Karate vs. Kung Fu
Who would win between a karate kid and a kung fu kid? With the release of the latest Karate Kid movie, which should have been named the “Kung Fu Kid”, every child is asking this question.
As a Kenpo karate instructor, I might be expected to be biased. But the first point I want to make is, it does not matter which you study. What is most important is that you find a great martial arts instructor who can motivate you to be your best.
There are only so many ways you can strike with your hands or feet (or elbows and knees for that matter). Many of the tools are the same, they just call them different things. Take the kicks for example. In Kenpo they call it a wheel kick, in kung fu a roundhouse kick. They are the same kick. The front snap kick is almost identical between karate and kung fu. This is not surprising since karate was derived from kung fu in China and from Te on the island of Okinawa centuries ago.
In general, the karate kid utilises a straight ahead linear power attack, with the idea of a one-strike knockout. The karate kid will usually stand in a deeper stance. The kung fu kid moves in a circular motion using parries to redirect attacks, in a more upright boxer-like stance. But keep in mind there are dozens of different styles within both karate and kung fu that vary widely in stances and techniques. With a skilled practitioner, kung fu and karate are equally effective. In over 20 years of competing and coaching open tournaments, I have seen many champions of both martial arts. There has been no clear victor in this battle.
Kenpo karate, the style we teach, is unique in that it is a mixture of the hard powerful linear movements of karate and the soft, graceful, flowing, circular movements of kung fu.
Which One for You ?
Don’t get caught up in the hype surrounding this movie. If you are sincere about becoming a karate kid or kung fu kid, pay a visit to the local martial arts studio, whatever type it may be, and make a judgement for yourself which style is the best for you.
In conclusion, there is no winner—they both are equally effective if the practitioner is a highly-skilled martial artist.