Karate vs. Tae Kwon Do

I need help.

I have zero experience in martial arts. Any kind of martial arts. I’m sure there’s ninja blood in me somewhere (cause what other perks of being Japanese are there?) but really, I’m like the least balanced, least swift, least flexible and least athletic person out there. Martial arts and I are not friends.

That being said, I do know how to differentiate between the different types of martial arts. It’s like being Asian–we can all categorize ourselves under one race, but you have to understand that we’re not all the same: China does not equal Japan, and you’re an idiot to think that people from Vietnam speak the same language as those from Korea. Right?

Hapkido and Aikido both originate from Japan, but they are not the same thing as Kung Fu. I know nothing about what goes on in between, but I can tell you that.

So why can’t people in America do the same thing with martial arts?

I first noticed this with the Foot Fist Way trailer, which Will Ferrell and the comedic world have been touting around as the funniest movie ever. I’m saving my judgement for when I see the movie (something whenever wherever), which follows a guy named Fred (Danny McBride), who is a world-class Tae Kwon Do instructor.

Here’s my question–is he or is he not wearing a Karate uniform throughout this movie?!

Karate isn’t the same as Tae Kwon Do, right? I mean, one comes from Japan (Okinawa, to be specific), and the other is the national sport of South Korea. Karate (apparently, according to Google) is a “striking art” and their uniform consists a kimono-like top with colored belts.

TKD, on the other hand, is uh…(let me check this)..something different, but includes a dobok uniform, modeled about the han bohk.


So why can’t other people tell the difference?

I thought that was the only incident, until I caught the ending of MTV’s show, MADE (best show ever!!!) where a fat lazy boy turned into a winning “Karate Kid.” Yay for fat white boys learning to exercise and fight! Except, if he’s a “karate kid,” then why is the emblem of the South Korean flag tied around his forehead? Why must he fight ninjas? He’s wearing a proper Karate uniform, but why is Chan Lee, his instructor, wearing a dobok? Can you really mix and match these two martial arts? Does he really learn how to fight karate, or is it really tae kwon do all along?

I’m so confused.

So please, tell me what’s going on, especially if you know more about this topic than me, because here’s my issue: THEY’RE DIFFERENT. WE’RE DIFFERENT AND YOU CAN’T JUST LUMP US ALL TOGETHER.

(I mean, I could totally ask my ex-boyfriend, who was a TKD fiend, but that would be kind of awkward, since we haven’t talked in forever and then that would launch this whole OTHER conversation about why we haven’t talked in forever…yeah. Please spare me that ordeal.)

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About Moye

I am a Japanese-American girl who was born, raised and is most probably stuck in traffic right this second in Los Angeles. I'm currently one of the co-editors of 8Asians and like to distract myself with good food, reading long books, playing video games, catching up on celebrity news, choosing my new new haircut and then writing all about it on Hello Moye and sometimes here on Twitter if I can get it in under 140 words or less. You can reach me at moye[at]8asians.com.
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