regime that banned all weapons, unarmed self-defense became more relevant than ever. Karate was honed more and more, and now, centuries later, it’s recognized as one of the most popular forms of martial arts.

Karate is a striking art, focusing primarily on punching, knee/elbow strikes, and open palm techniques. It means “empty hands,” and has its own forms, stances, and postures.


Taekwondo, rather than Chinese or Japanese, originated in Korea. Taekwondo owes its earliest origins to various styles of Korean martial arts which date back to ancient history, 2000 years ago. However, it wasn’t until the 50s that the term taekwondo was coined, and recognized as an official martial art style. Taekwondo is less than a century old, but the techniques that it’s made up of pre-date Japanese karate by more than half a century.

The biggest differentiator between karate and taekwondo is that the latter puts much more emphasis on kicking and leg strikes. Make no mistake; punches, elbow strikes, and palm techniques are still a fundamental aspect of taekwondo, but it makes much more use of your legs than karate does. The name itself reflects this — it means “the way of the foot and fist.”

The Same Thing But Different

With all this being said, you must have a pretty solid understanding of the differences between taekwondo and karate, right? Think again.

While taekwondo and karate are, in fact, separate disciplines that have distinct origins and unique combat styles, the definition of “karate” has been somewhat muddled in America. Karate, in the context of American establishments, is often used as a stand-in word for “martial arts,” and as a result, you’ll often find karate establishments that do, in fact, teach taekwondo. At Thrive Martial Arts in Fort Collins and Windsor, we’re somewhat guilty of this; partnered with ATA (American Taekwondo Association), we teach taekwondo, but refer to our children’s program as “Karate Kids.”

Think of it like squares and rectangles. A square is technically a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t a square. In the same way, a karate establishment might actually teach taekwondo, but you won’t find a taekwondo dojo that teaches karate.

Start Learning Martial Arts Today

At the end of the day, both taekwondo and karate are both great viable options for a martial arts education. At Thrive Martial Arts in Windsor and Fort Collins, we teach quality taekwondo, and help both children adults with self-defense and self-discipline. The best part is that you can try it for free! Sign up for a free trial today.