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What is the Difference Between Karate and Kickboxing?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Karate and kickboxing are two very distinct physical disciplines, although there are some parallels between the two. People who are interested in training in karate or kickboxing have a number of things to consider when deciding on which they want to do, and it is advisable to visit several gyms or dojos to see demonstrations and talk to instructors. It should also be noted that neither is superior to the other, despite what practitioners of both may sometimes say.

Karate is a martial art which has its origins in hundreds of years of martial arts tradition. It originated in Okinawa, and gained followers in greater Japan in the 19th century. By the 20th century, it was one of the most widely practiced martial arts in the world. In karate, people use a series of kata or postures which can be offensive and defensive, and they learn to focus their power in punches and kicks which are designed to be very high impact.

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Competition karate is seen in some regions of the world, and the practice is also used as a form of workout. In addition, karate is sometimes taught from a self defense perspective, with students learning specifically how to utilize karate techniques defensively. However, the origins of karate lie in spiritual practice, and some practitioners continue to be involved in karate for this reason. Mental discipline and physical discipline go hand in hand in karate, and practitioners are as interested in focusing and developing their minds as they are in their bodies.

By contrast, kickboxing is an umbrella term which refers to a broad assortment of sports. There is, in fact, some disagreement about what qualifies as kickboxing. As a general rule, sports which integrate kicks, including kicks borrowed from martial arts like karate, along with boxing, can be considered kickboxing. The rules vary, depending on the form being practiced, and most forms of kickboxing emerged in the 1950s, making the sport relatively new.

Several types of kickboxing can be seen in the competition ring. The sport is also very popular for aerobics classes used for weight loss and to develop general fitness. Like karate, kickboxing is also sometimes taught in self defense classes. It could be viewed as a hybrid sport, because it usually integrates movements and traditions from many different sports and martial arts. Unlike karate, various types of kickboxing do not have a spiritual or mental component.

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