September 5, 2022

Taekwondo vs Judo: Differences & Effectiveness

Taekwondo and Judo are among the most popular martial arts. We can never undermine the importance of either, but you need to consider every aspect of the art while choosing what to learn.

Judo is a combat-based sport utilizing close range grappling and throwing. It concentrates more on defensive manoeuvres, a Judo fighter’s main aim is to immobilize the opponent and pin him to the ground. In contrast, Taekwondo is more structured around utilizing kicking as its primary fighting form. Taekwondo fighters aim is to strike the abdomen, head and collarbone of the opponent from various angles using legs and kicks.

But what is the difference between the two?

Now that I have captured your attention let’s get into a detailed analysis of both Taekwondo and Judo, which will help you make your mind.

The History

Judo is an Olympic sport which originated in Japan and traveled after undergoing a lot, to modern times. Taekwondo is the national sport of South Korea, where it originated. Both the martial arts travelled from the ancient times to the recent years undergoing a lot of changes with the course of time.

Various poses of a black belt in Taekwondo


Taekwondo goes back to 50 BC and originated in Korea about 2300 years ago. The name Taekwondo is made of “Tae,” (to kick), “Kwon,” (to punch or destroy using the hands), and “Do” (a way). The martial art form was developed in a Koguryo kingdom with the purpose to treat the mind and body.

The roots of Taekwondo started to take form in three kingdoms, namely Koguryo (37 BC-668 AD), Pakje (18 BC-600 AD), and Silla (57 BC- 936 AD) which Korea was split into.

Judo was born in Japan in 1882 when Jujitsu, a form of wrestling and the mental discipline taught in martial arts was combined. When the era of Samurai rule ended in Japan in 1868, Jujitsu was heading towards extinction.

It was rescued by a young man named Jigoro Kano who is the founder of Judo. In May of 1882 Kano took the best things about Judo and started a new school at the age of 21.


In 1889, Kano traveled to Europe intending to introduce Judo outside of Japan. Kano’s dream came true when men’s Judo was recognized as an international sport in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic. Women’s Judo started in the Barcelona Olympics of 1992. Currently around 184 countries are a part of the International Judo Federation.

The Taekwondo that we practice today started when the masters came together and decided to merge their different styles; introducing a uniform way of teaching after the occupation of Korea by Japan ended. 


The meaning of ‘ju’ in Judo is ‘soft and gentle.’ Its philosophy is unmistakable with its motto- mutual benefit (Jita-Kyoei) and Maximum efficiency with minimum effort (Seiryoku-Zenyo). Its teaches spiritual development and unselfish regard for others. 

Taekwondo’s philosophy is how students should conduct themselves by thinking right, feeling right, viewing right, performing and behaving right, speaking straight, and the most important – by contributing directly.


The primary purpose of a Judo Practitioner is to engage and then takedown his opponent using grappling techniques. Grip and balance is essential when trying to pin the opponent. Whereas, Taekwondo uses a striking strategy with powerful kicks and timely attacks in what is mostly long-range fighting.


Taekwondo fighters practice multiple jumping kicks, sidekicks, spinning kicks, front kicks, and roundhouse. The techniques of Taekwondo relies significantly on speed and precision. It is imperative to deliver all punches and kicks with high speed with force. Some of the commonly known styles of Taekwondo are listed below:

  1. World Taekwondo Federation, WTF; Kukki style: This is the most common style in Taekwondo and is also known as the Olympic style. It emphasizes considerably more on various types of powerful kicks – jumping and spinning kicks and less on punches.
  2. International Taekwondo Federation, ITF: Founded in 1966, this style is more of a traditional kind. This style of Taekwondo emphasizes substantially more on punching and less emphasis on kicking.
  3. American Taekwondo Association, ATA; Songahm-style: This is the most popular style of Taekwondo in America as apparent by the name. American Taekwondo Association is a hybrid of the two styles mentioned above. Despite that, it does place more emphasis on using the legs. At some instances, it also includes the use of weapons such as bow staff (long stick) or nunchucks.

