At first glance, there seems to be no difference between Chinese Kung Fu and Japanese Karate. Novice practitioners can easily get confused with the different styles. So what separates one from other? Read on to find out.


Karate Was Inspired by Kung Fu

According to history, people that lived in Okinawa, located in the south of Japan, were first exposed to Kung Fu due to their proximity to China. Over time, they were able to develop their own version of the martial art, which is now known as Karate.


Kung Fu Has More Techniques than Karate

Although Karate originated from Kung Fu, the latter includes a greater variety of techniques and moves compared to the former. The Japanese also modified the techniques, which resulted in a more linear and crisp execution with distinct stop and go motions.

Kung Fu is “Soft” While Karate is “Hard”

Most martial artists describe Kung Fu as “soft,” referring to movements that flow from one to the other. Conversely, Karate is described as “hard,” referring to the linear movements, and the stop and go motions of the techniques. However, there are some Karate styles, such as Goju, which incorporate a lot of circular techniques.


Kung Fu and Karate Uniforms Are Distinct  

Karate practitioners wear a white uniform with an overlapping kimono-like top called a “gi.“ A colored belt, which identifies one’s rank, is central to the uniform. Instructors or masters wear the black belt. When in the dojo, Karate practitioners do not wear shoes. Meanwhile, Kung Fu practitioners wear satin tops with Chinese “frog-style” buttons. The color of the uniforms can be different, and shoes are commonly worn.


These differences do not convey superiority of one practice over the other and it all boils down to personal preference. But for those who are dedicated to learning the martial arts, getting a holistic education is preferred.         


Which of these two iconic martial arts do you prefer? Have you practiced one or the other?