A commonly asked question when students and parents decide which Martial Arts school to join is, “What’s the difference between Taekwondo and Karate and all other martial arts types?” Simply answered, Taekwondo originated from Korea, Karate from Japan, and Kung Fu from China. Stylistically, Taekwondo is known for high flying and acrobatic style kicks while Karate generally puts more focus on upper body movements.

However, my favourite answer to this question is that ALL martial arts have in principle the same foundation: to improve one’s life through the practice of its art. Foundational principles include honour, respect, focus, humility, patience, and love. Now, while the foundation and roots are the same, the blossomings are a bit different and this is where you will see the technical differences in styles as I mentioned above.

Lately, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has been gaining popularity but it should be noted that blending styles to come up with an optimal fighting system is not new. Bruce Lee pioneered Jeet Kune Do which was a hybrid of martial arts techniques to result in the best fighting style. I’m of the opinion that MMA as seen on TV is a sport, a sport that is a derivative of the art. Just like many practitioners can practice and enjoy the benefits of Taekwondo training without competing in the sport of Taekwondo, one can also learn and train in MMA without having to compete in the sport of MMA. It is unfortunate that many MMA stars are portrayed as thugs with attitudes (and some without question are!) but one must remember that the business of sport MMA requires drama and acting. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many MMA fighters and most are extremely hard working, honest, and honorable individuals.

In sum, when choosing an art to train in, ask yourself what benefits you are after or would like for your child and seek out the best Academy that will deliver this to you. If you have an extremely shy child with low self esteem, you would be more interested in which school will help increase your child’s confidence and esteem; not which school teaches better kicks or submissions. After all, there are only so many different ways of kicking and punching. Ask to view a class or try a class and inquire how many instructors are in each class. Weigh your options, are you prepared to sign a 3 year contract or more comfortable with just a monthly membership? Above all else, choose a martial arts academy that has skillful, well trained, and passionate instructors whose main priority is to help you or your child achieve the benefits you are looking for!  If you have any questions or comments, I can be reached personally at northshoretkd@shaw.ca. Thank you.

-Master Tony Kook