Difference between Kung Fu and Taekwondo

Key difference: Kung Fu is any martial art form which is originated from China, whereas Taekwondo is a Korean martial art form.

Kung fu relates to any martial art form belonging to China. The art form was originated at the Shaolin temple in China in the 4th century. It was practiced as a form of exercise by the Daoists in the 5th century B.C. Kung Fu (or gongfu) refers to any individual’s commitment and dedication towards the skill and art, which is obtained by hard work.

In Chinese, the word Kung Fu relates to:

Kung fu – (gong) "work" or "achievement

Fu- intensity

Kung-Fu consists of fluid and circular movements, which are related to the fighting styles of animals. Its study is a science in itself, which trains an individual’s body to move in a continuous circular motion and turn. It is the most ancient form of martial arts practiced in China. The body in Kung Fu is regulated according to the physics principles and is optimum in use. Kung Fu is an open martial art; meaning, its styles can be adapted only by those practitioners who are perfect in their actions. In Kung Fu the aim is to cause as much damage as possible without losing balance, so strikes are extremely quick and controlled. Its actions are habituated from the animal moves and styles and are initiated from one of five basic foot positions, which are normal upright posture. The other four stances are known as, dragon, frog, horse riding, and snake. From the early periods of development, it has now become a healthy and potential rich form of self-defense.

Teakwondo is a Korean form of martial art and a combat sport. In the earlier times, it was one among the many military art forms in Korea. It was originated during the three rival kingdoms rule in 37 BC - 668 AD. The art form is full of kicking and punching techniques.

The name “Taekwondo” is derived from the Korean words:

"Tae"- foot

"Kwon"- fist and

"Do - way of

Teakwondo is said to be "The art of Kicking and Punching" or "The art of unarmed combat". It is simply a way of foot and fist actions, which are used for self- defense. The traditional Taekwondo typically relies upon the martial art forms, which were established in the 1950s and 1960s in the South Korean military. It was also practiced in various civilian organizations, including schools and universities. Whereas, the modern Taekwondo has two main styles; its one style is practiced by International Taekwon-Do adherents and the other is derived from Kukkiwon, the source of the sparring system sihap gyeorugi. Taekwondo is known to develop strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina. In Teakwondo, the legs play a vital role in the actions and attacks. The martial artistes have long and strong legs, which act as a weapon at the time of attacks and kicks. Today it is the most well-known martial art forms, and is encouraged and practiced in several parts of the world. Nearly, 184 countries and 60 million practitioners practice and flourish the art form, hence making it one of the martial art forms among the Olympics.

Comparison between Kung Fu and Taekwondo:


Kung Fu


Short description

Kung fu comprises a number of fighting styles and exercise with a spiritual dimension stemming from concentration and self-discipline.

Taekwondo is a form of a Korean martial art and a combat sport.

Also known as

Wushu, Gong Fu and many

Taekwon-Do, Tae Kwon-Do, Tae Kwon Do





They have been practiced from the traditional old eras.

They are practiced in the modern eras.

They are

It is one the vastest form of martial arts used for self defense.

It is martial art form and a world-famous combat sport.


The movements are floating and circular in types with all concentration on that specific action and move.

The movement is associated with continuous kicks and punches.

Uniforms and Clothing

The clothes and uniforms varies by style and school, but often includes kung fu pants (a loose fitting, elastic band cloth garment), kung fu shoes and a belt.

Dobok or Tobo


Here, there are many styles feature circular, fluid movements and forms that mimic the attacks of animal; most of the styles include the punch, jabs, strikes and kicks.

Here, there are kicking Punching and blocking techniques with parries.

Instructor is known as

Si fu

Sa bum nim


Kung Fu fighters do not use gloves.

Taekwondo fighters use either open-fingered or close fingered gloves.


The bows are done by keeping the hands usually in front of the sternum. The position of the hands varies- one common variation is having the right fist enclosed in the left palm with the bottom of the hands facing outward.

The bows are done by hands together or arms together.


It is not a part of Olympics.

It is part of Olympics.

Associations and foundations

  • International Kung Fu Federation (IKF)
  • International Wushu Federation (IWUF)
  • World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)
  • International Taekwondo Federation (ITF)

Image Courtesy: jagoadvisor.com, washingtonpost.com

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