Is Taekwondo Better Than Kung Fu?

taekwondo vs kung fu

Kung fu is better than Taekwondo as it is more effective for self-defense and real-world fighting situation. Many kung fu forms are more adaptable to different situations and are more effective in a real fight compared to taekwondo.

By your question, I believe you are trying to know which “fighting style” is better and more effective.

But if that is not what you are looking for, let’s do a quick comparison here concerning other aspects of the arts.

  • Fitness – Taekwondo is better
  • Mental strength – Even (depending on the individual and the school you train in)
  • Self-defense – Kung fu is better (depending on the style of Kung Fu).
  • MMA – Taekwondo is slightly better.

Now, let’s properly get back to the debate of which fighting style is superior.

Taekwondo vs Kung Fu, Who Would Win?

Kung fu would defeat taekwondo due to its more practical techniques for real-world application. However, both kung fu and taekwondo are highly respected and each is capable of taking down the other.

Although Taekwondo is an effective martial art, there are several reasons why I consider kung fu the better art.

First, most forms of taekwondo rely heavily on ranged techniques, and space is needed to jump, spin, and land kicks.

On the other hand, a lot of kung fu styles have simpler yet more accurate and easier-to-land moves.

Secondly, there is a greater margin for error with kung fu since it’s much easier to recover and return to your fighting stance as opposed to missing a high kick and being off-balance and vulnerable to a counter.

Also, most fights tend to involve some amount of grappling, and while taekwondo fighters might be able to handle themselves in this regard they would not be as well trained as those who have studied various forms of kung fu.

Some kung fu styles focus on speed while others focus on power or using their opponent’s power against them.

For instance, Shaolin Kung fu has powerful punches and kicks, Praying mantis uses speed and trickery, whereas Wing Chun manipulates and reacts to an opponent’s moves.

Taekwondo is more concerned with power, speed, and precision.

Most combinations end with either a jumping kick, sidekick, spinning kick, front kick, or roundhouse kick.

A taekwondo fighter’s footwork has to be great and they will employ punches from time to time if only to create separation to line up a kick, but the heavy focus on legwork makes them much more predictable.

Simply put, many forms of kung fu are more adaptable to different situations and would therefore be more effective in a fight compared to taekwondo.

That’s not to say that it would be a one-way fight since a taekwondo fighter may have the edge given the right conditions and could strike a devastating blow at any moment.

It does also depend on the type of kung fu and taekwondo facing off against each other.

For example, an ITF-trained taekwondo grandmaster would have a significant advantage over someone who practices tai chi.

However, seven times out of ten the advantage is likely to fall in favor of the one who masters kung fu.

This Youtube Clip below should give you more insight into the superiority of Kung fu over Taekwondo.

Brief History of Kung Fu and Taekwondo

Kung fu or wushu was developed in china but the term itself covers a broad range of fighting styles and other activities.

It is loosely translated as a discipline or skill cultivated by long and hard work and is a practice that can be traced back as far as the 5th-century b.c when the spring and autumn annals documented hand-to-hand combat using hard and soft techniques.

 “kung fu lives in everything we do. It lives in how we put on a jacket and how we take off a jacket. It lives in how we treat people. Everything is kung fu.

Jackie Chan

Hundreds of fighting styles fall under the umbrella of kung fu including Wing Chun, tai chi, and Shaolin kung fu which was brought to china by an Indian monk but has been developed by the Shaolin and monasteries since the 5th century A.D.

Students of wushu practice it as a means of exercise, self-defense, and self-discipline.

It is not to be used aggressively and is in fact contained within the Chinese character “Wu Shu”, which means the “technique to stop fighting” alluding to the fact that kung fu is used to stop others from attacking.

Taekwondo is also regarded as a defensive martial art and it was developed in Korea mainly after the Second World War as a form of military training.

Its intended purpose was to defend oneself and incapacitate the enemy whilst unarmed.

While Taekwondo is still a relatively young art, it is heavily inspired by fighting forms and techniques used in Korean kingdoms as far back as the 1st century B.C.

Mural sculptures from ancient sites show soldiers practicing techniques very similar to modern-day taekwondo.

Taekwondo loosely translates to “the way of the foot and fist” but some translate it as, “the art of kicking and punching,”

The two main styles of Taekwondo are;

  • The ITF style – This exists with a view towards real-world self-defense teaching of a complete fighting philosophy covering multiple ranges of attacks such as kicking, punching, and grappling.
  • The WT (formerly WTF) style – This is the more iconic form of taekwondo and the type which has since become an Olympic event. This style focuses more heavily on ranged kicks and flashy techniques aimed at scoring points in a competitive setting.

Weapon Training

While both martial arts are mainly concerned with practicing hand-to-hand unarmed combat, some kung fu schools teach the use of weapons.

Students can become proficient in the use of weapons such as broadswords, long swords, spears, staffs, whip chains, hooks, and various others.

See: Chinese Martial Arts Weapons

Weapons training is less common in taekwondo but does happen on rare occasions.

For example, schools in the U.S have been known to compete in ATA-certified tournaments with weapons such as staffs, nunchucks, and different swords.

For more on taekwondo weapons usage, see Does Taekwondo Use Weapons?

Is Taekwondo Like Kung Fu?

Although they might look similar, Taekwondo is not like Kung fu as they are both different in fighting style, philosophy, and origin.

Two of the well-loved martial arts that have enjoyed worldwide respect today are kung fu and taekwondo. So how do they differ?

If you are fond of films starring Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li, then you most likely already have an initial idea of what kung fu is.

In actuality, kung fu, as seen in Hollywood, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Kung fu, in cinemas, is the martial art of intimidation that uses the quick movement of the hands and arms.

But kung fu is more than that alone in its most ordinary sense.

This Chinese art includes not only fighting but also deep meditation.

As such, it is good for the soul, mind, and body and one can learn it more effectively under an efficient master.

Because of the extreme use of muscles in action, the kung fu martial artist is bestowed with amazing awareness upon mastery of the art.

The other popular martial art taekwondo originated in South Korea. It is Korea’s national sport.

As a martial art, taekwondo emphasizes the use of the legs to fight, although it also uses hands.

Characterized by too much kicking, this art treats one’s legs as the best weapon.

It is also meant to be an effective self-defense mechanism, an art of meditation, and engagement in sports rather than as an offensive, fighting style.

Also, Kung fu is designed around fluid, soft (yet powerful), continuous and circular movements (almost like dancing).

This is contrary to taekwondo which is more linear, choppy, and firm.

In terms of weaponry, kung fu makes use of 18 traditional weapons (i.e., staff, rope dart, rattan shield, and double daggers e.t.c).

Although taekwondo highlights the use of legs as the primary weapon, it has now gone under the influence of the Japanese by using their traditional weapons like the bo staff and tonfa.

Some of these weapons are used by some taekwondo bodies such as the American Taekwondo Association (ATA).

Kung FU vs Taekwondo Which Is Better and Who Would Win?

Kung fu is better and more likely to win due to its simple, realistic, and less risky moves. Most taekwondo moves are too flashy, risky, and ineffective in a real-world application.

Kung fu and taekwondo both have their merits as martial arts and would prove useful in a fight, especially against an untrained opponent.

However, when pitted against each other, Kung fu is likely to win.

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