Karate vs. Kickboxing for Self-Defense: Which Is Better?


We all see awesome kicks in martial arts movies. But we also see cool Karate moves too. But what works better if you get attacked? Let’s explore Karate vs. Kickboxing for self-defense.

Here’s what I know from training with black belts in both:

Kickboxing works better than Karate in a pure self-defense situation. It’s a blend of Boxing, Karate, and Muay Thai and takes the most effective moves from all of those resulting in a deadlier and more effective system for defending yourself.

A Karateka (karate fighter) would naturally rely on kicks, which, truth be told, are not so easy to execute. You’ll need the right distance and immense skill.

It’s not simply the fact that they’re hard to do; it’s also that you could easily lose your balance while attempting some kicks. And in the dark or with multiple attackers, you aren’t that likely to connect many kicks.

The kickboxer can also use their fists to do damage and so reduce the over-reliance on kicks. Not that Karate fighters can’t punch, but a Kickboxer will have a wider variety of techniques available to them.

Let the fun begin…

Is kickboxing a good form of self-defense?

Kickboxing is outstanding for self-defense. It combines the deadliest and most effective techniques from Boxing, Muay Thai, and Karate. But it is also a great workout that gets practitioners in their best physical shape, and ready to defend themselves.

But, go for the real thing, not the variants that have been watered-down. Some kickboxing classes are basically just cardio fitness classes.

The real thing is good because, if you’re well-trained, you can use a variety of kicks when your opponent is some distance from you, and you could unleash several power punches when they’re close.

Of course, they’ll counter, and you could easily discern if they’re good at fighting and know the best way to quickly beat them up.

Unless they’re trained fighters themselves, kickboxing will help you crush the attacker.

That’s because, besides the fact that you’re excellent at throwing kicks and punches, you’ve also acquired the ability to absorb punches and kicks during training.

Some forms of kickboxing allow knee strikes and elbow strikes. Both can be super-effective when they’re executed properly and at the right time.

In the Derek Brunson vs. Israel Adesanya fight, it was a knee kick used by the latter that set him up to crush Brunson. This is despite Brunson being stronger, having a better physique, and more experience in the game.

You’re probably curious about some of the benefits of learning martial arts. I explored a few in a recent article of mine. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not to make practitioners more badass, nor does it make people more aggressive or violent (in fact, quite the opposite).

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is Karate useful in a street fight?

Karate, or any type of martial art, will be useful in a street fight. While many of the choreographed techniques of Karate don’t come into play in a street fight, the ability to predict movements, punch, kick, block, and throw an opponent can all help to prevail if attacked.

First off, let’s check out how it’s used in MMA.

MMA is like the laboratory for testing effective combat styles. Georges St-Pierre is regarded by many as perhaps the best MMA fighter that ever rolled in the Octagon.

He’s credited a considerable chunk of his success to Karate.

There are also other top-notch fighters such as Lyoto Machida who employ Karate to crush their opponents. He’s a black belt in Shotokan Karate. Jon “Bones” Jones is one of the most dreaded fighters in the UFC. He uses two lethal Karate techniques: elbow strikes and kicks to the knee.

Karate is essentially strikes and kicks, such as the fictionalized Crane Kick in the Karate Kid.

There is also a bit of grappling in traditional Karate. But this is hardly taught or stressed in most modern styles. Karate is good for self-defense because in most fights, the intent is to hurt the other, and this can be achieved if one’s good with strikes and kicks.

If a punch or kick connects with the target, it can have a really painful impact. Which is what you want in a street brawl. It’s not easy to grapple well in a real fight, especially if the other party is “skilled.”

They’ll be doing all they can to avoid being held and thrown.

It’s easy to grab someone who’s wearing a Gi, but the assailant might be wearing a simple T-shirt. (Some crazies would even remove and fling their clothes before a fight).

A trained Karateka (Karate practitioner) can disable or even incapacitate someone who’s trying to hold them. Being too close to a Karateka in a fight could be suicidal.

After all, some strikes and kicks could knock out an opponent. And there are 11 blocks available at their disposal to effectively block an opponent’s strikes and return that energy to their body.

So, can you learn Karate at home?

I answered the question in a recent article of mine. While it’s always better to learn any martial art in a dojo and with a partner, there’s still a lot to learn at home and by yourself. I even cover one of the most effective solo moves.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How dangerous is Kickboxing?

