Judo Vs. Karate: Which One Should You Choose?

People often ask me Judo vs. karate which martial art is better? There are different martial arts styles out there, each with its own unique benefits. Two of the most popular styles are Judo and karate. So, Judo vs. karate; which one is better?

  • Judo is considered to be a soft martial art and involves body maneuvers against an opponent, whereas karate can be considered a hard martial art where punches and blows are directed at the opponent’s body.
  • Karateka aims for submission whereas a Judo is grappling art aiming to wrap or trap an opponent, leading to tiring down the opponent.
  • Karateka earns points through kicking and punching, whereas Judoka earns points via grappling and throwing the opponent similar to wrestling.
  • Judo is purely a defensive form of martial art, whereas Karate is an attacking and aggressive form of martial art

Choosing between Judo and karate depends on your goals and what you are looking for in martial art. Read on to find out more about Judo and karate, their differences and similarities, and the benefits of each art.

You might also consider checking out this article comparing Karate and Aikido.

Judo Vs. Karate: Which One Should You Choose?
Judo Vs. Karate: Which One Should You Choose? – sportsario.com

Overview and History of Karate

Karate is a very powerful form of martial arts that originated in the Ryukyu Islands. It was partially developed from the martial arts disciplines local to the Ryukyuans and Chinese kung fu.

Karate is considered a striking martial art form that uses, kicks, punches, elbow and knee strikes, and a range of other techniques. 

Karate training generally includes a system of kata (forms), pre-arranged sparring situations (Kumite), and possibly self-defense techniques.

Some consider karate as the most complete martial arts, check this video below and see why.

Judo Vs. Karate: Which One Should You Choose? – sportsario.com

In addition, students of karate in international styles typically train for sport grappling and striking stand-up competitions such as point sparring and forms (kata) rather than direct self-defense application.

Sparring (Kumite) in karate is similar to boxing, kickboxing, and other competitive contact sports.

Karate schools generally place emphasis on self-improvement, discipline, and respect for others.


Overview and History Of Judo

Judo is a combat sport and martial arts discipline that originated in Japan in the late 19th century. Judo was created as a mental and physical discipline, in 1882 by Jigoro Kano (Source: International Judo Federation (IJF))

Judo is one of the more recognized martial arts disciplines in the world. One of the most unique things about Judo is that it is an Olympic sport

Thrusts and strikes by bare hands and feet as well as weapons defenses are a part of Judo. The widespread acceptance of Judo as a competitive sport resulted in the development of several offshoot disciplines such as Sambo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Judo is generally practiced by people of all ages in over 200 countries and has become an Olympic sport.

Judo is a sport and martial art developed from jujitsu that emphasizes using quick movement and leverage to throw an opponent.


Are you wondering, between Aikido and Jiu-Jitsu, which one should you pick? Read this article to find now!

Judo Vs. Karate -  Which One Should You Choose
Judo Vs. Karate – Which One Should You Choose? – sportsario.com

Difference Between Judo And Karate

There are several significant differences between Judo and karate. For instance:

  • While both Judo and Karate practitioners use their hands to strike an opponent, Karate practitioners tend to use more closed fist techniques as opposed to open hand techniques common in Judo.
  • Judo relies heavily on throws and takedowns, whereas Karate practitioners focus more on kicks and punches.
  • Judo and karate practitioners wear a uniform called a Gi

In addition, here are the differences between Judo and karate:

1- Judo And Karate Differ In Their Techniques

One of the most significant differences between Judo and karate is the techniques that each relies on.

  • Judo practitioners use a lot of throws and takedowns in their repertoire.
  • While Karate practitioners focus more on punches and kicks.

This difference is because Judo was developed as a sport, while karate was developed as a self-defense system.

Karate’s techniques focus mainly on striking, strengthening, flexibility, and agility of the limbs. In Karate, hands and feet are the most critical and are used in various ways to throw strikes from multiple angles, stances, and situations.

In contrast, Judo is a gentler and softer form of martial arts. Judo’s techniques focus not on striking but on grappling and submission, which requires practitioners to use their entire body to submit and throw the opponent.

Judo training focuses primarily on using momentum and getting defenses on the opponent, trapping and forcing the opponent to the ground to establish a dominant position, and finally incapacitating the opponent.

2- Judo And Karate Differ In Their Uniforms

At first glance, both karate and Judo Gis look similar. Karate Gis are generally lighter and looser-fitting, whereas Judo Gis are typically tighter and heavier mainly because of reinforced stitching.  

Both Judo and karate practitioners wear a special uniform called a Gi. The Gi provides Judo practitioners with a number of advantages in competition.

For instance, the fabric of the Gi can be used to grab an opponent, which can provide an opportunity for a throw or takedown.

