The Distinctions Between Kung Fu and Karate


Kung Fu and Karate pic

Kung Fu and Karate

Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, Edward “Ed” Marsi holds responsibilities as senior financial consultant with TD Ameritrade. With a passion for muscle cars and sports, Edward Marsi also has a longstanding interest in martial arts.

One question that arises among many new to the latter discipline is the difference between Chinese traditions such as kung fu and Japanese traditions such as karate. Originating in Okinawa, or the Rukyuu islands, karate reflected the exposure that those living in Japan’s southern islands had to China and kung fu martial arts.

While karate and kung fu share a number of core techniques, the latter emphasizes complex, circular movements of the hands. By contrast, karate evolved into a streamlined version that features more linear strikes and sudden stop-and-go movements.

There are many variations between schools in both disciplines and some karate styles such as goju incorporate circular movements. In addition, there are kempo traditions that combine Okinawan karate and kung fu in a dynamic hybrid approach.

A final distinction is that those who practice karate typically attain ranks denoted by belt color. With kung fu, rankings are not traditionally part of the uniform, though some Western-influenced schools have incorporated colored sashes.


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