Shotokan Karate vs. Taekwondo … Which Should I Do?

By Joel Williams | Common Questions

Jan 24

A common question submitted to GMAU is: Should I do Shotokan or Taekwondo? On the surface, what sounds like a simple question is actually difficult to answer. The best answer is highly individualized, and ultimately, can only be determined by the potential student themselves. Our hope is that this article will shed some light on the similarities and differences and give the reader some insights into how to go about making this decision.

GMAU Shotokan & Taekwondo

Let’s start with some broad, general advice, then take a closer look at GMAU Shotokan Karate and GMAU Taekwondo… When choosing a martial art, one should always take into account their age and any health concerns or injuries that currently (or which have in the past) plagued them. Some martial arts are very aerobic and emphasize hard falling, jumping, leaping, flipping, and other “acrobatics” ─ that are simply NOT suitable for everyone. Different martial arts also focus on different parts of the body.  Karate and Western boxing, for instance, emphasize “feet on the ground” and upper body/hand skills, while Taekwondo requires considerable leg flexibility, speed and strength.

Another major consideration is access and availability of the type of training you seek. Those with busy lifestyles, who live in rural or relatively underpopulated areas, or who have work schedules that prevent them from attending daytime or evening classes can now, thanks to advances in technology and the internet, overcome these common barriers. Even so, learning online is not for everyone. Online training programs can be a great primary method or supplement your training. Informational videos can guide you through specific techniques, stances, drills, etc. Knowledge and skill can be gained in this way, however, this approach requires a high level of internal motivation and resolve to consistently improve.

Benefits Of Training With GMAU

  • Join a community of highly motivated students who train hard and support one another.
  • Become an early adopter who enjoys the benefits of cutting-edge martial arts instruction.
  • Gain unlimited access to hundreds of hours lessons, classes, and “extra” instructionals with highly production value.
  • Learn in the comfort and convenience of your home.
  • Advance in rank at your own pace and receive individualized feedback from highly qualified instructors.
  • Train for the fraction of the cost of a traditional studio.

Shotokan & Taekwondo Programs: A Closer Look

GMAU Shotokan Karate

Karate means “empty hand”, and Karate-do translates to “the way of Karate”. Shotokan Karate is a weaponless martial art that is founded on the basic techniques of punching, striking, kicking and blocking, yet there is a deeper aspect to serious Karate training which deals with character development. Shotokan Karate is a way for an individual to realize greater potential and expand the limits of that individual’s physical and mental capabilities. Karate in an excellent, time-proven method of personal development. Shotokan Karate is a traditional Japanese Martial Art founded by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Shotokan Karate remains firmly rooted in a strong martial arts tradition, emphasizing lifetime training for a healthy mind and body, rather than strictly as a sport. As the most widely practiced style, Shotokan is considered a traditional and influential form of karate-do. Characteristics of GMAU Shotokan Karate:

  • Focuses on strong stances and kihon (basic techniques, especially arm strikes and blocks).
  • Favors deep, rooted stances.
  • Kicks are also taught with targets primarily to the attacker’s midsection or legs.
  • Includes instruction in standardized traditional kata performed by Japan Karate Association (JKA) and Shotokan karate-ka around the world.
  • Emphasizes pre-arranged partner drills to develop application of kihon skills (e.g., kippon kumite, sanbon kumite).

“Our GMAU Shotokan Karate Program focuses on strong, deep and stable stances. It emphasizes body alignment and core strength; stressing traditional, pre-arranged partner kumite.” ─ Sensei Michael Hodge, Global Martial Arts University Director & Head Instructor

GMAU Taekwondo

Taekwondo (also known as Tae Kwon Do) is the art of self defense that originated in Korea. The name was selected for its appropriate description of the art: Tae  (foot), Kwon  (hand), Do  (art). The introduction of Taekwondo to the United States began during the 1950’s when a handful of master instructors traveled to America to spread the art. Throughout the next few decades Taekwondo grew in popularity, not only as a martial art, but as an international sport. In 1973, Korea hosted the first Taekwondo World Championships. In that same year, the  World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was established as the international governing body for  the sport aspects of Taekwondo. Taekwondo first gained acceptance as an Olympic sport when it appeared as a demonstration event in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Taekwondo became a full medal sport competition beginning in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics. Today, the WTF counts 120 separate countries as its members, representing 20 million practitioners. These numbers earn Taekwondo the distinction of being the most practiced martial art in the world. Characteristics of GMAU Taekwondo:

  • Focuses on flexibility, and building related muscles for kicks.
  • Works on developing high kicks and speed.
  • Stresses high, mobile stances; traditional stances are less important.
  • Places more emphasis on dynamic sparring stances in the counter-drills.
  • Includes instruction in standardized World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) poomsae performed by Taekwondoists all around the world.
  • Includes self-defense drills that apply TKD basic techniques to a wide-range of attacks.

