Karate vs Aikido: What Are the Differences (And which one should you choose?)

Different forms of martial arts are practiced all around the world. Martial arts are known to help with keeping yourself healthy, active, and strong.

In addition, practicing a martial art can help you relieve stress, allow you to improve your stamina, enhance your flexibility, and give you a complete workout, according to several studies.

Two of the more prominent types of martial art are karate and Aikido. So, karate vs Aikido: what are the differences, and which one should you choose?

  • Karate translates into an empty hand, referring to fighting with your bare hands. On the other hand, aikido refers to the pathway of unifying spirits.
  • Aikido is a soft form of martial art based on the original concept of focusing on deflecting and redirecting the attacker’s energy.
  • In contrast, karate is a complex martial art technique requiring one to execute challenging punches first to develop muscular strength.
  • Aikido and karate also share numerous features, including training, evolution, discipline, and movement.

While the two have vastly different interpretations, they do hold some similarities as well. Here, we’ll be talking in detail about karate and aikido, and which one you should choose as a sport. 

See also: Aikido And Jiu-Jitsu: What Are The Differences?

Brief Overview Of Karate

Karate is a Japanese martial art brought to Japan by Gichin Funakoshi in 1922. In addition, karate is a martial art or fighting method involving various techniques, including blocks, strikes, evasions, throws, and joint manipulations (MIT Karate Club)

The word karate combines two Japanese characters:

  • Kara” means empty
  • Te” means hand
  • Do” means way

Karate means a whole way of life that goes well beyond self-defense applications. In traditional karate-do, we always remember that the real opponent is oneself.

Generally, karate training is divided into three parts: 

  • Kihon (drilling of stances, strikes, blocks, punches, and kicks)
  • Kata (pre-arranged forms that simulate combat situations)
  • And Kumite (sparring)

“True karate is this: that in daily life one’s mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility, and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice

Gichin Funakoshi

Brief Overview Of Aikido

Aikido is a Japanese Martial Art designed during the 1920s by Morihei Ueshiba. Technically, Aikido combines jujitsu, particularly daitoryu-(aiki)jujitsu, and sword and spear fighting arts (MIT Aikido Club)

In other words, Aikido uses the joint locks and throws from jujitsu and integrates them with the body movements of sword and spear fighting.

Fundamentally, Aikido aims for: 

  • A peaceful conflict resolution when possible.
  • A dedication to self-development and self-improvement through the practice of Aikido

Aikido is not a way to fight with or defeat enemies; it is a way to reconcile the world and make all human beings one family.

Morihei Ueshiba
Karate vs Aikido: What Are the Differences (And which one should you choose?) – sportsario.com

Karate vs Aikido: What Are the Differences?

You might have been thinking that all martial arts are the same. But guess what? They have varying teachings and training. The same goes for aikido and karate.

Let’s have a look at how they’re different at the fundamental level, along with how the two groom you over the years. 

Karate and Aikido are different in various aspects so let’s go over the differences in both attacking style and defending style in Karate and Aikido. 

1- Karate And Aikido Differ In Their Fundamental Techniques 

One of the major differences that you’ll find between the two martial art techniques is that karate is considered a hard martial art type. What we mean by this is that you’ll come across as karate being more aggressive in terms of its applications as opposed to aikido.

Karate emphasizes attack, offense, and striking the other party. So, their play would cover highly aggressive techniques, such as kicks, knife-hands, elbow strikes, spears, and more. 

On the other hand, aikido is considered to be a soft variant of martial arts. Aikido’s theme revolves around deflecting the opponent’s energy and redirecting it. So, you’ll find more defensive strategies used here, such as blocks and joint locks. 

2- Karate And Aikido Differ In Their Attack

Karate tends to be more aggressive, while Aikido resorts to a more defensive play. If you’re wondering about the type of attacks carried out in these martial arts variations, then wait no longer. 

Karate is based on offensive attacks, so you’ll find that straight punches are commonly used for it. Along with this, front kicks and other variations of kicks are prominent in karate. Different types of attacks can be used to derive more complex attacks that’ll prove helpful in competitions as well. 

On the other hand, aikido doesn’t require any aggressive attacks in play. Therefore, you’ll barely find any striking techniques used for this type of martial arts. You’ll end up using a few relaxed arm striking techniques, but these will be pointed towards the torso. 

Overall, you won’t find many striking techniques for aikido as compared to karate. Players work more on their defense positions rather than their attacks based on the nature of the martial arts. 