In addition, the Gi can be used to help control an opponent once they are taken down to the ground.

3- Judo And Karate Differ In The Way They Compete

Judo was originally developed as a sport, while Karate was developed as a self-defense system. As a result, Judo has always had a competition focus, while Karate did not gain widespread popularity as a sport until relatively recently.

This difference is reflected in the techniques used by each martial art. For instance, Judo relies heavily on throws and takedowns, while Karate focuses more on punches and kicks.

Karate competitions include both demonstrative and combative. With demonstrations, karate practitioners perform katas, executing a sequence of flawless form and technique.
Combative karate includes sparring or full-contact fights generally based on a scoring system where proper kicking and striking earn points.

On the contrary, competitive Judo is generally a full-contact experience. During competitions, Judoka earns points using forms that prioritize holds, positions, throws, and submissions.

4- Judo And Karate Have Different Focus

The main focus of Judo is to take your opponent down to the ground using a variety of throws and grappling techniques, while Karate focuses on striking techniques such as punches and kicks.

Judo Places More Emphasis On:

  • Throwing your opponent to the ground
  • Submitting your opponent using joint locks and chokeholds

Karate Places More Emphasis On:

  • Striking your opponent with punches and kicks
  • Learning to defend yourself against strikes

Both Judo and Karate are excellent martial arts for self-defense, but they each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

If you have a passion for learning a martial art discipline for self-defense, you should consider both Judo and Karate to see which one is a better fit for you.

Interesting in Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai? Check out this ultimate guide to find out which suits you best.

Is Judo Better For Self-Defense?

Karate is better for self-defense than Judo. Karate includes more striking and kicking, whereas Judo is a grappling art aimed at tiring down the opponent. In addition, Judo’s techniques do not work well in real-life situations because Judoka wears a gi and practices rolling on padded mats, which can be tricky in a real fight.

Karate, on the other hand, is a striking-based martial art that originated in Okinawa, Japan. Karate is also a very effective form of self-defense and is often used in competition as well.

Moreover, judo is a very powerful Japanese martial art that focuses on takedowns and throws. It is an extremely effective and powerful form of self-defense and has been used in many mixed martial arts competitions.

Is Judo Effective In a Street Fight?

Judo is very effective in street fights. With Judo, you will learn close-range hand-to-hand combat techniques, which are highly effective in any street fight.

In addition, Judo focuses on takedowns and throws, which makes it an extremely effective form of self-defense. If you are ever attacked, Judo can help you take your attacker down to the ground and disable them.

Karate, on the other hand, is a striking-based martial art. While karate can be used for self-defense, it is not as effective as Judo when it comes to taking an attacker down.

Judo Or Better For Competition: Which One Is Better?

Judo is quite honestly one of the most popular martial arts in competitive fighting. In Judo, competitors attempt to throw or takedown their opponents to win points. Judo matches are exciting to watch, and there are many different levels of competition, from local tournaments to the Olympic Games.

Karate is also a popular martial art in competition, but it is not as widely practiced as Judo. Karate matches are usually won by points, and they can be very exciting to watch as well.

Generally, karate practitioners derive energy from the ground underneath and the surroundings and use that energy in a highly focused manner to create more impactful striking.

In contrast, Judo is primarily a defensive form of martial arts, and Judo practitioners derive energy from the opponent, turning this energy to submit the opponent.

Is Karate Better For Fitness?

Karate is a great workout! It involves a lot of movement and uses all of the major muscle groups. It is also a great way to improve coordination and balance.

Karate full-body workout that uses practically every muscle group in the body. Practicing karate help improve endurance, build muscle, and improve flexibility and balance.

Karate is also a great workout, but it is not as intense as Judo.

See also: Aikido And Hapkido: Which One Should You Choose?

Is Judo Stronger Than Karate?

Karate punches are generally much stronger than Judo punches. Typically, people associate Judo with wrestling and karate with kung fu. If you are a beginner looking for a full-body workout, karate is better because it strengthens all the muscles in your body, whereas Judo primarily focuses on your limbs

Check out the video below for a comparison of the effectiveness of Judo and karate throwing techniques.

Judo Vs. Karate: Which One Should You Choose? – sportsario.com

Final Thoughts

Both Judo and Karate have a lot to offer. Judo is better for self-defense and competition, while karate is a great workout and can also be used for self-defense.

Ultimately, the best martial art for you is the one that you enjoy the most and are the most dedicated to. It is imperative to research and try out a few different styles before you decide which one is right for you.


Hello friends, I am Altiné. I am VERY excited you are here! I am the guy behind sportsario.com. I am passionate about reading, sports, and everything that allows me to enjoy the outdoors. I hope you find what you are looking for while visiting sportsario.com.

Recent Posts