“Our GMAU Taekwondo Program focuses on flexibility, mobility and athleticism. It emphasizes kicks, active movement, conditioning and speed; stressing freestyle, dynamic sparring.” ─ Sensei Michael Hodge, Global Martial Arts University Director & Head Instructor

Wondering What Training With GMAU Is Actually Like? Here… Take A Look For Yourself!

Sean Robinson’s Story – A Real GMAU Shotokan and Ultimate Bo Student
Michael Hetherington’s Story – A Real Taekwondo Student

Our Instructors

Global Martial Arts University Instructors have taught thousands of classes in their own “brick and mortar” academies and have years of experience working with distance training students using cutting edge technology to provide detailed and concise levels of communication, feedback, guidance and motivation.

GMAU Instructors
GMAU Instructors

GMAU Student Testimonials

” The content that is available, as per the standard of the GMAU, is excellent. The lessons are bitesize and easy to watch, and the videos are high quality. The syllabus is divided appropriately so it is easy to know what you need to learn depending on your skill level and the rank you are working towards… Thanks to this course I’m starting to feel fitter and found my kicking techniques improving.”
─ Najeeb Hassan, GMAU Taekwondo Student

I cannot say enough good things about Global Martial Arts University. I had always wanted to study Shotokan Karate, and through life’s twists and turns, never had the opportunity. Two years ago, after moving to Texas and discovering that there were no local dojos that I could attend that would fit my schedule, I started searching online. I came across Global Martial Arts University and couldn’t have been happier. Not only am I able to train and earn real rank through GMAU, but I can train anywhere, anytime, on my own schedule! Not to mention that the guidance and one on one instruction from Sensei John and Sensei Michael, is something that is rare to find at ANY dojo.” ─ Robert Hughes, GMAU Shotokan Student

“I really love the freedom of being able to train at home at a time and pace that suits me. I work long hours and it’s great to be able to train at a time when most dojos would be closed.”
─ Jacqueline Glisson, GMAU Krav Maga Student

“Nothing like learning a martial art from your living room. Sounds ridiculous I know, but it works. The quality of the course is incredible, Sensei Michael has poured his heart and soul into this series and it shows. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day it’s amazing how fast you progress. Overall I definitely recommend checking Ultimate Bo out.”
─ Gergely Péter, GMAU Ultimate Bo Student

Our Mission

We’ve been working with global distance training students since 2008. This has led us to creating cutting-edge home study courses that actually work. Our instructors, courses, and standards are held to the highest standards – so that you receive the highest quality training experience possible. The GMAU is on a constant quest to improve our courses, instruction, website, and experience for you. We only exist to help our students reach their goals. Let us do that for you!

What Are You Waiting For? Start Training Now!

Create an account with GMAU and begin training in Shotokan Karate NOW!

Create an account with GMAU and begin training in Taekwondo NOW!

About the Author

Husband. Father. University Professor. GMAU Certified Krav Maga Instructor.

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(2) comments

Pat January 24, 2020

HI! I have a question, I currently have a 3rd dan black belt, in WTF Tae Kwon Do,At the current time I don’t belong to any organization. I was suppose to test for my 4th dan way back in 2000, but the organization I was with wanted $5000.00 to test for it. My question is do you promote from my current rank or would I have to start from the beginning with you? Thank you!

    Michael Hodge January 24, 2020

    Hi Pat,
    We don’t currently test students up to 4th dan. Our current GMAU TKD course goes up to 1st degree, but we will be adding 2nd and 3rd degree later this year. We will most likely not add the 4th dan level of curriculum and testing requirements until 2021. Once it is in place, definitely, you can transfer your current rank of 3rd dan in (via our transfer rank procedure), and then test for your 4th dan from there. Like I said, we don’t have those higher black belt levels ready yet, but they are coming!

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