October 21, 2020

Shotokan vs Kyokushin Karate: Which one is Better?

Could it be possible for there to be a difference between different forms of Karate? Well, as it happens, karate is not just karate. In this post, we are going to discuss the difference between Shotokan and Kyokushin forms of karate.

Have we got your action instincts active already? Keep reading.

For some of you reading this, it might be difficult to grasp that there are different types of karate sport. Well, if you are taken aback, read on to know all about Shotokan and Kyokushin forms of karate and how they differ from one another.

An Introduction to Kyokushin Karate

To state in the simplest terms, Kyokushin style of karate involves complete body contact. This is the most wild form of karate that you can come across. In this form, you can practically run all over your opponent, if that is what it takes to overpower him.

However, it is not like you can practically take over your opponent like a bull.

In relative terms, this is to explain how your body can make contact with the opponent. So basically, a player would use a combination of kicks, punches and knee movements to target different areas on his opponent’s body and try to score points for each hit.

The ultimate objective of any player is to overpower his opponent and knock him out.

Techniques used in Kyokushin karate

From straight punches to kicks, a player can engage his opponent with a variety of them. There is a close distance between the fighters. A player can make use of his elbows, knees and even low kicks to target his opponent.

Specifics of Kyokushin Karate

In particular, a player cannot make use of face punches while engaging with an opponent in Kyokushin karate. While you can make use of the maximum force that you can muster, a player can practically use kicks on all parts of the body of his opponent.

During a well organised competition, a player makes full contact with the opponent’s body. Using a combination of punches, kicks and other moves, a player aims to gain points for every successful hit that he makes.

Every player in Kyokushin karate earns reward with a rank in the form of different colour belts. A player starts with a white belt and moves from orange belt, blue belt, yellow belt, green belt and brown belt. Ultimately, a player receives a black belt when he reaches the first stage of the karate form.

In order to clear an exam for the same, a player needs to perform a series of exercises, including kata and sparring.

An Introduction to Shotokan Karate

If there is something that makes Shotokan style of karate typical, it is the unique point system that it follows. Players earn points during a fight, based on the weight of the punches that they use. This does not necessarily mean that you can hit your opponent unusually hard to gain points.

So, what exactly decides how you score?

In the case of Shotokan style of karate, you can hit your opponent with specific strikes but only at specific places. As long as you follow this rule, you will be earning points for yourself. However, if you end up hitting your opponent harder than you ought to, you will end up losing points. This is exactly where the harsh point of Shotokan karate comes in.

Still wondering how you can score a point by hitting the opponent in this case?

Well, consider this. Once you punch or kick your opponent, the referee or the judge of the match will stop the player after every strike.


They will practically look into the strike to find out if it was correct. Then they will decide whether the strike merits approval or not. Next, they will decide if the strike was made with enough punch or not. Only after a complete evaluation of these factors, will they decide if points ought to be awarded to the player or not.

Techniques Used in Shotokan Karate

In the case of the Shotokan style of karate, long kicks are not emphasised. A player should always be more focused on hitting the opponent at the right spot. This should be done along with enough punch, to get himself awarded with points.

Experts say that this style of karate has a lot better form of footwork. Usually, a player will be seen utilising more angle work to get the desired result. More use of sweeps and an intrinsic emphasis on kata are some of the features of the karate style.

To sum it up, Shotokan style of karate is all about forcing punches to the face of the opponent. But not with extreme force to avoid earning a penalty. Leg area is also not permitted in this fight. 

Let us get to understand the different between both forms of karate

How is Shotokan karate different than Kyokushin Karate


This is the most important point of difference between both the forms of karate. As stated earlier, Kyokushin karate involves scope for full body contact. Though not at once but through kicks and punches in a consecutive manner. While this might be medium in the case of sparring, during a complete competition, a player can hit the opponent almost anywhere, except the head.

On the other hand, Shotokan karate mostly focuses on limited contact with the opponent. Here, a referee will assess the strikes to judge their validity.


In case of Kyokushin karate, a player uses a lot of legwork.  He makes repeated hits at the legs of the opponent. While on the other hand, Shotokan karate mostly focuses on controlled strikes at the face, head, neck and the side of the body of the player. The lower body of the player is not targeted in this case.


As discussed earlier, in the case of Shotokan karate, a player aims for a clean and direct strike in a controlled manner. After this, the judge stops the fight to assess the impact of the strike. He will then award points to the player accordingly. The game comes to an end when the referee concludes that a successful technique has been played by the player.

On the other hand, in the case of Kyokushin karate, a player has to put away his opponent in an effective manner to gain a score. This is what gains him score from the referee.

Choice of Sparring or Kata?

Katas are mostly focused upon in the case of Shotokan karate, which calibrates with its scoring system. On the other hand, Kyokushin karate puts more focus on sparring, which helps a player prepare himself for the ring.

Which is the Ultimate Choice of Karate Style for a Player?

For a kid or younger player who is just starting out his journey in the field of karate, Shotokan karate is generally safer, since it does not involve heavy striking. However, for a real life situation, Kyokushin karate is the better choice. This is because it deals quite simply with placing as much damage at the opponent as possible. While this does not make Shotokan karate completely useless, it does manage to garner the interest of many avid learners.

More Comparisions

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.

View all posts by Eugene Hardy →

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