In the martial art form, Judo, force is not resisted directly but there is an indirect resistance. The resistance is based on balance, skill and strategy. Judo is taught practically and you learn to control your balance. Coupled with that you learn to disrupt someone else’s balance as well. 

Two black belt judo fighters throwing HANE GOSHI

The different styles all then help in controlling your opponent. Pin him to the ground and apply submission holds and pins whenever necessary. 

  1. Nage Waza (throwing technique): Involves lifting and thrusting the opponent to the ground. A player must master the pulling and rotational motion to be able to perform the throw. 
  2. Tachi Waza (standing technique): In this technique, this practitioner has to be in a standing position to perform the action. It is further divided into Te Waza (hand techniques) Ashi Waza (leg technique) and Koshi Waza (hip techniques).
  3. Sutemi waza (sacrifice technique): Involves landing on your side or the back in an attempt to throw off the opponent.
  4. Ma Sutemi waza (back sacrifice): The practitioner has to throw himself on his back.
  5. Shime Waza (choking technique): Pressing the sides of the neck of the opponent in order to restrict the flow of blood and oxygen. This helps in making him unconscious for the next few seconds.
  6. Kansetsu Waza (joint locking technique): Uses the elbows, legs, arms, knees and grasping motions to attack the joints and bend the opponent in the opposite direction.


Judo effectively uses grappling skills and techniques all the time to defeat the opponent. The grappling technique is called Katame Waza. On the contrary, Taekwondo never employs any such grappling methods.

Which is More Effective in a Street Fight?

Here’s the answer to one of the most common questions – Judo!

In Judo, you get to learn all of the exciting combinations of grappling, wrestling, throwing, choke-holds and arm-locks. All of these are highly effective in a street fight. Judo employs and teaches close-range hand-to-hand combat which is very useful. 

Taekwondo, on the other hand, is a sport. Some Taekwondo skills can indeed be applied to a street fight. If you are caught in the chaos of a street fight the many techniques of Taekwondo – blocking, dodging and footwork comes in very handy.

However, Taekwondo lacks in grappling, and the hand is mostly used as a backup. On the other hand, Judo is an all-rounder in terms of technique and hence has the edge over Taekwondo when it comes to evading or defending in a street fight.

Which is Better for Self-Defense?

If you are caught in the middle of an unpleasant situation, the knowledge of any form of martial arts comes in handy and becomes a lifesaver in some instances. But due to the fact that it is an all-round sport, it can again be placed at a slightly higher pedestal than Taekwondo.

Taekwondo emphasizes kicks as its prominent fighting technique. Kicks can be an advantageous self-defence technique if you train correctly. The multiple kicks, executed swiftly, can bedazzle your attacker.

Judo is a highly scalable and upright martial art for self-defense and eliminates the need for a weapon. A Judo practitioner is trained in the use of submission holds and choke defense. They have to undergo rigorous ground training which uses both hands and legs equally.

There you go, Judo is a notch better when it comes to self-defense.

Which is Easier to Learn?

Well, we will have to go with Taekwondo as the answer to this question.

If we compare in terms of the years it takes for an individual to reach the black belt for Taekwondo and Judo, the former takes three to five years while the latter takes about ten years. 

It takes several years to develop a decent finesse in Judo. It might sound like an understatement but it is very accurate. That being said, both require a rigorous training regime.

Which One should You Choose?

Judo teaches you how to be comfortable in manoeuvring against your opponent. You can win by leveraging your opponent’s weight and strength against them.

Taekwondo, on the other hand, takes less time and employs the use of legs to an enormous extent. Taekwondo is an aggressive sport as well and both the sports have their fair share of weaknesses and strengths and pros and cons. 

The question that arises over here is: which one should you learn?

It is imperative to understand all the aspects and then make a decision. That decision requires a bit of research and understanding on your part. Realizing the difference between the two and understanding your needs and capacity is also very important.

Exploring and understanding your needs make a lot of difference too. Ultimately, it is for you to decide which path you want to walk. Nonetheless the key is to train hard, push your limits when it comes to choosing any kind of martial art form.

And then the decision making won’t look like a colossal task!

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