Practicing Kickboxing is typically more dangerous than other martial arts. It has an injury rate of 40 in 1000 minutes, in other words, 2.5 injuries per hour. The biggest dangers of practicing kickboxing include getting kicked in the head and along the IT band on the outside of the leg, both of which are painful.

As its name suggests, one is exposed to at least two forms of attacks: kicks and punches. Each on its own is dangerous.

Now imagine when they’re combined!

If a person is kicked in certain weak spots or punched on the head repeatedly, or is the recipient of a deadly uppercut, they’ll probably be injured.

We’ve all seen many boxing matches where a strong, agile, and skilled person miscalculates and is dealt a lethal blow. We’re often shocked as they fall to the ground. You can imagine how powerful and injurious the blow must be to have that kind of effect.

A similar thing happens in kickboxing, too.

Studies confirm that kickboxing is indeed dangerous. As I mentioned above, a study reported by Reuters revealed that “injuries may be more common in kickboxing than other sports.” It has an injury rate of 40 in 1000 minutes, in other words, 2.5 injuries per hour.

That’s a lot if you ask me.

It’s as dangerous as Karate but is much more dangerous than Judo, Taekwondo, Boxing, and MMA. Anything more dangerous than MMA is really dangerous.

You might be a tad worried if you’re a woman or a girl.

You probably want to know the best martial art for women and how you can learn it in a “safe” manner. This is what I explored in a recent article of mine.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can a kickboxer beat a Karate fighter?

A Kickboxer can beat a Karate fighter who has trained the same amount of time. A Kickboxer not only knows some basic Karate moves, but also deadlier kicks, elbow strikes, and powerful boxing punches.

So, they’re good at what a Karateka (a Karate fighter) is good at and they also have additional skills.

They can predict and counter a considerable chunk of what the Karateka would unleash, while they have moves, the other may not be able to predict or counter.

The Karateka would rely mainly on basic punches, blocks, and kicks.

Kicks are fun to watch, but they’re not so easy to execute. It may not connect with the target or they could lose their balance while executing it. Of course, that makes them highly vulnerable.

Imagine: A kickboxer could lure the karateka into a feeling of security which could be the latter’s undoing.

Kickboxers are trained to absorb kicks and punches, as part of their training.

The former could absorb a kick or two to draw the karateka inside (closer) and then unleash a flurry of lethal punches…that could knock the opponent out!

What is the most effective martial art for self-defense?

Krav Maga is the most effective form of self-defense, although it is not a true martial art. It is a complete self-defense system, incorporating the deadliest elements from several martial arts, and simply focuses on quickly and effectively eliminating opponents.

It trains you to be able to unleash maximum damage in minimum time.

It’s one of the martial arts Navy Seals learn while they’re being trained. So, it must be good. You’re trained to destroy the opponent as quickly as possible.

It was originally developed to help Jews combat anti-Semitism.

Naturally, it’s used by the Israeli Defense Force and many military forces the world over. It incorporates many styles such as Judo, Aikido, Boxing, and Karate. So, a Krav Maga practitioner is a fighter that has multiple lethal skills.

They’re taught to stay with a problem until it’s finished! Read: until the opponent is incapacitated or destroyed.

You might be wondering what is it (apart from the multiple skills) that makes KM deadly. It’s its “no-holds-barred” ethos. You can use any move to defend yourself.

This is also what makes it the most effective combat system for self-defense. Because when you’re being attacked, your attacker is not thinking of ethics or some rigid rules they learned in a gym. In some cases, they might even be trying to take your life!

Any move that serves to protect you is fair game in Krav Maga.

Think consecutive groin-kicks, eye-gouging, elbow strikes, and knee strikes. When properly unleashed, consecutive groin-kicks might be all you need if you’re being attacked by one person.

You’ll only need one good kick. Virtually all men would double over when kicked in the groin, and that’s the point to flee. Or if you want to teach the assailant a lesson, add a Knee Kick, as they’re bending over!

So, what do Krav Maga classes cost?

You’re in luck because this is the theme of a recent article of mine. I not only get into average costs on monthly tuition, but registration, sparring gear, and whether or not you’ll need to buy a uniform.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

We learned some cool facts about Karate vs. Kickboxing.

We found out that Kickboxing is good for self-defense if it’s useful in a street fight and that it’s dangerous.

We wondered about what’ll happen if a kickboxer fought a Karateka, and we wrapped up by considering the most effective martial art.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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