September 4, 2022

Karate vs Judo: Differences and Effectiveness

In the field of martial arts and combat training, one should familiarize themselves with the three D’s of mastery: Dedication, Devotion, and Determination. Once you are able to conjure these principles and conquer your novice jitters, you start to pave your way to the land of mastery.

Karate is a Japanese word that translates into ‘Empty Hand’. It means that Karate does not involve the use of any weapons. Only your body is used to inflict damage on your adversary. Judo is all about technique over strength. Karate uses a combination of lethal punches, kicks, and blocking techniques. On the other hand, Judo employs grappling to defeat the opponent ultimately.

Since training in any martial arts requires proper knowledge first, read on to know more about the two so that you can make up your mind on which to choose.

Tracing the History – Birth

Karate was first developed in the Japanese Island of Okinawa in the seventeen hundreds from where it later came to mainland Japan. Abled masters and instructors from Okinawa came to Tokyo. They taught the art form in universities, which led to the typical Japanese get exposed to the very idea of a combat art such as Karate. 

blackbelt karate fighter

Judo was developed in 1882 by Kano Jigoro Shihan. It was an educational method developed from the martial arts technique and is regarded as a modern martial art technique. It was in 1964 when Judo first became an Olympic Sport. 


As time progressed, more and more people got to know about Karate through movies and fables about the art form. Karate became a significant symbol for the Asian culture and the people. Karate is now taught in countries across the world, but the source but their roots remain the same.

The evolution of modern Judo was based on ethical standards, which always gave respect to its technique and method. Judo was developed as a form of physical exercise, mental well being, and for self-defense. 

Due credit lies with the people of Japan who not only regard this as a mechanism for self-defense but also an exercise which is a building block of moral and spiritual foundations of a person. 


Let us now go a little deep so that we can better understand both the combative art forms. In order to do so, we will compare and contrast between the two.


Judo is a soft kind of martial arts. This involves techniques and maneuvers which are used to put the opponent on the ground. Karate, on the other hand, involves hard-hitting blows that inflict pain on the opponent.


In Karate, the person hits the opponent, which makes him submit, but there is no use of grappling techniques. On the other hand, in Judo, the aim is to tire the opponent by actively using grappling techniques such as takedowns and pinning the opponent to the ground.

Point System

The point system in Karate is given according to the kicks and punches dealt by the person. In Judo, the points depend on grappling and throwing your opponent to the ground, which is very similar to wrestling.


Karate is a hard form and type of martial art involving an inherent use of striking and punching. In contrast, Judo is less aggressive and a soft form of martial arts.


Karate is an aggressive martial art form and is all about attacking and dealing blows to your opponent. Still, Judo is more defensive in nature and involves body maneuvers against the opponents.


Both Karate and Judo are forms of martial arts. This means that they both are from the same group on combat sport.

Karate and Judo are forms of self-defense and were developed in south-east Asia. 

The two combat forms comprise hand to hand combat, and both don’t allow for the use of any weapon. The person is the only weapon here. The combat is between two people, and there is a set of rules which need to be respected by all.

Both the combat forms teach respect for the opponent, and hitting the opponent at the back is not appreciated. The code of conduct is strict, and practitioners of both the disciplines are expected to uphold and preserve the sanctity of the sport and the art.

Which is More Effective In a Street Fight?

In a real-life scenario or a street fight, the most important thing is to maintain calm and be very calculative about the move one is making.

Karate is excellent when there are multiple opponents. It’s only limit is grappling. So when a person who does Karate gets pinned down on the ground, then it becomes really difficult for him/her to get back at their feet. 

Karate is very efficient when a person is facing more than one opponent. Its real use comes into play when there are more and two parties in a fight.

Judo, on the other hand, is a sort of defensive art form. This includes grappling the opponent and throwing them down on the ground, just like in wrestling. Judo is also more effective with single opponents. When you face only one person, then the art of Judo will help you tire the opponent resulting in fatigue, and then you can tap him/her out.

So, the effectiveness of both depends upon the scenario which a person is facing.

If he is facing a single opponent, then Judo will have an edge, but he has to face multiple adversaries, then Karate is the way to go.

Which is Better for Self-Defense?

Now the second pressing question in your mind must be that which of these two is better when it comes to self-defense? 

Both the combat arts are useful for self-defense. But Judo is slightly better. It depends upon whether the situation permits you to use these. 

Judo is taught practically in sync with a partner who also will be a student. In Judo, balance is given the utmost importance, and students are taught to disturb the balance of their opponent. Use of submissions and pin techniques are also taught to hold that person on the ground. 

Some people also say that grappling is king and Judo because of its grappling nature is very lethal in one to one combat. 

On the other hand, Karate is an ancient technique that follows specific patterns that might not bear much importance in the real world. In the real world, this might not work as the other person might not be following the rules of combat art.  

Karate is a very formal but brutal way of enemy engagement, but in the real world, Judo is more relevant because you can defend and push the enemy on the ground at the same time.

Which is Easier to learn?

Karate gets the coveted crown! 

Both the combat art forms take a lifetime to master. It is a process until you are receptive and want to learn. A student of Karate can learn the basic moves in six to eight months and can also get a black belt in three to five or maybe six years. But he/she has to be regular and train at least three to four days a week.

With a combination of a proper diet, good training, and regularity, an amateur can turn pro in approximately six years.

If a person eats healthy, does sprints and weight training apart from the usual training, then he can witness progress in Judo between one to one and a half years. The essential requirement to learn Judo is a First Dan Black Belt.

In many places, judo belts are only given to worthy students who beat their opponents in real combat. Judo takes more time than Karate, i.e., around six to seven years to master as it requires specific benchmarks to be fulfilled by the students before pursuing the combat form.

So Karate can be learnt in a shorter span of time as compared to Judo as Judo takes a much longer time to master and learn.

Which One Should you choose?

It is expected that the readers may be confused as to which art they would one like to try their hands on. If you have any doubts about which martial art to learn, let me tell you that you should look at yourself and ask yourself a simple question. What Interests you? 

I am sure you have seen videos on youtube about the two very distinct combat art forms, and that must have further added to your confusion, so let me simplify it for you.

Karate is something that you should pursue if you are attracted to challenging combat and you want to learn the art of throwing precise punches and kicks. Karate is all about power. Karate is something that also can be understood in a shorter period of time as compared to Judo.

Judo, on the other hand, consumes a tremendous amount of time as this form of combat requires more precision training and a more incredible toil than Karate. If you are more interested in learning grappling maneuvers than hard-hitting, then Judo is for you. 

In Judo, you will learn to tackle your opponent in a way that will render him incapacitated to inflict any kind of attack on you.

So the choice is yours. Give it a thought and just go for it.


Eugene Hardy

Eugene is a professional Muay Thai fighter, with several years of experience. Also, a black belt holder. He actively participates in tournaments and provides training to his students. Eugene started this blog to share his experiences with Martial Arts.

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