Difference between Aikido and Karate

Key difference: Aikido and Karate are physical form of martial arts, and they differ in many contexts. Aikido is a soft form of martial art, which comprises of harmony, while Karate is a hard form of martial art, and is generally practiced from sport point of view.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art form, which is combination of harmonization, peace and self defense method. It was founded by Morihei Ueshiba (1886-1969). The art form provides the physical and psychological balance to an individual.

The word Aikido in Japanese is made up of three characters called kanji.

Ai – joining, unifying, combining, fit

Ki – spirit, energy, mood, morale

Dō – way, path.

The soft martial art form, Aikido is performed with the help of blending moves and actions, and the twist, turns are conducted in accordance to the opponents move and action. It is the most combative form of martial art. Along with the actions, it also includes self defense and personal development. It is practiced on principles of harmony, and non-resistance. It comprises of footwork, which are practiced in a linear and circular manner. These actions off-balances the attacker and apply the joint-locking or throwing techniques. It is more of a physical form of martial art, which includes the techniques of gaining energy and harmony. In Aikido, the violent aggression is neutralized swiftly and cleanly. The self-defense actions are effective and performed without causing any injury to the opponent. At the highest levels, it is an effective discipline for the development, integration, and utilization of one's powers, which comprises of both mental as well as physical states. Aikido can be understood by two fundamental principles:

  • A commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible
  • A commitment to self-mastery through Aikido training

Karate is a Japanese martial art form, generally practiced from a sports point of view. Its physical aspect relies on the development of defensive and counter attacking body moves and actions. Okinawan is said to be the father of modern karate, as he bought karate to Japan in 1922.

The word karate is a combination of two kanji (Chinese characters):

Kara- empty

Te- hand

Thus, karate means "empty hand."

The traditional karate themes works on the principles of training, fighting and self-defense. In Karate, the practitioner never attacks first. It is a striking art form that uses punches, kicks, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open hand techniques. In some forms or styles, grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints, and vital point strikes are also used. It is one of the most dynamic forms of martial arts. In Karate, the practitioners use a series of ‘kata’ or ‘postures’ which can be offensive and defensive, and they learn to focus their power in punches and kicks which are designed to be very high impact. Karate practice is divided into:

  • Kihon (drilling of stances, blocks, punches, strikes and kicks)
  • Kata (pre-arranged forms simulating combat situations)
  • Kumite (sparring) 

Comparison between Aikido and Karate:




They are

The Way of Harmonious Energy (one interpretation).

The Way of the Empty Hand (Empty Hand ,sometimes Karate Do) 

Type of techniques

It is a soft technique generally based on the original concept of martial arts.

It is a hard martial art technique that requires one to execute hard punches first to develop the muscular strength.

Attacks are

Here, the attacks are neutralized.

Here, the attacks are aggressive and are not neutralized.


Aikidoka (aikido practitioner)

Karateka ( a strong karate trainer)


It helps in acquiring harmony along with practise in self-defense.

It is a pure self defense martial art form.

Image Courtesy: superaction.com, yellowpages.sulekha.com

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