3- Karate And Aikido Differ In Their Defense

When it comes to defense, Aikido is better as it teaches you how to defend yourself but it won’t help you redirect your opponent’s energy. This can only be taught in aikido. 

Blocks used as a defense in karate can be easily summed under the upper block, lower block, and inward and outward blocks. This helps block strikes from your opponent. 

When it comes to aikido, defense play is the underlying technique used. So, you’ll find a myriad of methods to redirect the opponent’s energy rather than just blocking the strikes. 

The great thing about aikido is that you don’t only get to learn how to defend yourself from bare fists, but also knives, swords, and more. It’s a process and each type of defense requires time to learn, but you end up with a much more detailed and helpful form of defense. 

4- Karate And Aikido Differ In Their The Pathway of Development

Whenever you play a sport or turn to any physical activity, it develops you in a certain manner. For instance, when talking about karate, you get to learn how to be more aggressive and competitive

On the other hand, when you’re talking about aikido, it allows you to develop your instincts. Its self-defense play allows you to learn how to keep yourself away from trouble and lead a life free of fights

The two develop you differently and are crucial for you in their ways. While one allows you to be quick on your feet and attack your opponent, the other helps you learn a more passive way to fight your opponent. 

The table below summarizes the differences between karate and Aikido.

FounderFunakoshi GichinMorihei Ueshiba
Root Martial ArtsAncient Chinese martial arts cultureDaitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu
Country Of Origin JapanJapan
Teaches Practicing karate helps tone the body, build coordination, quicken reflexes, and develop stamina.– Self-defense
– Resolve, deescalate or defuse an aggressive situation
Definition “Hard” Martial art “Soft” Martial art
FocusKarate focuses on attacking and striking an opponent to quickly incapacitate themAikido mainly focuses on deflecting and redirecting the attacker’s energy and seeks to minimize harming both the defendant and the attacker.
Basics MovementsKarate includes: 
– Kicking
– Punching
– Elbow strikes
– knee strikes,
– And open-hand techniques, including spear-hands, knife-hands, and palm-heel strikes.
– Standing holds and locks
– Soft blocking (deflecting)
– Takedowns using joints lock.
– Using nerves and pressure points
Table Summarizes The Differences Between Karate And Aikido – sportsario.com

5- Best Fighting Styles in the World

Here’s a list of five of the best fighting styles that people enjoy being a part of and watching. 

1- Karate

Karate is an aggressive style of martial arts that people practice all over the world. The word is driven by two Japanese words that mean empty hands, referring to your bare hands.

Karate focuses more on the attack aspect of combat rather than self-defense. 

2- Taekwondo

Taekwondo is another type of martial arts which has Korean origins. It emphasizes more on aggressive techniques, such as punches and kicks.

The word translates into punching and kicking. It is one of the most sophisticated martial arts disciplines that you can learn. 

3- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is essentially a type of martial arts that focuses on controlling your opponent. The major theme is to take the opponent to the ground and control them in the situation. 

Even though it is called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, its roots can be traced back to Japan.

4- Boxing

Boxing is a different type of combat sport that allows you to wear protective gloves and equipment while fighting.

It primarily is a game of throwing punches in a boxing ring and has become quite a popularly watched sport. 

5- Aikido 

Aikido is a modern form of Japanese martial art that focuses on enhancing your self-defense skills.

It takes time to perfect your aikido skills and around 4-5 years to earn a black belt, but the result is worth it. It strives to create a peaceful world and enhance people’s lives.

See also: Aikido And Hapkido: Which One Is Easier?

Karate vs Aikido
Karate vs Aikido: What Are the Differences (And which one should you choose?) – sportsario.com

Karate vs Aikido: Which One Should You Choose?

Karate is better for self-defense and real-life threatening situations because it has numerous aggressive striking techniques that can easily take down any opponent.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a passive form of martial art, go for Aikido because it aims to prevent damage to both the defendant and the aggressor.

Coming down to which one you should go for, it’s all about what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you wish to learn how to preserve yourself, work on your instincts, and help you develop overall? Or do you wish to improve your aggressive karate skills that hone other qualities of your personality while allowing you to compete as well? 

Aikido helps you uncover your inner self and keep you safe from trouble. In contrast, Karate provides a realistic, aggressive fighting style and an opportunity to compete in various competitive games.

The answer to this question depends all on what aspect you’re hoping to work on for yourself. Figure out which meets your personality more and choose the relevant type of martial art for yourself. 

Final Thoughts

Both karate and aikido are amazing fighting styles and sports that help you develop in different ways. It’s essential to know what you want to accomplish before narrowing down your options to one of these two.


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